Impact of Indian Culture on Work-Ethos

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“Such an historical concept … cannot be defined according to the formula genus proximum, differentia specifica, but it must be gradually put together out of the individual parts which are taken from historical reality to make it up.” --Max Weber, ‘The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism’ (New York: Scribner's Press, 1958), p. 47.


In the homo sapiens’ race for wealth and power -- economic, industrial and military -- the importance of Research, Design & Development is well recognised. However, before Industrial Revolution[1] the development of Science & Technology was sparse and sporadic.

Renaissance[2] changed, inter alia, the West’s attitude towards work, wealth and scientific inquiry. Similarly in the East, such countries as adapted a reinterpreted Confucian philosophy (e.g. Japan and South Korea) developed faster than those who continued to stick to the traditional view of Confucius. Compared to non-Confucian countries, South Korea achieved within its first three plan-periods more[3] than what India failed to achieve even during the first half century of its five-year planning (including the intervening no-plan periods).

Why does India, with the fourth largest contingent of scientists and engineers in the world, falls in the category of countries that have the lowest per capita income? Can Indian Culture, if it also is reinterpreted, act as a saviour and free us from the bondage of the retrograde pronouncements made on our scriptures by the pandas and international researchers? Can our Cultural heritage – if rediscovered, reinterpreted and holistically integrated (with grey areas explained and parables reduced to logic in a way that is readily intelligible to the mildly dogmatic individuals, yet considered at least as an invigorating exercise by the intellectuals) goad us into achieving excellence in our socio-economic duty-- that is ‘work’ (economic work)? An effort to put together individual parts of our Scriptures, assimilate & synthesise their ancient knowledge, and to reinterpret the same with modern logic shall create a new Gestalt that will be equivalent to a Thesis by itself because it will, thereby, create new knowledge. In this Article it would be my humble effort to do so. Amen!

From the biographies of 20 eminent scientists (from Archimedes to Einstein) I have found that 18 of them had an abiding faith in God and also in hard work in their areas of interest. They also enjoyed an inner sense of peace, tranquility with the outside world and a sense of proportion (aesthetics)—how can one communicate with Nature (including the ethereal Space) and discover its Laws, if he/she is not in communion with the same? Therefore, introducing the pith and substance of the following paras into the Training Programme of young scientists and engineers may help in integrating them better into an RDD environment. This, being a key structural realignment for the RDD environment, takes the pride of place not only at the end of my PhD Thesis but also at its beginning.

2. It is not surprising that pre-Renaissance and post-Renaissance polaristic attitudes towards ‘work’ stemmed from one and the same source, viz. the Bible—albeit with emphasis being placed on different parts of this Scripture. Let us study these differences:

(a) God said to Adams in the Garden of Eden:
“Because you have listened to your wife and eaten from the tree which I forbade you, accursed shall be the ground on your account, with labour you shall win your food from it all the days of your life … You shall gain your bread by the sweat of your brow until you return to the ground-- for from it you were taken.” [emphasis added] --Genesis 3.17-19[4]

Hence, work came to be regarded as a curse, and the cleverest of men invented the feudal system to garner the cleanest of work: “Who first invented work and bound the free
And holiday rejoicing spirit down?” [Emphasis...
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