04:40 GMT09 March 2021
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    Stephen Hawking celebrated his 59th birthday in 2001 in India. Automobile giant Mahindra & Mahindra had constructed a special vehicle for him to get around Delhi. He was so impressed with the mathematical abilities of Indians that he said math was India’s “national characteristic.”

    New Delhi (Sputnik) — Indians are mourning the death of British physicist Stephen Hawking who died at the age of 76 on Wednesday.  

    "Sad to hear of the passing of scientist Stephen Hawking. His brilliant mind made our world and our universe a less mysterious place. And his courage and resilience will remain an inspiration for generations," Ram Nath Kovind, Indian President said in in a condolence tweet.

    Stephen Hawkings visited India in 2001 to receive the first Sarojini Damodaran Fellowship by the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai. He was invited to attend the Strings 2001 conference on string theory. The conference brought together around 300 researchers from across the world to discuss the origin of the universe and other issues pertaining to it.

    Hawking, while meeting the then president of India KR Narayanan at the President's House, had famously remarked that India had changed since his first trip in 1959.  The Hindu newspaper had reported during his visit that Hawking was so impressed by the mathematical skills in Indians that he called it the "national characteristic" of the country and told the Indian president that "Indians are so good at mathematics and physics."

    READ MORE: Heritage of the Great: Hawking Questioned Fundamental Physics — Analyst

    "Stephen Hawking was not the only person to notice it…the deep-rooted abilities of Indian minds have been known to people who have interacted with India at any point in time. Stephen Hawking was a great mathematician and great theoretical physicist. He was an outstanding genius and his mental and physical courage in doing extraordinary things within his limitations is a rare thing and he can be called probably one in a billion kind of a personality," Professor Rajaraman, Professor Emeritus from Jawaharlal Nehru University told Sputnik. 

    He also delivered the Albert Einstein Memorial Lecture in the city on January 15, 2001. His lecture was titled "Predicting the Future: from Astrology to Black Holes."


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