Scientific Seclusion And The Other Side Of Technological Development

Posted on April 25, 2011 in Specials

By Pooja Kalita:

Just as we stand high amidst the development of the 21st century, we notice that except for the air that we breathe there is also something extra that surrounds us continuously — science, technology and their products.

In one sense we might consider ourselves lucky to be a part of such a great era; the new revolution that sciences have brought into our lives is one of our greatest boon to mankind. From waking up with a cup of tea made in an electric appliance till retiring to bed at night, we are so much dependent on such gifts of science.

But then a sudden realization hits me. Are we too much depended on them? On the name of being self-reliant and modern, are we just being slave to it?

While this view of mine, I am sure, will be contradictory to so many opinions but, nonetheless, my views also cannot be disregarded.

To some extent I definitely feel that, perhaps, Gandhi was right in his assessment of modern civilization, the most prized possession of the west. Some of the central tendencies in modern civilization, such as massive industrialization and undue importance given to technology and science which altered the concept of labour, made Gandhi a critic of it.

Don’t we have the example of the Green Revolution of 1960s, which certainly was a major move towards more mechanized scientific farming to increase productivity of the country but it was not accessible to poor farmers. And those who opted for this new technology were burdened with debt, thus leading to farmer suicides too, which is still a major issue today. A more efficient delivery- targeted operational mechanism– is still needed, without which all these scientific developments would prove to be faulty and would be like super-imposing a super structure without having a sound base.

Coming to the more contemporary times; the tsunami of 2004, which washed away so many human lives from the face of the earth, prompted the process of making India a part of Tsunami Early Warning System. But this would not be effective if not coupled with the developments in the field of communications and disaster management. Sadly enough, even if the previous disaster could not be prevented, the future can still be optimistic.

All the development in atomic energy, nuclear energy and the tremendous growth in space research just prove to be baseless when in large parts of the country hunger kills children. What is the use of so much expenditure on scientific developments when the country is plagued with dowry, female foeticide and many such social ills.

Here , I am not against scientific progress but I mean to state that scientific development is of use only to the extent that it is accessible and beneficial to all, and supports progress of the society.

When IT (information technology) entered India it made a great impact – but even today, its benefits are not evenly distributed. Without an adequate support system, it was no boon to the lower-income groups.

While, we can go on talking about impact of science and technology on a macro scale, there is no question that they have also touched our day-to-day lives in even the most basic manner.

Tech might make life easy and help us do our basic jobs, but we must realize the importance of doing household chores. We instead spend huge amounts on the gym, and the chemicals in the packed food containers do not add to our health in any way. Our ever dependence on the cell phone and lead a luxurious fashionable lifestyle has just taken the simplicity out of us.

While, I completely do not disregard the contribution of science and technology but it is the modern-too-fast-path of it that has become a deep concern.

When it comes to tackling the issues such as education, proper infrastructure and accessibility, science and technology have been a great boon, but like all things, they have too many cons to their name as well. A great divide that it has created seems to be more and more difficult to overcome.