Saturday, January 17, 2015

Social Responsibility of Science and Religion for the Welfare of the Society by Dr. Joji Valli

( A paper presented at Jana Deepa Vidyapeeth Pune, for International Conference on Science, Technology and Values)

The interest in social responsibility or corporate social responsibility (CSR) in relation to ethics and management has gained significant momentum over the last several decades. In spite of much skepticism and critical comments, the emerging concept of Social Responsibility has achieved credibility and acceptability by offering solutions to the lack of morale and morality in organizations.
The shift in values implied by social responsibility particularly questions the suitability of the existing neo-liberal paradigm to address employees’ increasing needs for meaning and social contribution at the corporate level. Increasing need for promoting welfare and progress at the grass root levels society demands initiative and intervention  from individuals at every walk of life.
Similarly, the social responsibility of science and religion has crucial stakes as there is a paradigm shift in the business world for the progress of the society. Perhaps a spirituality-based paradigm offers a viable alternative to more traditional discourses on ethical business practice and scientific inventions and discoveries by promoting holistic responsibility for all social actors. Pope Francis’ recent comments favoring evolution, “When we read about creation in Genesis, we run the risk of imagining God was a magician, with a magic wand able to do everything. But that is not so,” the pontiff proclaimed while speaking at the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. “He created human beings and let them develop according to the internal laws that he gave to each one so they would reach their fulfillment.”(1)  Where does this leave the idea of socially responsibility? Or rather, is it an awakening to the socially responsible individuals? May the PSR (Personal Social Responsibility) be the aspiration of the humanity? This paper takes a close look at social sins which Gandhiji considers as the root cause of violence in the world that hinders societal welfare and causes imbalance in nature.

{Keywords: Social Responsibility, Corporate Social Responsibility, Science and Religion, Man’s Conscience, Human Centric Approach, Progress of the Society, Equilibrium of the Nature}

Social responsibility is an ethical framework which suggests that an entity, be it an organization or individual, has an obligation to act for the benefit of society at large. Social responsibility is a duty every individual has to perform so as to maintain a balance between the economy and the ecosystems.(2)  A trade-off may exist between economic development, in the material sense, and the welfare of the society and environment. Social responsibility means sustaining the equilibrium between the two. It pertains not only to business organizations but also to everyone whose action impacts the environment. This responsibility can be passive, by not engaging in socially harmful acts, or active, by performing activities that directly advance social goals.
Mahatma Gandhi delineates seven social sins which sometimes are called as the seven blunders of the world  that lead to violence in the world. All of them have to do with social and political conditions of human life. It is also interesting to note that the antidote for each of these ‘deadly sins’ is an explicit external standard or something that is based on natural principles and laws, and not on social values. Following are the seven social sins:
Wealth Without Work
Pleasure Without Conscience
Knowledge Without Character
Commerce (Business) Without Morality (Ethics)
Science Without Humanity
Religion Without Sacrifice
Politics Without Principle (3)
As an eighth principle Varun Gandhi has added to his grandfather’s list of social sins: ‘Rights without Responsibilities’ that causes anarchy in the society and imbalance in the nature.

1. Social Responsibility ― an overview
The very concept of Social Responsibility emerged due to the responsible thinking of some learned or realized human beings at the inception of humanity. They realized that there can never be an antidote for cessation of pain and suffering. So, human being who is undergoing suffering needs to be supported by those who are not affected by it. This pragmatic understanding and thinking gave way to different philosophical tenets both in the East and the West.(4)  Similarly, science and religion has been inducted to the societal framework to alleviate human suffering and enhance happiness. 
The term 'corporate social responsibility' was originally coined in the 1930s by two Harvard University professors A.A. Berle and C.G. Means.  Although most of the formal writings on CSR emerged in the twentieth century, the modern discussion of CSR is said to have started in the 1950s with the work of the Howard R. Bowen, the ‘Father of Corporate Social Responsibility.’  His emphasis was on the people’s conscience rather than the company itself.
The term CSR came into common usage in the early 1970s, after many multinational corporations were formed.  During the 1980s and 1990s corporations and academia came into the scene showing interest in business ethics. And today the ever growing interest has contributed much relevance for the corporations and society which now is vibrating into every sphere of human life as we are now focusing on the social responsibility of science and religion. 

