Quote 7: Krishna’s Bhagavad-Gita provides a remedy against the ‘moral deficit’ of our times our Problem: the ‘Wallace Syndrome’

In our world what makes us worried most is its alarming ‘moral deficit’ almost every sphere. The industrial achievements and technological wonders cannot mask the rot, and hide what may become the founts for impending disasters. It is unwise for us to live in the romantic delirium of scientific achievements. The 19th century was greatly remarkable for industrial, imperial and technological changes, yet whilst assessing the worth of human achievements over that century one of its ablest scientific minds, Alfred Russel Wallace, expressed in his The Wonderful Century: Its Successes and Failures his deep concern at the “exponential growth of technology matched by the stagnant morality” which implied “only more potential for instability and less capacity for reasonable prognostication.” This is the well-known ‘Wallace Paradox’. He presented, in his Bad Times (1885), the picture of what had gone wrong in the economic management of the West in the 19th century. What was the most worrisome problem for mankind at the end of the 19th century, continued to vex humanity in the next century too. Wallace observed in 1898 in his The Wonderful Century: Its Successes and Failures to quote:

“…. It must therefore be held to constitute the beginning of a new era

in human progress. But this is only one side of the shield. Along with these marvelous Successes —perhaps in consequence of them—there have been equally striking Failures, some intellectual, but for the most part moral and social. No impartial appreciation of the century can omit a reference to them. and it is not improbable that, to the historian of the future, they will be considered to be its most striking characteristic.”

 Stephen Jay Gould, examining the trends of the 20th century, drew up an enlightening account of our achievements and failures focusing on our tragic traits and our incapacity to respond to the challenges with optimism. He too considered the problem of ‘the moral deficit’ of our days alarmingly shocking. Sigmund Freud examined the ways of the humans, both as individuals and as the wielders of political power, and was led to comment:

“Two things in this war have aroused our sense of disillusionment: the low morality shown externally by states which in their internal relations pose as the guardians of moral standards, and the brutality shown by individuals whom, as participants in the highest human civilization, one would not have thought capable of such behaviour.”

 When we scan the course of things in our own days, there are reasons to believe that we have learnt nothing from the past. In the context of the present- day economic management in our ‘globalized’ world, Joseph Stiglitz has perceptively highlighted its ‘moral deficit’. He says in his Free Fall (2010):

“…too little has been written about the underlying “moral deficit” that has been exposed – a deficit that may be larger and even harder to correct. The unrelenting pursuit of profits and the elevation of the pursuit self interest may not have created the prosperity that was hoped, but they did help create the moral deficit.”

Shiva Kant Jha’s ON THE LOOM OF TIME The Portrait of My Life and Times Chapt. 20 at pp. 266-267


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