They first came for the capitalists
Governments in India come and go, but their goals remain the same: to increase the scale and reach of the state and, at the same time, to disempower citizens as much as possible. Recently released government guidelines imposing Scientific Social Responsibility (SSR) on scientists underscore the triumphant march of Leviathan.
According to guidelines issued by the Ministry of Science and Technology, “every knowledge worker is expected to contribute at least ten person-days per year to HSS in addition to their routine/regular work, except those who are in the administration or who are directly involved in managing the implementation of SSR. Although the knowledge worker has the choice to choose the SSR activity, this should necessarily aim to make the S&T ecosystem dynamic and responsive to the needs of society.
A “knowledge worker”, according to the guidelines, is “[a]anyone who participates in the knowledge economy in the fields of human, social, natural, physical, biological, medical, mathematical and computer/data sciences and their associated technological fields.
The knowledge economy has been described as an “economy in which growth depends primarily on the quantity, quality and accessibility of useful information and the technologies that depend on it, rather than on traditional means of production (land, capital, labor and resources).
Among the exempted are “students, researchers and those directly involved in managing the implementation of HSR” were not tasked with HSR. However, “knowledge workers in private education and research institutions would be responsible for individual RSS activity, just like their counterparts in the public sector.”
In other words, SSR would be mandatory for this category. This is akin to mandatory corporate social responsibility (CSR). As I wrote earlier, “Mandatory CSR is egregious not only because it introduces unnecessary state intervention where none is needed, but also, and more so, because it attempts to control everything that is personal and private for any individual: instincts, feelings, munificence, authentic and spontaneous altruism. It enters the sacred space of the citizen, of conscience, and defiles its holiness. It is the colonization of conscience .
When mandatory CSR was introduced, it seemed that India’s dark pink state – made up of politicians and decision makers with a state mindset – was trying to forge conscience into the hearts of soulless capitalists. It is a well-known fact that the institutionalized mindset is stubbornly anti-business, resulting in the web of conformities, rules and regulations that the system keeps generating to keep businessmen wrapped up in bureaucracy.
Now it seems the disease runs much deeper: Leviathan wants to subjugate and control not just businessmen, but everyone he can.
The rationale offered by the Department of Science and Technology for SSR reads: “An important rationale for SSR is the moral obligation of the scientific community to ‘give back’ the benefits it derives from science to the parties stakeholders less endowed with science, technology and innovation as well as society The relationship between science and society is a two-way engagement SSR is not just about the impact of science on society, but also the social impact on science.
The very idea of “giving back” is the product and function of the collectivist and tribalist ideologies that dominate India. The society and the country are not considered as the collection of free and responsible individuals; instead, collectivities are seen as the actual entities of which human beings, as individuals, are of secondary, if any, importance. The state, not the individual, has primacy. It is the duty of the individual to advance the cause of the state.
Unfortunately, it is not only the state that assumes all powers; often non-state actors contribute. For decades, leftist intellectuals have set up every narrative, each one relying on Leviathan’s further reinforcement. For example, they dreamed of the nationalization of banks. It happened, in 1969. Huge economic powers were handed over to politicians, with the resulting calamities – defaulting tycoons, massive bad debts, politically motivated decisions, melas loans, the double balance sheet problem and the endless burden on the taxpayer to recapitalize. public sector banks.
Worse still, even the judiciary, which has generally played a prominent role in the defense of individual rights and civil liberties, sometimes tends to give more power to the state. For example, the Supreme Court’s decision to consider a public interest litigation (PIL) to legally enforce basic duties enshrined in the Constitution was unfortunate.
SSR should be seen in this context. The government believes that SSR would ‘bring about an attitudinal change in the scientific community’s mindset and working style, thereby improving the social reach of our scientific community’. The need of the hour is a change of attitude in the mindset of our political masters and the opinion leaders who influence them. Otherwise, the state will continue to fatten at the expense of the individual. This will have consequences for everyone in the long run, including those in power.
The opinions expressed above are those of the author.
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