Ecocentric Approach of Science from the Perspective of Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore: Exploring Sustainability and Ethics amidst British Colonialism

P.A., SABAREESH ; A.L., REETA SONY

Abstract

Just as the ‘Renaissance’ in Europe led to a stronger urge in the individuals to explore new avenues of arts and science there was also a spurt in gradual scientific inventions and technological interventions. Much importantly the invention of the steam engine revolutionised Europe’s industries and transportation in terms of speed and efficiency. The demand for finished goods propelled the European nations, particularly Britain, to explore trade options for the importing of raw materials from overseas, including India, which later took the shape of colonial political plundering amidst regional political instabilities in the Indian sub-continent. The British imperialism, mercantilism, forced cultivation of cash crops, exploitative trade practices, procurement of raw materials from the sub-continent and elsewhere, selling of foreign products at exorbitant prices and colonial superiority were all intended to support the fledgling industrial development of the British homeland. This unmindful nature of unsustainable development gave rise to a fresh era of ethical and moral questioning, particularly by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore as to ‘what science and development should stand for?’ Gandhi’s questioning of the British on these lines evolved into the nationalistic tone of ‘Hind Swaraj’ while Tagore’s views employ the context of ‘Universality’. The paper discusses the perspectives of Gandhi and Tagore as to whether the applications of science and technology should be ecocentric i.e. taking into concern the environmental, humanitarian and ethical aspects or should it be anthropocentric i.e. development and exploitative centric. The paper also details the humanitarianism emphasised by Gandhi and Tagore from the Indian philosophical perspective and sustainability in the possible role that science and technology can actually play in ‘real human advancement’.

Keyword(s)

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi; Rabindranath Tagore; Hind Swaraj; Ecocentricism; Universality; Sustainability; Science and Technology; Anthropocentrism

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