Essay on Science and Development

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Scientists are primarily moved by curiosity, by the passionate desire to know how things happen in life and Nature and secondly, by the desire to use this knowledge for human welfare. Nobody can deny that science has rendered invaluable service to mankind in various spheres. It is due to the discoveries of science that we have been able to find a cure for most diseases and prevent the outbreak of epidemics, thereby vastly increasing life expectancy. The most valuable service which science has rendered to mankind is that it has given it supreme self confidence. It has given man the assurance that, instead of being a slave to his environment, he can control and modify it to suit his needs. Before the scientific era, an agriculturalist eked out a precarious existence, his livelihood depending upon the vagaries of the weather. Insect pests, locusts, drought devastated his fields. Now we have built huge dams to supply waters through perennial canals, manufactured fertilizers which enormously increase agricultural production, produced ef¬fective pesticides, learnt how to prevent soil erosion, introduced multiple cropping and devised other ways to improve output. Population control would still be needed if food production is to keep pace with the growth in numbers, but the spectacular progress which scientific cultivation has made possible in the field of agriculture has belied all Malthusian fears. Progress in the industrial field has been even more spectacular, thanks to the application of science to industry. The world, particularly the developed part of it, now enjoys a standard of living which in former ages was not even enjoyed by the wealthier classes. The higher standards of living have made it possible for the governments to provide the social services on a liberal scale. The machine has not only relieved man of heavy burdensome tasks, but has also provided him with ample leisure in which he can engage himself in cultural pursuits, cultivate various kinds of hobbies and travel. It is through science that he has been able to invent new sources of entertainment and education, such as cinema, radio and television. The enormous popularity of these sources of entertainment proves how useful they are to mankind. Before the invention of the printing press, education was confined to a small section of the community and was of a predominantly religious character. The printing press revolutionised the art of publication and brought books, periodicals and newspapers within everyone's reach. Democracy would have been impossible without the printing press. The modern media of mass communication are another fruitful source of education. are being spent on manufacturing weapons of mass annihilation and space exploration, the affluent nations are not prepared to help developing nations on a scale which would make a significant impact on their lives. Many civilisations in the past perished because the people recklessly exploited natural resources, exhausted the soil and turned the land into a desert. Impelled by the profit-motive, nations are still recklessly exploiting world resources without giving any serious thought to what would happen a few hundred years hence. When we know that man has to live on this planet for millions of years, this policy of exploiting natural resources and not judiciously conserving them is, to put it mildly, extremely short-sighted. The same short-sightedness is being displayed over population growth. Science has rendered great service to humanity by finding a cure for most diseases, by preventing the outbreak of epidemics which formerly used to kill millions of persons, and by curtailing the death rate in other ways. But unless men learn to curtail the birth rate as well, we will, before long, be faced with a population explosion. Science has not proved that Malthus was wrong. It has only proved that for some time natural restraints on population in the form of wars, pestilences and famines can be held back....
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