Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Amazing inventions of India

A list of things that were invented in India.

One might be thinking that globalization is a phenomenon that originated recently but the truth is that almost everything in our lives and the world as we know it is a product of disseminated knowledge. Discoveries that were made centuries and even millenniums ago have been spreading through the globe long before the power of the internet existed. India, being one of the oldest civilizations has its fair share of discoveries and inventions in spheres like mathematics, science, mining, medicine, and agriculture. Here is a list of the ten most popular ones that are part of our daily life even if we don’t always know it.

1) Badminton – or at least the modern version of badminton originated in Pune in the end of the 19th century. A similar version was also popular in Tanjore in the 1850s. It was later on brought to Europe by the British.

2) Chess – originated in the 6th century with just four pieces: elephant, infantry, chariotry and cavalry. The game was spread to Persia where it was picked up by the conquering Moors that later on invaded Spain, thus introducing the check board game to Europe.

3) Dentistry – it has been established that the earliest evidence of dentists healing cavities and drilling teeth is from 8000 to 9000 years ago and is traced to the Indus Valley Civilization which is now on the territory of modern Pakistan. We might not love visiting the dentist but we sure know that we can’t be without it.

4) Hookah – according to some accounts, the first hookahs were invented about a thousand years ago on the territory of Rajasthan and Gujarat in India. They had a simple design where the bottom was made of a coconut shell and were mainly used to smoke hashish and opium.

5) Hospital – Indian emperor Ashoka (273- 232 BCE) established the first hospitals on the territory of modern Sri Lanka where people were mainly treated with herbs. He is also credited for pioneering veterinary clinics where animals where taken care of.

6) Pajamas – it is not exactly clear how the Indians invented the pajamas but when the British colonized them, they found out that the comfortable attire was popular among Sikh men and Muslim men and women. In the 1870s they were introduced in Britain as a sleeping attire for men.

7) Plastic Surgery – was first performed in India around 2000 BC and then popularized in the Arab world that actually launched it to Europe. The person behind this groundbreaking medical practice in India was Sushruta who operated in the holy city of Varanasi. He is credited for performing the first rhinoplasty (nose-job) with a unique understanding of the circulation system.

8) Sugar – under the rule of the Gupta dynasty (approximately around AD 350) found a way to crystallize sugar which was deemed an innovation mainly because up to this point most people had to chew the sugar cane in order to taste its sweetness. When the Persians invaded India, they were surprised to discover the sweet treat that was made by humans and not bees.

9) 0 – while it was the Babylonians who came up with the zero concept, the Indians were the first ones to use it as we do today, namely as a number and not just a symbol utilized for separation. By the 9th century, they were using it for calculation just as any other number.

10) Decimal Number System – is the most popular numeral system in use today. While many cultures contributed to inventing it, the Indians were the first to compile it and give it coherence. It is crucial not only for scientific calculation but also for everyday financial calculations. So next time you check the dollar exchange rate, you should know who to thank.

And here are a couple of honorary mentions: negative numbers, cashmere wool, circulatory system, cotton, shampoo, linguistics, ruler, bangle, oven, buttons, iron, dyeing, Pi (infinite series)


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