Chemistry Boon or Bane

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The pursuit of knowledge carried on by scientists for the past several centuries has produced results over which opinion is sharply divided. Science, originally intended to conquer and harness the forces of nature for the good of man, is looked upon by some as the chief cause of the suffering of humanity today. On’the other hand, there are a good many people who consider science to be the harbinger of all progress, prosperity and comfort. The contro¬versy has been raging for a long time, though science goes on taking long strides .obviously regardless of the conflicting opinions pro¬nounced on its achievements. Leaders of thought, be they scientists or not, however, occasi¬onally pause and ponder whether science is going the right way and really promoting human welfare. A dispassionate and comprehen¬sive survey of the fruits of scientific advance in the various spheres of human life provides sufficient ground to be sceptical about the claim that science is an unqualified and unmixed blessing to huma¬nity. They have reason to conclude that all is not well with science and its application. Pure science is a relentless search for truth, for the discovery of the laws of nature. As such, no fault finding is possible with pure scientific research. The position, however, changes materially in regard to the application of scientific research in the field of practi¬cal activity. Science is like a sharp sword which can be used for either defending yourself against the enemy or cutting your own throat. What the pure scientist gives to his fellow-beings may thus be turned to their advantage, or exploited for subversive and des¬tructive purposes. The application of science, therefore, depends upon the just or unjust aims man has in view, and the history of the world shows that the application of science has not always been governed by principles of justice and consideration of the generanl good of the people. The 19th century witnessed the invention of steam loco motives, oil engines and other automobile machinery. Consequently, heavy industries of iron, cloth, etc., came to be set up. Production of these and other goods increased rapidly and their quality also improved^ greal deal. It was claimed that the burden of drudgery and physi¬cal labour was taken off the shoulders of man and shifted to the machine. Apparently, the claim was correct, but the labour-saving devices of new machinery dealt a death-blow to cottage industry, re¬sulting in large-scale unemployment. It also brought into being the tyranny of capital over labour. The rich industrial magnates ex¬ploited the situation and utilised the inventions of science for fea¬thering their own nests. A new form of slavery—the subjugation of the factory and mill-workers to the capitalist—raised its ugly head. The condition of workers in mills, coal pits and factories in Eng-land and other countries was pitiable beyond description. Even wo¬men and very young children did not escape the new method of exploitation. Thus, what Was hailed as a great blessing eventually turned out to be a curse, particularly for the exploited labourers and frequent conflicts’ in the shape of strikes, lockouts between capital and labour became the order of the day. Labour-saving machinery was applied to the service of man, but the overall result of this application was perhaps more evil than good. There was discontent, friction, immeasurable wealth on the one hand, and abject poverty on the other—palatial residences of capitalists stood in sharp contrast to slums in every big industrial town. Not only that, every industrially advanced nation began to look for its raw materials in other countries and markets for its finished products. Thus, economic and industrial advantages become an additional motive for aggressive wars. The application of science in the social sphere also produced highly questionable results. The introduction of machinery gave a new tempo and speed to human life and activity. Material...
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