The rise of capitalism is unprecedented. Consumerism and commercialism rule our daily lives. Centralization of power is at its peak. In this scenario, it is a pertinent question to ask as to why should industry spend on education and research in basic disciplines like literature, languages, philosophy, basic sciences and social sciences.
The trend is such that whenever we talk about privatization of education or industry funding of academic courses, we talk about job oriented courses. Most of the time, job oriented courses mean courses in computer application, apparel designing, fitting, food processing or any other aspect of applied technology. The very nature of traditional academia comes under question. The logic of job oriented courses makes our university departments look useless. The structure of universities comes under attack.
To understand this apparent dichotomy, let us first have a glimpse of the extent of unquestioned power industry has. Today governments all over the world are on their knees. Corporate interest rules the world. World Economic Forum, International Monetary Fund and capital funding firms decide the fate of humanity. The direction of human progress, thrust areas of research, purchase of arms, zones of conflict and resolve, use of drugs and artificial intelligence (AI) are all decided by a handful capitalists, academicians and media barons. Bilderberg Group holds a highly guarded, secret conference each year. 120 to 150 most powerful people on earth gather and decide the fate of the rest of humanity. The best brains work on keeping the world under western domination. Countries like India must be conscious of the fact that it is the stated goal of Bilderberg Group to keep the world under western domination. The world government that they envisage is not our 'Vasudhaiv Kutumbkum' (The world is one family). This world government will protect the interest of the first world and the richest among them. Unknowingly under the garb of free market, we are reeling under sinister forces. The name of the participants in these meetings is kept secret. There is no media briefing. "The meeting is a forum for informal discussions about mega trends and major issues facing the world. The meetings are held under the Chatham House Rule, which states that participants are free to use the information received but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s) nor of any other participant may be revealed. Thanks to the private nature of the meeting, the participants are not bound by the conventions of their office or by pre-agreed positions. As such, they can take time to listen, reflect and gather insights. There is no detailed agenda, no resolutions are proposed, no votes are taken and no policy statements are issued.'' (www.bilderbergmeetings.org)
This is absolute centralization of power. This is power without accountability. They are not answerable to anyone and yet they decide for everyone. This is irresponsible power. How many in the industry condone this complete centralization of absolute power?
Development of AI, human colonies on Mars and Moon, gene-tinkering in the human chromosome are some of the decisions taken by the selected few. These selected few have selected themselves. The mass humanity has no role in deciding pollution levels, nuclear arms race, wars in Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan. The vast humanity only faces the consequences of the inhumanity, the greed of the selected few Taliban, Hizbul or Al Queda have no arms factory of their own. Who supplies arms to them? The answer is - arms industry.
Since there is production of arms, there must be its consumption. Therefore, the endless wars! We live in a world which continuously condemns terrorism and yet ensures steady supply of arms to terrorists. The arms lobby is strong. Amidst regular shootings, the United States government is helpless. It cannot pass gun control. The arm lobby is powerful. We live in a world where artificial needs are created. Greed becomes a virtue because greed leads to consumption and thereby to ''profit''. Ah, we have come to the core of the mantra-"profit''. Time has come for us to decide whether industry exists to serve humanity or humanity exists for the ''profit'' of the industry.
In this scenario, we are assessing the role of literature, philosophy, basic sciences and social sciences. Are they relevant? Should they be taught? Self-restraint, discretion, analysis, differentiation, selflessness, renunciation - are these things useless. I am at a loss of words and I do not know where to begin. And it is my golden, standard rule that whenever I feel something deeply but fail to express, I take help of the great ones.
Isaac Asimov, an American writer and Professor of Biochemistry at Boston University famously said, ''The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.'' The so called progress of human race is such that we first cause harm, then debate it and then try to rectify it, if at all. Climate change is a good example. The greed of the selected few has caused irreparable damage to mother earth. After all the damage, we have debates whether climate change is real. We are advertising salivating greed when the planet demands minimalist approach. The profiteering industry is crying for more and more consumption at a time when we immediately need to minimize our needs and consumption. The social media, TV and traditional media is shouting ''Eat more, wear more use more, ...'' whereas the cry should be 'less is more'.
Similarly, industrialized society has given serious mental health and communication issues. The first thing that we should focus on is the quality of human beings. All management mantras and communication skills tell us to be humble, reciprocative, helping, co-operative, coordinating, gentle, understanding, encouraging and so on. The writing is on wall. They are instructing us to be good human beings. The history of humans, various arts, philosophies basically evolve human beings. The purpose of basic disciplines is to enhance human vision, prepare good human beings, give insights into human existence and give a vision for future. Study of basic disciplines decides that we are neither machines nor un-conscientious creatures. We are humans. We not only have brains but also feelings, conscience and vision.
It is at the root of all sciences. Einstein famously regretted 'I've created a Monster' on creating the atom bomb. Similarly, Gene technology can help humanity but it can also create monsters. Biotechnology can solve food problem but it can harm the natural cycle beyond repair. And so it is with all science and all technology. Garry Kasparov tweeted on 13.02.2018, ''All our technology is agnostic and can be used for good or evil, so worry about humans being better humans. ...''
The basic disciplines like literature, languages, philosophy, sciences and social sciences give us an understanding into the fabric of human life. It is about wisdom. It is about foresight. We cannot improve communication skills without the treasure of literature behind us. When there will be Biology, only then there will be Biotechnology. When there will be Physics, only then there will be Nanotechnology. Study of Chemistry is a must if we want Biochemistry. We will lose it all if we do not educate people into mathematical abilities. This is basic. This is the reason why the top most advanced countries in the world spend lavishly on education and research in basic disciplines. The truth is that human life is meaningless if we do not study basic disciplines. The final culmination of human effort leads to arts and aesthetics and basic patterns of life.
Industry must assess its own place. Industry is an instrument for helping humans at large. The good of the human race is the larger goal. Industry cannot be bigger than humanity. And therefore, industry must boost and fund education and research in basic disciplines.
2. Pozuelo-Monfort, Jaime. The Monfort Plan : The New Architecture of Capitalism. 2010. London : Wiley.
3. Asimov, Isaac. The New Intelligent Man's Guide to Science. 1965. Boston. Basic Books.
4. Breckler, Steven. The Importance of Disciplines. Psychological Science Agenda. October 2005. American Psychological Association.