10 August 2007

Do we even care?

It’s interesting to note how the evolution of the human species, with an eye on the future, is a much-talked-about topic in the developed world. Even in India, I can walk into a bookstore and find several books on evolutionary biology by Western scientists, which is almost insignificant compared to the endless information I can get on the Internet… once again, all of it from, and on, Western scientists.

However, I can’t find any information on the future of the human population in the Third World, apart from volumes of population data, which seems to be growing by the day.

This makes me wonder if the evolution of the human species is of any concern in the Third World. Considering the facts that (a) the Third World contains 2 out of every 3 inhabitants of this planet Earth, and (b) much of this population is suffering from poverty, disease and illiteracy, my guess would be that the evolution of the human species is a top-of-mind topic for Third World governments and scientists.

And yet, when I search for information on this topic, I draw a complete blank. Not even an iota of thought from the Third World on what our future is going to be. When I asked a few friends, they (along with me) couldn’t name a single evolutionary biologist in India. When we talked of genetics, we could talk of genetically-modified food and crops. And, in a connected field, we thought of professor Jagadish Chandra Bose and his experiments with plants (he proved that plants responded to stimuli) some 80 years ago.

But, zero thoughts on the future of the human species! Living in India, amongst 1.2 billion people, I found this ignorance mind-boggling. Whatever we remembered were things we had read by Western scientists in books and in the media, or seen on TV on Discovery Channel or National Geographic or BBC World. Nothing Indian came to our minds.

Perhaps we, Indians, will not die out of starvation (though many farmers and peasants still are). Perhaps we’ll battle it out with all the diseases and eradicate them as the West has done (though AIDS is a looming threat in India at the moment). Perhaps, soon, all Indians will be literate, educated, economically well-placed and enjoying a comfortable lifestyle. Perhaps, that’s achievable in the next 20 or 200 years.

What about our evolution from the perspective of the next 2,000 or 5,000 years? Do we even care?


Madhuri said...

I think the question could be 'Should we even care?' - The third world finds it hard to cope with the problems of today and is not able to find enough solutions for the same. Do you think the Government will have spare to fund speculative research on the future of mankind?

runawaysun said...

Yes, you’re right, ‘Should we even care?’ is better worded. It’s a more appropriate question. But then, the answer (or, the answer I expect) would be ‘Yes, we should.’ I was lamenting the fact that we don’t invest enough in our future. Forget about research in future technologies which will cost us money. Look at the absence of thoughts and ideas: e.g. sci-fi books, films or even theories from India. From a population of 1.2 billion, we can’t find enough people from the scientific community to think about our future. And, we pride ourselves about our brains. We seem to have an abundance of astrologers and clairvoyants though. Perhaps it’s not money, but outlook. Perhaps it’s cultural.

Madhuri said...

Yes I guess culture is always part of such differences. I think third world lives more in reality that fantasy.