2. Science without Humanity
Is science for science or is it for the humanity? If there are no humans for whom is science?
If science becomes all technique and technology, it quickly degenerates into man against humanity.  Science breeds technologies that exile humans into Himalayas ― don’t we smell some trouble there? If all humans are at Himalayas, then who needs the technology? And if there is very little understanding of the higher human purposes that the technology is striving to serve, we become victims of our own technology. We see otherwise highly educated people climbing the scientific ladder of success, even though it's often missing the rung called humanity and leaning against the wrong wall.
In a general view, science is regarded as the answer to human problems. But for Gandhiji, science without humanity is a sin. Scientists of our time and before have always tried to bring about some kind of technological or scientific explosion into the world. But if all they do is to superimpose technology on the same old problems, nothing basically changes. We may see an evolution, as an occasional ‘revolution’ in science, but without humanity we see little real human advancement. All the old inequities and injustices are still with us.[1] About the only thing that hasn't evolved are these natural laws and principles ― the true north on the compass. Science and technology have changed the face of almost everything else.[2] However, the fundamentals of life will remain unchanged forever.
Science is humanity's quest for understanding the order that manifests in nature and the laws that relate causes with effects. The scientific approach and methods have succeeded in revealing several obscure truths about nature and enabled man to have considerable power at his disposal.[3] Ever extending expansion and progress that we witness in transport, communication, agriculture, architecture, healthcare, so on and so forth are obviously the by-products of technological progress and scientific understanding. If all these goodies are given on a platter to improve life and living conditions for humans, how can we consider science as a sin?
Knowledge gives power and power is ability; but power without the wisdom to use it rightly contributes to disaster.[4] Indeed, power without wisdom is dangerous to the extreme that man can turn against humanity. We have ample examples of disasters, starting with bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki where millions of innocent people were killed. Perhaps, today in a more advanced way the drone attacks that are taking place in different parts of the world are pure examples of science without humanness. Can we call it as science without humanity? Is it right to put blame on the scrupulous, unenlightened greedy and selfish humans rather than putting all the blame on science and its advancements? Perhaps, it is important for us to spread awareness through education to develop minds that are scientific and humane. It is only education and awareness that can develop a clear conscience that can give wisdom to use power for the progress of the humanity.

3. Religion without Sacrifice
Is Religion for Religion or is it for the human beings? If there are no humans whom is Religion for? If Religion becomes all rituals and inhuman, like what is happening in the other side of the world, it quickly will degenerate into humanity against man.  As per the whims and fancies of the man, religions are created and multiplied. Without knowing who needs it and who understands it. What a misguiding state of the very purpose of religion! The moment is not distant when humanity voices against irresponsibility and purposelessness of the religious creeds that breed violence, poverty and unhappiness in the phase of the earth. Don’t you think Religion has social responsibility to ensure happiness of the mind, body and spirit? Isn’t it horrible to witness humanity against man? If religions take initiative to impart qualities such as empathy to each human being through their religious up-brings at family level and individual level ― there is no doubt that religion is on the right track. It is embedding the nano-chips of respecting and loving the human dignity and self-integrity. When Pope Francis declares to the world that God is not a magician, he is reminding every human to get involved to establish happiness and a heaven on earth.
Similarly, Pope Francis’ initiative of the Global Freedom Network[5] which has participation from most of the major religions of the world was held in Rome to take immediate measures to eradicate modern slavery and human trafficking. Yes! It is the right religious approach and straight way of addressing the problems taking social responsibility on a priority basis.
So, such initiatives of the Pope is the clear expression of the social responsibility of religion. The meeting of leaders of different religions and NGOs discussed deeply and found some common ground to work in unison for the social welfare and equilibrium of nature.
It is expected that other world faiths will take this approach as well, and hopefully join the GFN as it has stressed the share of social responsibility that every religion has for bringing about social welfare and progress. GFN clearly stated that,
“Stakeholders, at all levels, have a moral and legal duty to eradicate this crime against humanity and strive to ensure that all human beings co-exist in freedom, equality, harmony and peace in accordance with the values of our shared humanity. With collaborators from all over the world we must expose these hidden crimes by using today’s technology and working through good and just national and international institutions. It is our moral imperative to make ours the last generation that has to fight the trade in human lives.”[6]
Certainly, when Gandhi spoke about Religion without Sacrifice, we can be sure that it is the sacrifice of greed and selfishness of religions and work with focus of making human being as the centre. Gandhiji’s concept of sarvodaya, meaning service to all, and not to the maximum number. The philosophy behind Sevagram was Sarvodaya — the welfare for the whole.[7] Sevagram radiates to a fundamentally viable vision of village and human life.[8] Sarvodaya philosophy is not merely a theory of ethical justice, but it is also the sheet anchor that lays great emphasis on distributive social and economic justice.[9] For Gandhiji, perhaps it must have been pricking of his social responsibility conscience that is directing his actions for the progress and development of all.
Indeed, distributing what one has with the suffering and needy or supporting them is not an easy task. It is the only antidote which those people at the inception of the humanity realized to keep equilibrium in the nature and happiness on earth. This is possible only when religions adopt a human-centric approach with the realization that religions are just man-made tombs to preserve the human understanding of the Existence. Perhaps, with the misunderstanding that Aham devo bhavami ― I am like God. I am like God is way apart from below God IS… But if we can realize that if humans made no tombs, certainly their bodies will become part of the nature which is the natural law of human existence.  We love life so much. We have not had enough of it. To satisfy our own human existence we become prey to selfishness and greed.
The sacrifice of such vices can be started as a personal social responsibility at a very intimate and individual level. So it becomes the self-responsibility of every human person. This is the kind of sacrifice Gandhiji spoke about. It takes sacrifice to serve the needs of other people ― the sacrifice of one’s own pride and prejudice, among other things. Greed, pride and selfishness will destroy the union between man and God, between man and nature, between man and woman, between woman and woman, between man and man, and finally between self and self. That can escalate to a situation of man against humanity and humanity against man. Self becoming enemy of Self!
World is in the midst of a catastrophe: Natural calamities in the Philippines and human trafficking in Nigiria; Ebola in Africa; Religious fundamentalists attack in Middle East; Global warming and Environmental poisoning; Global financial crisis and cancerous growth of Greed; Technological advancement and Irresponsible Attitude of Humans, etc., are some of the eventualities that we experience and witness on a daily basis.

