Science nibbles at the future & happiness of civilisation

Monday, 25 July 2022 | Vir Singh | in Guest Column


Vir Singh Vir Singh

The contemporary human civilisation has attained a state of natural development where the human species has established control over all life and the entire living planet. All about 8.5 million living species of plants, animals and microorganisms that flourish and play in the lap of the earth have become dependent on the mercy of the human species. The entire biosphere, the entire planet and even the ‘invincible’ universe is now in the custody of mankind. Such a vast supremacy of any one creature! Was it the goal of natural evolution?

The biggest hand in such immense progress of man has been the science and technology he invented and developed. After the advent of the Industrial Age in 1750s, there has been an all-round progress in science and technology. By the way, the industrial age is the utility of science and technology in itself and till now they have been complementary to each other in further strengthening each other. Both have the same goal: maximum exploitation of nature and natural resources. The main goal of this exploitation is economic growth. In order to take the economic growth to the highest level, there was indiscriminate competition in almost all the countries of the world, then the destruction of nature went to the its extreme.

It is virtually impossible for contemporary civilisation to separate science and technology from its identity. The life of civilisation is stuck in science and technology itself, whereas today’s biggest need is to get rid of the techniques that push life towards destruction. We can be friendly with some aspects of science. Those aspects of science should be included in human civilisation which are helpful in giving wings to the imagination, which can make the imagination come true, which are life enriching, and those which are intertwined with a deep and positive life-philosophy. We accept that form of science and technology which helps us to solve the mysteries of the universe, can help evolve life on other planets, not that dark face of science which spoils the earth with pollution, breaks down the climate cycle and shrinks life.

Science is the creation of human intelligence. As long as science was an integral part of our religion-philosophy, its nature was only for the promotion of nature and human welfare. Then it was a matter of deep rejoicing in the society. Since science was placed on the back of economics, its purpose has been limited to economic growth based on the exploitation of nature, and it has played a role in a wide range of socio-economic inequalities, international tensions and fierce wars. The question of this period of our time is that how high is the level of happiness of our present civilisation? What is ultimately the greatest achievement of an individual, group, society, nation and civilisation? If science and technology were the benchmarks of best achievement, the world would be at its peak of prosperity. But, is there any wave of joy anywhere in a world dying under the shadow of hunger, thirst, malnutrition, epidemics, wars, terrorism and conflicts? Is there any ray of bright future visible? Science and technology have dried up the sources of happiness in the life of individuals, societies and civilisation even after providing all facilities. Inexhaustible bliss is born from the womb of the future. If a happy future is assured, then hopes remain green and the present is filled with happiness. But the future which we are imagining with a deceived mind, its nature looks very terrifying. In the womb of the future are the seeds of barrenness!

If a civilisation does not develop, follow and expand the right philosophy, it cannot keep its happiness intact. Such a civilisation resorts to achieving petty goals and does not exist with its potential intensity. If a civilisation follows a philosophy that contributes to ameliorate vibrant socio-cultural institutions, knowledge, spirituality, creativity, beauty, and freedom, it is certain that it will continue to blossom amidst life-enhancing joys. A civilisation full of vitality is the one that flourishes in an environment of happiness. No, cut off from the atmosphere of cheerfulness, a society or civilisation can flourish sustainably.  The knowledge which has been at the core of the fundamental vitality of Indian civilisation, is the center of Sanatan Dharma and life-enjoyment, which gives life a strong base and pleasant stability and endows it with creative power. If science had been in nature-destroyer form, then Indian civilisation would have suffered the same condition as all other extinct civilisations. But no one civilisation can blossom in isolation at this point of time. The entire human race has emerged as a common civilisation. No nation has remained self-reliant, all are dependent on each other in some way or the other. But still the world’s oldest Indian civilisation can give to the contemporary common civilisation of the world all those values of life and eternal philosophy which is capable of creating futures full of hope and creativity-conscious joy. This is how India can attain the status of Vishwaguru. Let me conclude with a beautiful poem by the ancient Sanskrit poet Kalidasa:

Listen to the exhortation of the dawn!

Look to this day!

For it is life, the very life of life.

In its brief course lie all the

Varieties and realities of your existence.

The bliss of growth,

The glory of action,

The splendour of beauty:

For yesterday is but a dream,

And tomorrow is only a vision;

But today well lived makes

Every yesterday a dream of happiness,

And every tomorrow a vision of hope.

Look well therefore to this day!

Such is the salutation of the dawn!

(The author is emeritus professor of Environmental Science at GB Pant University of Agriculture and Technology. Views expressed are personal)

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