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COVID effect: Brakes on the culture of condom-solutions

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Rakesh Kumar Pandey
Rakesh Kumar Pandey
Professor in Physics at Kirori Mal College. Teaching in a DU college since 1989. Academic Council member in Delhi University from 1994 to 1998. Activist associated with NDTF activities in Delhi University. Former President of NDTF.

Condom for me, apart from its obvious use, also epitomizes a culture of finding remedies wherein instead of offering it as an apologetic solution, it was promoted as a symbol of an unrestricted freedom. The idea of abstinence was ridiculed as being conservative and the solution offered by condoms were described as a progressive idea for the human kind with little negative consequences. It was promoted through small and big time NGOs sometimes in the name of precautionary measures to avoid AIDS and other communicable sex-related diseases and more often to carry out an aggressive campaign to demean the very idea of abstinence and self restraint. And all this happened by keeping a blind eye on the environmental hazard that condoms could cause in the absence of their strict disposal mechanism.

I am citing this only as an example that represents the modern culture of mis/using technology and medicinal cures beyond limits. The case of antibiotics is yet another story that proves the same point. In case of antibiotics, apparently nobody had any hint of their long-term irreversible effects when these were promoted aggressively as a solution with a claim of having no side-effects. The basic difference between the approach of modern medicines and our traditional cures also comes from the difference in the strategic cultures. Not only the modern medicines overlook any necessity of making you feel sorry about your wrong lifestyles, it encourages you to ridicule any advice to have a relook at the necessity of making your last move. New technologies have enforced changes in our lifestyles and to handle problems arising out of that it looks for another technological solution instead of exploring any possibility to backtrack.

I have cautiously decided not to use the word ‘science’ in place of ‘technology/medicine’ as ‘science’ merely represents a mechanism of study to satisfy our inner quests whereas mis/use of the same is done by technology and medicine. And this mis/use of the technological products of ‘science’ is guided, governed and regulated completely by the market forces working in the area of business and politics. And business and politics, as we all know, never cares for those who do not help in increasing their profits or growth.

Modern ways and lifestyles look for technology and medicinal cures that can instantly address the visible problematic symptoms and pay less attention to the very reason for the occurrence of the disease itself. Tell me your problem and I will try to give you a new technology as its solution. This approach has opened up a vicious cycle of finding newer and newer ways to address fresh and fresher concerns that the process itself have kept on generating. In this blind race, technology keeps on influencing the lifestyle in the quest for improving it continuously but has invariably propped up unfamiliar problems and unheard concerns in the process.

Technological advancements are hopelessly a one-way traffic. While we all know that the human life existed without trains and planes, it becomes difficult to imagine that today. We have become so dependent on the internet connections that we almost feel like our fundamental rights are being snatched if we are denied that. The mobile phones and other related technologies have become almost synonyms to human life on earth. Comfort offered initially to human beings in some way gets absorbed in the new lifestyle making the same facility as absolutely essential commodity to sustain life at a later stage.

Due to this when a new problem springs up due to a new technology, instead of redefining the lifestyle to become lesser dependent on the technology and thinking of backtracking, the modern technology looks for another innovative way to deal and solve that problem that was arisen due to the very implementation of the last technological advancement. This modern approach often forces us to look for another condom like solution, invariably ignoring the need to check and regulate the uncontrolled mis/use of technology. Easy dependence on technology has led to a multifold increase in the number of caesarean deliveries of babies, stent fitting operations for heart patients, overuse of vehicles and electronic gadgets in our daily lives.

The modern technological advancements work as an untiringly continuous process of finding innovative solutions that are invariably also associated with creating fresh set of problems sometimes unknowingly and many a times ignoring or underestimating them. The present crisis of Coronavirus pandemic is also being understood as an attempt to misuse scientific studies to help achieve a narrow political aim. Restlessness of China to somehow claim the status of number one economy of the world was allegedly the root cause of the recent pandemic situation in the world. They misused a modern technological development to achieve their goal probably by spreading a virus for the world to fight out with and hand over the reign of economy to them.

On a different note, I often wonder how our ancient texts store a vast knowledge and spectrum of knowledge and wisdom as if they were documentaries of conclusions arrived at after a series of methodical scientific studies done to understand the function and purpose of life and the universe. Several faiths however, that coexisted in the ancient era probably attempted to utilize different aspects of these basic knowledge and wisdom in the benefit of their followers. Probably as it happens now, the mis/use of the knowledge by different faiths intentionally or unintentionally resulted in developing superstition and other evil traditions in the society. But just as it happens with scientific studies, even Indian spiritual evolution has kept on searching new ways to address our concerns and correct the evil traditions prevailing in that era.

Ancient Hindu way of life in this sense was perfectly scientific. In comparison however, it had an advantage over the way the modern science evolves. The ancient quests were primarily to study the inside of human being and therefore had a natural advantage over the new science. While the side effects of the present technological advancement corrupt the outside world almost irreversibly, any attempt to corrupt ourselves from within was enough to invoke the natural reflex mechanism to start working to correct ourselves. While the scientists of those days known as Rishis, Mahrshis, Brahmins and other saint-reformers used to throw newer understanding of life with noble intentions, the technology counterpart of that being the religion must have sometimes been driven by other intentions. However, the saving area was that it was working on the pattern of modern scientific studies and therefore always had a scope of correcting itself in contrast with the way the recent religions assert themselves as not open to any changes.

The current pandemic and the forced lockdown have shown us the benefits of restraints, self control, limitations, balancing and backtracking. Benefits of the forced lockdown came surprisingly as rejuvenation of earth and our environment. Air, water and rivers have got automatically cleaned, ozone layer has got repaired on its own and the world has suddenly become liveable and enjoyable even without luxury – something happened that was almost unimaginable in our lifetime. It has actually thrown up an unexplored option to the modern scientific and technological advancements. I feel that India is placed at a great advantage to lead the world and show them the real path to move towards achieving a happy and satisfied world instead of creating several pockets of competitive and dissatisfied societies.

After all, peace and prosperity existed in this part of the world for a very long time and we were a happy and prosperous with so much of wealth but limited luxury till the arrival of barbaric medieval period. It was followed by modern industrial revolution that is now known to be the main reason for skewed and pocketed development and creating huge financial disparity in the society.

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Rakesh Kumar Pandey
Rakesh Kumar Pandey
Professor in Physics at Kirori Mal College. Teaching in a DU college since 1989. Academic Council member in Delhi University from 1994 to 1998. Activist associated with NDTF activities in Delhi University. Former President of NDTF.
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