4. Rights without Responsibilities?
No life, no misery. No life, No happiness…
Anthony Gidden in view of the active citizenship propagated the slogan 'no rights without responsibility'. It essentially encourages a communitarian response which is on the basis of mutual sharing. Anything that is mutual that sustains and what is not mutual prone to collapse or make dents in the system. A respiratory system functions on healthy breaking in and breathing out. When it is one way, the system is at fault. Imagine, if we only focused on breathing in…
Rights always entail responsibilities, obligations, or even duties.[10] In fact, it is today we need to talk about rights as the counterpart of responsibilities. We as the citizens of the biggest democracy in the world are entitled with fundamental duties and rights. On fulfilling upon the duties or responsibilities we are entitled to enjoy certain rights as the citizens.
Similarly, both science and religion have certain rights as the actors in the society. They can only enjoy those rights provided they fulfill the responsibilities to the society without forgetting the fact that they sustain and flourish in the society with the tax-payers’ money. This also includes a special responsibility for discovering truths and facts, and for protecting them from the destructive impacts. However, here the issue is, how to balance the rights and responsibilities paving waves to the progress and welfare of the society in which they operate?
In short, we must use the tools of modernity to cope with living in a world 'beyond tradition' and 'on the other side of nature,' where risk and responsibility have a mix. [11]

5. Man is to ask Questions…
Tracing the history of scientific and religious quests, we can substantiate that both have evolved out of the inquisitiveness of human beings. As a pioneer among the living species, human being's inquisitiveness to his surroundings, into what is happening within and around him, initiated him to observe and solve any mystery that he witnessed. Man’s inquiry into why the sun rises and sets, why trees grow, why the sky is blue, why there are so many species around him, etc... Similarly, man was haunted with the questions of his own existence ― who am I? What is the purpose of life? Why is there so much conflict and tension within me? What is death? Is there anything beyond death? ― are the questions in the purview of religion.
Man’s responsibility is to ask questions whereas machines will only answer. Machines are made to give answers. Machines or the so called technology is the by-product of man’s inquisitiveness to strive for his own progress en route to his search for everlasting happiness.
What says religion? The answer is what says the human. We are going to decide.[12] What responsibilities must we have? It certainly would be an insane question to ask at this point. But I would like to ask that question through this paper.
Society, religion, philosophy, culture and theology are not advancing at the same pace that of science and technology. The future lies entirely in our own hands. Respect for human life is accepted universally.[13] The complementary nature of science and religion are very encouraging and giving hope for the triune concept of man, nature and God. It is our responsibility to decide our own future. Balance of the nature must not be destroyed. Because, everything is for the human beings which both religions and science have irrefutably accepted.  
Religion is the experience of human beings whereas science is the experiment of humans in search of validating the experience. There can be no conflict between science and religion. They both have the same mission: To provide for the welfare of mankind and to let man live in happiness, friendship and in peace. Science is developed with experience, with intellect, with wisdom and creativity.[14] The subject of religion is the source of knowledge and the source of the creation of human beings.
We understand that science and religion are two aspects of the whole. They complete each other. Intellect and knowledge gained by science is power. How are we going to control that power?[15] Science has both the right to accept and responsibility to refuse.[16] Just as the plurality of the public realm must be protected from intrusion by social forces such as conformity, so too do social interests need to be protected from intrusion by the political expectations of openness and equality.[17]

