Thursday, May 1, 2008


Education, Science and Technology is
for Combating Hunger and Violence

Dr T P Sasikumar
Scientist, Department of Space, Secunderabad - 500009, 09440422863 / 04027242863 / 09447437948

Is there a better way than education, science and technology to combat hunger and violence? ‘Necessary’ part need not be elaborated through write-up or explanation. ‘Not sufficient’ part has two clear meanings (‘not enough’ – need more and ‘can not support’ – need to be supported with something more). These two aspects will be discussed here.
National Objectives
The increase in scientific and technological knowledge and the ways in which the knowledge is transmitted as education are fundamental to the pursuit of national objectives. Developing new technologies, establishing industries and initiatives in education can only combat disease, hunger, violence etc.
We are living in years when people fear deadly attacks by terrorists, suffer from genocide or massive violations of human rights carried out by, on most occasions, their own governments. Despite the great advances in science and medicine, millions are dying from HIV/AIDS and other killer diseases. Despite all the efforts, too many people live in extreme poverty, hunger, disease, or do not have access to clean water, or to basic education and health. Worst victims everywhere are the women and children. Hunger and lack of opportunities deprive people of their dignity as human beings, leaving them hopeless and incapable of pursuing the kind of life they may desire. Marginalization and abuse based on gender, religion, social turbulence, repression, violence and terror are all closely linked to poverty and the concurrent lack of basic human rights. These are huge, persistent problems, which call, as never before, for unity within the international community; for unity across borders and religions, and for an integrated approach to solve them; that is, based on education, science and technology, commerce and development for peace, human rights, health, wealth and knowledge through democracy.
Development - a Paradox
“How many people have benefited from the education, development of science and technology?” Living in the developed / developing age of science we have moved human beings to a New World that is “full of promise” as well as “of peril”. The paradox of our times is that on the one hand, we have made abundant and remarkable scientific and technical achievements and improved the education but on the other hand, violence, conflict, uncertainty and hunger overwhelm the world.

As we are in our journey in the twenty-first century, we cannot but, consider the paradox existing in the level of development reached by the modern world. On one hand, through globalization, an irreversible trend toward a global city has been established, while on the other, divisions and gaps have increased. Progress in the fields of science, technology, commerce, trade and communication, has boosted global wealth to levels that seemed unreachable few decades ago. We can now see immense possibilities. We have the power to change the world for the better. However, great differences still exist between regions -- disparities and inequalities have over the years only augmented causing the world to enter into a new era of insecurity, health, wealth and knowledge. With a click of a mouse, billions of dollars move from one part of the globe to another. Science has provided many improvements for human life, yet in today’s world we still see people
o without minimum income
o with no access to drinking water
o without adequate sanitation facility
o breathing polluted air that is below acceptable standards and
o dieing of hunger

In the past few decades while science has been developing with unprecedented speed, more and more issues considered to be threats to human survival have become urgent topics to resolve. Advanced science had widened the already widened gap between the rich and the poor. In today’s world, the top 20% of the world’s wealthiest population consumes 85% of its income, and the remaining 80% population live on 15% of the world’s income. The bottom 20% lives on a mere 1.3% of the world’s total income. And these disparities are still growing. A generation ago, people in the top 20% were 30 times as rich as those in the bottom 20%. Now, they are more than 70 times as rich.
The three wealthiest people on the earth have more money than the combined gross domestic product (GDP) of the world’s 47 poorest countries. The richest 15 persons have more wealth than the combined GDP of all of sub-Saharan Africa with its 550 million people who control the trend of this widening gap? The more wealth a country has, the more advanced its science will become simply because it has sufficient capital to invest into developing new technology; new products and such investments will in turn bring more gross income for the nation. On the other hand, a poor country cannot even overcome its hunger, let alone invest in science and technology. Therefore, the rich become richer and the poor become poorer. The rich population will consume most of the world’s resources whereas the poor people have to face more hunger-caused deaths.
Non-violence – Peace Culture : Education
As Mahatma Gandhi has said: “Non-violence is not a garment to be put on and off at will. Its seat is in the heart, and it must be an inseparable part of our very being”. Scientists and Educationalists must have social responsibility and the task is of securing peace, health and wealth for the whole society and not only for a few industrialists and the richest upper stratum. Non-violence can flourish only when all are free of hunger, hunger, discrimination, exclusion, intolerance and hatred. Until then, each and every one of us would have to contribute – collectively and individually - to build peace through non-violence.
Despite so many troubling issues in our human society, most people wish for science to develop and advance faster. They see science as the God for all human beings. But, is science capable of solving all these problems? What we find is that all the challenges that we are currently facing are beyond the control of science. Even though the rice genome has been fully sequenced today, there are still more than 800 million people suffering from hunger. How many people will think of it and help these hungry people after they themselves have a good meal with plenty of wine? How many people will think about the scarcity of the earth’s resources after they have consumed them wildly? How many people will worry about the pollution and deterioration of the air and water and the erosion of soils? Even if science advances further, can it change the corruption of human moral standards? Even if science develops at a higher speed, can it prevent the rich from consuming less?
Even if science develops ever faster, it can not stop violent politicians from abusing human beings and killing innocent living beings. If human beings are controlled by their never-ending desire for profit, the advancement of science can do nothing to help maintain our ecosystem. Hearts returned to all of the high moral standards and traits such as kindness, diligence, gratitude, loyalty, politeness, and so on can only help. If all these good moral standards returned to human beings and to social communities, and if everyone completely follows them, human beings will instantly solve all those troubling issues such as environmental pollution, the growing gap between the rich and the poor, man-made destruction, violence, wars and terrorism. When human moral standards rise up again, the ecological environment that we depend upon will improve as well. Education, Science and technology in the hands of people with good heart could do wonders.
The most significant way of promoting a culture of peace is through peace education. Peace education needs to be accepted in all parts of the world, in all societies and countries as an essential element in building a culture. Peace studies in all educational institutions must be incorporated as part of their curricula. We must pursue our goal of a world without violence with even greater commitment, dedication and, above all, unending enthusiasm. Your work will empower the people of the world to secure for all of us, the inherent right to peace and non-violence.

