Different Strokes|Feb 16, 2010 6:08 AM| by:

Piecing the Puzzle

In an article in the Deccan Chronicle (6th January, 2010), the author M.S. Swaminathan expressed his view that “only science can fight hunger”. The emphasis was on the untapped potential of biotechnology and how if put to its optimum use, it could well abolish hunger from the face of the nation. And he may be right. However, science alone cannot be the force or instrument which eliminates hunger and starvation. It cannot be so practical and almost cold towards an issue which is deep rooted and has far more implications, causes, effects than it seems to suggest.

So much of it has to do with attitude of man towards man and of man towards nature. No matter how much science comes to the rescue, unless and until our inherent attitude towards life and what it offers changes, we will remain in the same boat which will continue to sink, with only the pace varying by degrees.

And the attitude which one speaks of is of respect. A word that is so loaded with meaning and value and yet used in such a miserly fashion by us. When we disrespect Nature, take her for granted or worse, take her for a ride, inflicting injury and insult ceaselessly, the consequences of our actions, individually as well as collectively, are bound to be huge and hard hitting. Likewise, if our attitude of disrespect towards our fellow beings doesn’t change either, then once again, we are likely to find ourselves stuck in bog of our own making, for remember the wise words in the Dhammapada – What goes, comes back.

Finally, our personal nature is what can make the ultimate dent as well. A mentality of greed, of living for the moment, of selfishness, of isolating and excluding rather than integrating and including—all this stands as unbeatable armour in front of the forces of science. You can crack the code and discover the magic capsule that will keep the gnawing pains away but until we radically change our outlook, we will still find the hoarders and the misers, the users and abusers, who will make sure the capsule remains in their tight fisted hands. You can discover and implement all the goodness of science but unless you begin to give back to Nature what you have taken from her, you will find the experiments worthless and temporary. You can apply every skill and technique, every ounce of scientific knowledge, but until you change the very consciousness of the people, there is little more than the husk that you will have left in your hands.

Science is a tool, a force, an undeniably powerful instrument to combat all that is still lacking in the world. But it isn’t and can never be the only answer. There is as yet the last piece of the puzzle that eludes us and the best place to start looking for it is within.