Science and religion are responsible for world building and life enhancing. They are not rivals rather they are complimentary treading the path of social welfare and progress. And we as the actors of the science and religion, it is our responsibility to build a world of our imaginations. What kind of a world are we trying to build? ― A world of greed, pride and selfishness or a world of prosperity and happiness? Are we trying to build a human centric world where humaneness and empathy are strong pillars? This question certainly not science and religion should answer but it should reverberate in the heart of each of us.
Remembering the words of martin Luther King, Jr.: "science deals mainly with facts; religion deals mainly with values," and that of Einstein: "Religion without science is lame; science without religion is blind." If so can we think of a science without humanity and a religion without sacrifice? And of course, rights without responsibilities…  Can there be a science or religion without humans?
It is understood that we must search for the truth by using our creative thinking endlessly. But in application we must respect and value human life, human dignity by being socially responsible humans whose ultimate goal should be that antidote which the learned or realized people mandated as social responsibility. That social responsibility can only flow from the self-responsibility.
Lokasamasta suhino bhavanto must be the social responsibility of science and religion at every moment. Now we have the opportunity, awareness, wisdom, innovation and technology to achieve social welfare and progress, if only we become human-centric; if only we have the wisdom and conscience. In short, personal responsibility or self responsibility is the key. Therefore final decision or answer must come from within each of us whether it is science or religion.
No man's land is land that is unoccupied or is under dispute between parties that leave it unoccupied due to fear or uncertainty.[18]
Do you love to live in a no man’s land?

HeartSpeaks Foundation
Dr. Joji Valli

 Dr. Kuruvilla Pandikkattu - Welcome address
Dr. Joji Valli - Preparing for Q&A

[1] Stephen R. Covey, Principle Centered Leadership, (Simon and Schuster, New York, 1992), p.91
[2] Ibid
[3] J.S. Rajput (Ed.), Seven Social Sins: The Contemporary Relevance, (Allied Publishers, New Delhi, 2012), p.123
[4] Ibid
[5] Global Freedom Network is a social responsible act inviting all citizens of all religions to follow it closely for the progress of the society. It is a societal moment initiated in the spirit of individuals who have transcended into a terrain human existence who are dedicated souls of our times.
[6] Glopal Freedom Network: <>, Retrieved on December 8, 2014
[7] Kuruvilla Pandikattu, Sevagram and sarvodaya: The relevance of Gandhian Symbols for a viable Future, in Kuruvilla Pandikattu (Ed.), Gandhi: The Meaning of Mahatma for the Millennium, p.199
[8] Ibid.
[9] Anil DuttMisra, SushmaYadav, Gandhian Alternative (vol. 3: Socio-Political Thoughts), (Concept Publishing Company, New Delhi, 2005), p.118
[10] Adalbert Evers, Anne-Marie Guillemard (Ed), Social Policy and Citizenship: The Changing Landscape, (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2013), p.22
[11] Anthony Gidden, The Third Way: The Renewal of Social Democracy (Polity Press, Malden- USA, 2013), p.68
[12] Christopher Nimsky, Rudolf Fahlbusc, Medical Technologies in Neurosurgery (Springer, Austria, 2007), p.16
[13] Ibid.
[14] Ibid.
[15] Ibid.
[16] Lisa L. Stenmark, Religion, Science, and Democracy: A Disputational Friendship, p.165
[17] Ibid.
[18] No man’s land, <>, Retrieved on December 8, 2014.

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