science and the state
emergence and development of new technologies can make human habitats disease-free, happy, more intelligent, increase longevity and human capabilities in the years to come.
- president apj abdul kalam
source: the hindu, page 8, november 23, 2006
so much for the simple claims of science. so much for substantiated claims of science, eh? that was a "scientist" speaking, one who is the pride of the country, not to mention merely also the institutional head.
that was a neutral, not-all-politically-loaded statement - especially considering that it was made after the government decided to suspend all bt seeds and decide whether or not to permit them only after they were able to test it properly. that was something that didnt happen the first time around because while the seeds were still in the labs, monsanto quietly sold them to indian farmers in the black market.
what was the man thinking of!
for a scientist, the statement was totally ridiculous, not to mention thoroughly unprofessional. for one who happens to be the president of a country, its again absolutely unprofessional and unethical for him to peddle monsanto products (i mean... monsanto?) like this.
this is the technocracy in india. first that we chose a scientist to lead the nation, not based on his diplomatic skills or social awareness or political performance, but simply for the reason that he headed the nuclear program (incidentally the same one whose scope hes mutedly lamenting today.)
one aspect is that the best way to stifle and silence a person is to institutionalise him. by making kalam the president, the concept of the "hindutva" bomb was cemented. to question his work or ethics, is to question the state and therefore anti-nationalist. since kalam wears the presidents mantle, he cannot openly wail or criticise the program. and if the expert on the subject says its a Good Thing, that's about the official final word on subject. the conscience of science is effectively killed by politicising it.
there's another, more scary aspect. which is, that we as a society have completely bought the claims of technocracy and scientific supremacy. that we stand in such awe of technical expertise and the western model of development that we are ready to blindly follow the dictates of any person who can give us these, or any person who even just claims the ability to do so. kalams presidency is a measure of how technocratic a society we are, and the power we have given to science.
"the basis of advanced technology is innovation and nothing is more stifling to innovation than seeing one's product or ruled out of consideration on flimsy premises involving public world opinion." (emphasis mine)
- dr. harold agnew, los alamos laboratories weapons division.
when science is so closely linked to the state, you have eugenics - a politically touted scientific conclusion of being the superior race, dubious hiv trials in poor developing countries, the us refusing to "believe" in global warming, and so on. and each time, each act is justified by science for the politicians. the claims of science under the technocracy are illuminating. each scientific "breakthrough" promises everything from a happy, healthy life to immortality. naturally, since they are of such (unquestionable) service to humanity, they may use whatever means they wish to, to reach their ends.
power in our time has more intelligence in its service, and allows that intelligence more discretion as to its methods, than ever before in history.
- conor cruise o' brien
that reputed, trusted scientists like kalam can pack such agenda when they speak in innocuous gatherings like a convocation of a sports center, is worrisome and frightening.
brownskinspeak, feminist issues