Published in Business Standard , February 7, 2014
Vice President Hamid Ansari Friday said that science and technology are indispensable for addressing major contemporary challenges of economic growth and social transformation.
“Science and technology are indispensable for addressing major contemporary challenges of economic growth and social transformation,” Ansari said in his valedictory address at the 101st session of the Indian Science Congress at the University of Jammu here.
The influence of science and technology on people’s lives in growing everyday, he noted.
“While recent benefits to humanity from science, technology and innovation are unparalleled in the history of the human species, there are instances where the impact has been harmful,” he said.
The development of sophisticated weapons of mass destruction based on scientific knowledge has a few times, threatened the very existence of mankind in the last century, he added.
“Weapons created by science have also imposed painful costs on nation-states during the several wars fought since the advent of the 20th century. The destructive powers of these weapons still pose a clear and present danger to humanity,” he said.
Quoting Mahatma Gandhi, Ansari added that scientists have a responsibility to mitigate, if not eliminate, the threats posed by excessive “weaponisation of the planet”.
“Gandhiji had listed ‘science without humanity’ as one of seven deadly sins. Scientists, therefore, have an onerous responsibility towards society and their fellow beings. They must distinguish between socially beneficial and socially harmful applications of their research and innovation,” he said.
Ansari suggested increased communication between the scientists and the public, civil society and policy-makers to find and implement solutions to issues of public need and interest.
“They could also take into account important questions such as reconciling the profit motive with the common good; providing for contributions from and benefits to deprived and marginalized segments of society; justifying current costs to prevent costs or damages to future generations…,” he added.
Adding that science needs to be fully integrated with the broader needs of the society, Ansari said: “Science also has to be cognizant of the social and ethical imperatives, which are integral to our being human and the basis of our civilization.”