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Getting the mathematics right on world peace

columns Updated: Apr 18, 2015 23:01 IST

The PM’s speech in Toronto contained the analogy that while India and Canada growing separately would be a2 + b2, when joined together in friendship they would be (a+b)2 which equals a2 +2ab+b2, with the synergy giving an extra 2ab.

This brilliant diplomatic formula has made world leaders go scurrying back to their math textbooks. Obama reportedly fumed, ‘If Modi does algebra, I can do calculus’ before telling an open-mouthed Joe Biden, ‘Here’s why we need racial integration. As you know, exdx= ex+C. Notice the extra C one gets whenever we do the integration. That C is a bonus.’

At a UN summit after Modi’s seminal speech, world leaders outdid each other in mathematical rhetoric. Here’s the report:

Obama: Welcome to this meeting on world peace. Let the world be x and peace be y.

Japanese PM: First, we must integrate the world. That would be x dx.

Obama: I’m afraid Modi went a bit parabolic in his Toronto speech.

French PM: No way. Modi

David Cameron: But he talked about a and b, not x and y.

Xi Jinping: It sounded hyperbolic to me.

Obama: Friends, we are going off on a tangent. Modi’s example was about bilateral relations, using the Binomial Theorem. In a multilateral world, we need polynomials.

Tahiti PM: We Polynesians love polynomials. Also polygamy.

Obama: If we take the US, Canada and Mexico, what do we get?

Mongolian PM: A triangle?

Obama: Nope. You get (a+b+c)2 which, as you know, is not a2 + b2+c2 but instead a2+b2+c2+2(ab+bc+ca). The extra 2(ab+bc+ca) is much more than the extra you get from Modi’s binomial formula.

Cameron: Oooooh! Wow!!

French PM: Modi said it first. Your formula is derivative.

German Chancellor: I prefer Geometry. Pythagoras expressed it best when he said a2+b2=c2 for a right-angled triangle. Let the world be a and peace be b. Then world peace would be the square of the hypotenuse. QED. Quod Erat Demonstrandum.

Indian PM: DDLJ. Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge. HAHK. Hum Aapke Hai Kaun.

Greek PM: Could we have a left-angled triangle please.

UN Secretary General: We’re talking acronyms? UNESCO, UNCTAD, UNICEF.

French PM: Modi is wonderful, he always thinks in numbers, particularly 36. Look at that lovely order for 36 Rafale fighters.

Cameron: Did you guys know amoebas multiply by dividing? Divide and conquer.

Nigerian PM: You have a point.

Putin: A point being a mere statement of position, of no magnitude.

Xi: The world needs exponential growth ex.

Obama: World peace is not as easy as falling off a log chart. It may not add up and we could end up looking terribly obtuse with some irrational numbers. So let us make a solemn resolve to go back to square one and do the math.

Shouts of hurrah, ole ole, oo la la are heard as world leaders hurry out to look at some improper fractions.

Manas Chakravarty is Consulting Editor, Mint
The views expressed by the author are personal