Conclusion – Necessary but not Sufficient
Hunger and violence reduction is the ultimate measure of development effectiveness. Science and Technology programme is that we designed to examine thinking, policy and practice on vulnerability and poverty. It provides students, teachers and researchers with the knowledge and skills to engage professionally with the design, implementation and assessment of national and international efforts to reduce poverty and violence.
Students must have dissertation on aspects of poverty and violence reduction as part of their course. Education must provide compulsory professional skills for using the knowledge towards the development of the society.
Every student must gain knowledge of the main theories, concepts and debates of development in their historical and contemporary context with specialised knowledge on combating poverty and violence. Also the ability to use commonly applied research methods and skills, drawing on both qualitative and quantitative methods. Every student must have a course that is designed to equip them to appreciate, understand and assess poverty and violence. The student must be able to examine the impact of economic growth and social development on hunger, inequality and violence and vice versa. The course examines the social, political and economic drivers of vulnerability and considers how local, national, regional and global policy influences the processes.
Every Social Science student must gain practical understanding of how established techniques of education and research in science and technology are used to create and interpret knowledge for the benefit of the society.
Science and Technology students must gain the ability to engage in an informed and critical way with other professionals from diverse social science backgrounds concerned with hunger and violence reduction and development.
Education, Science and Technology together looking with a humanistic approach can only combat hunger and violence. Education must be - of life, - for life and - through life and must aim at
(1) yoga : total development of life, i.e., physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual;
(2) udyoga : correlation of education and manual work leading to self-reliance in the basic necessities of life; and
(3) sahayoga : harmonious living with nature and society.

Cross Flow Needed, Specific to India: Villages - Cities
India is a country where 80 per cent of the people live in villages. There is little education in the rural areas, as these have suffered neglect for centuries. If the village child is educated, he tries to find a job outside the rural areas and is uprooted from the family and the village: there is a brain drain from rural to urban areas. Education, Science and Technology should reach in villages to help them to stay in the villages.
It is said that nations are not built by parliaments or assemblies. Nations are built in families and in schools. As Lenin said, "If I know the songs on the lips of your children, I can tell you the future of your nation". People’s education and child education are interdependent and they must work simultaneously. The aim of education is not solely to induce literacy and numeracy. This is only a medium. The aim of education is to develop the whole personality of the child. The personality of the child is developed in the family and in the school, hence it is essential to develop the family too. People’s education and children’s education must go hand-in-hand, so education must be correlated with development work. Jawaharlal Nehru, had said, "A poor country like India needs a school which would be a centre of development also”.
It is inconceivable that there should be some 800 million people going hungry in a world that has the resources to provide the most basic of all human needs. What a world we are now living in! This contrasting fact is true in our ‘Incredible India’ too!!
Our development must be evaluated at villages. Poverty is in Villages. Violence is in Cities. Education, Science and Technology is in City. Our villages must have the infrastructure and facility like any city; and city must have the feelings and relation like any village. This cross flow of education, science and technology along with non-violence culture can combat hunger and violence.


shirisha said...

Superb blog.
I liked the last para a lot.
I feel that India is nothing but chaos. But, sir, when would ur suggestions be implimented?
As an Indian citizen, I see nothing great about India's future.

koppolu said...