Science and Society
“The main objective of all science is the freedom and happiness of man.”
‘Science’. A quite fascinating term in today’s world. From normal process of breathing on earth to abnormal process of breathing on the moon (of course via oxygen mask!), every single thing has a scientific concept behind it. The scope of Science has spread to the infinity and beyond. Yet, what we don’t know is every single one of us is a scientist. More appropriately any living organism with capability to gain some amount knowledge, however small that amount may be, is a ‘scientist’. How? To get the answer, we will have to take a look at one of the branch of science itself called ‘etymology’. The word ‘science’ has its origin in a Latin word ‘scientia’, which literally means ‘to know’. It means even knowing a tiny detail about anything makes you a scientist! Before the term ‘scientists’ was actually coined, the scientists were known as ‘Natural Philosophers’. However, meaning of ‘science’ has changed so much with time that once a ‘society of science’, now needs a different section for ‘science in society’.
Grandfather of Charles Darwin wrote a poem describing what he was observing in the nature around him. Decades after his grandson, observed differences in the species living in the nature, and as they say, the rest is history! From Darwin and many before him to Hawking and many after him, science has kept expanding its scope with time. Even if I say ‘Science has changed time’ this cannot considered to be an overreaction. Every field of science, be it medical, physics, chemistry or even social science, is trying its best to reach its peak. However, no one knows where that ‘peak’ is! Every branch of society has dedicated itself to the betterment of the society and eventually taking it to the individuals.
The Indian Society is not different either. We have been a scientific society from the Vedic times. The Vedic literatures and other ancient literature contains ‘knowledge’, which basically is nothing else but science. Be it ‘Arthshastra’ in political science to ‘Charakasamhita’ in medical science, it were all way ahead of their time. In a way, at that time, India was more scientifically developed than its western counterparts. We too have ‘evolved’ in science with time, but somehow we leg behind the western world now. The main problem is refusal of accepting new concepts. The less participation of science in Indian society has forced it to be decades behind of its western counterparts. The report on Human Development index, World Happiness Index etc. shows us the bitter truth. There are many challenges in the path of science to make its way in the Indian Society.
Science can bring improvement in the life of individual and that can gradually make a big difference in the society. As we have already discussed that Science is all about knowledge, but to make it inclusive we need to find out what knowledge we actually seek. For example, if we know there is rising cases of deteriorating mental health. Then now we know that we need to find out how we can resolve this issue. And finding that solution or gaining knowledge about how to face it is what science actually means. When we think about science, most of us will imagine a big laboratory, some robotic arms working automatically, Artificial Intelligence, revolutionary computer networks etc. Well I am not inclining to say that those ‘cool stuffs’ are not science. But what my point is science is not only limited to those ‘cool stuffs’. It has much more to offer than it. If science is about social betterment, then why we are more focused on inventing those ‘cool stuffs’ which has very limited to offer at the ground level.
We will take two examples, one in which how science can work for the betterment for the society and in other rather opposite. The first and imaginary one is when the scientific advancements had led to the automation in every economic sector. There is no economic inequality anymore. Somehow, we have reached the big feat of ‘no work at all’, making most of the people ‘happily unemployed’! Now take this happiness to the ‘physical’ ground. Wouldn’t the ‘no work achievement’ will lead to a medical emergency? Mental health will be hit worst. The current problem of ‘obesity’ might have overrun us. Of course, the argument against this scenario is that it is an ‘ideal’ one where only robotics science was developed and not the medical science. But we cannot deny that even the ‘imagination’ is horrific! So if the advancement of science is only limited to the ‘cool stuffs’ will lead society to the betterment or not? In the second example, the real one this time, think about the advancements in the medical science. It has changed society in real sense and on the ground level by increasing the life expectancy, decreasing mortality rates and improved health conditions. Of course, advancement in the fields mentioned in the first example are also needed. But when we take social responsibility into consideration, rapid advancements in the fields similar to medical science are more desired.
Only advancement of the science will not be able to solve the problems. Acceptability of the advanced science is also need of the hour. Indian Society has a reluctant attitude towards accepting the ‘new’ science. The social stigma is one of the major reason behind it. For example, accepting one’s bad mental health is still seen as a weakness in the society. Even when the advance mental treatments are available, the condition of the mental health at general is getting worse. Society as a whole will have to accept this blame. With advancements in the science, we need to raise awareness about its application in the general masses to make it effective. Unless we do that, soon we will witness a social gap as wide as the economical gap we see today.
There is no doubt about Science’s potential to change the society. And Indian Society is in dire need of that change. The end point is, science and society has come a long way by walking parallel. However, the future demands them to walk with hand in hand.
“The saddest aspect of life right now is that Science gathers knowledge faster than Society gathers wisdom.”