The book is a brilliant socio-cultural study of the contemporary Indian society in the context of the invasion of the "culture of technology". The recent spate of technological advancements involves much more than the mere use of lifeless mechines. It is an inculcation of a constellation ofvalues and ideas — a new culture. In a tradition-bound society like India the "culture of technology" is looked at with panic and suspicion. The phenomenon of dehumanisation and the erosion of human values associated with this culture seems to confuse the Indian mind. Yet, India has not been able to withhold the march of this culture. Dr. Johnson makes a penetrating analysis of the Indian predicament with reference to the reactions of Gandhi, Sri Aurobindo and Jayaprakash Narayan; and offers a futuristic assessment of the problem. He argues that the solution lies not in dismissing the "culture of technology" but in incorporating it within the fabric of tradition, so that India can keep pace with the time. He tackles the problem by delving deep into the intracies of the matter of tradition and technology; and spells out the changes required in our traditional way of looking at things. The book is very contemporary in its approach and reflects a rare kind of optimism about India's potentialities in facing the problem.
Tms book asserts that technology has become not only a measure of what it means to be civilized, it has created a culture of its own against which every traditional culture is forced to measure itself. In short, it is not art, literature or philosophy that measure human achievement today. Neither is it political or social structures that are the measure of human achievement. The new measure is technology.
How this new measure might have come to dominate modern societies is an historical question. Michael Adas' book titled Machines as the Measure of Men (1989) traces the adoption of technology as a measure through a study of imperialist ventures into Africa, India and China. Adas argues that the measure was promoted both by commerce and religion.
What such a measure might mean to a society still concerned about tradition is the subject of this book. India's encounter with a new constellation of compelling ideas and values that comprise modern technology occurred during the time India was dominated by Europeans, especially Great Britain. But a study of India is complicated by the fact that intellectuals of India confronted the developing culture of technology at the same time as they confronted imperialism. Thus two 10 Culture of Technology demands for a new way of life went together (the one imposed foreign rule, the other imposed a new measure of cultural achievement). The new political order, indeed, was buttressed by superior weaponry, industry, and techniques. But Westerners brought with them also the cultural ideals which provided the foundation for their technical superiority, ideals that soon became spelled out as ideals of objectivity, measurement, efficiency, and standardization. In short, from today's perspective, the significant culture that the British brought to India (however ignorant of it many of purveyors might have been) was the culture of technology.
It was, ofcourse, the technology ofweaponry, industry, and commerce that allowed Westerners to conquer and govern South Asia. But the ideas that shaped, and, indeed, drove modern technology did pose a threat to India's prized traditions (as, indeed, those ideas might be seen to pose a threat to every tradition). It remains to be seen whether it is, in fact, technology that stands as the major threat to Indians of both Hindu and Muslim persuasion. Such a statement is to suggest that it is not religious ideology or values so much as it is the intrusion of technology upon those values which divides Indians. The culture of technology irritates both sides equally. The irritant might be difficult to identify, however, since as Chapter 1 of this book argues, the culture of technology does not directly counter traditional ideas. Instead technology renders traditional ideas and values irrelevant; or it suggests that they ought to be put to different uses than they have been put to in the past.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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