Mahatma Gandhi Community Forum

What is a techno-fix?

Technology as a solution for Sustainable Development has been gaining ground these days, combined with innovative ideas such as social networking. How far the technological devices and tools help the human kind at times of disaster and to maintain integrated, sustainable development is a subject matter for those who believe in the supremacy of technology and its dynamic changes occurring on that front every day. But, how less it can contribute to the same is the worrisome outcome of the research done on the other aspects of life in future.

In the book “Gandhian Alternative” by RP Misra and KD Gangrade published by Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti, economics has been analyzed in various dimensions giving a broad focus on people-centric issues and solutions. In one of the chapters, it clearly states that ‘…ecologically sustainable development by definition must maintain the systems and processes that allow or constitute sustainability and not merely concentrate on the preservation of a single species at the expense of those systems and processes.’ Our efforts to protect one species, say for example, ‘Saving tigers’ is absolutely a needless scheme of things which does nothing for sustainable development. The man-made efforts to kill some animals to feed tigers on a regular basis does not attribute to sustainability.

Currently, our sustainable development policy (Bruntland Commission) reports the relationship between the human needs and non-human needs in the ecosystem. The environment remains solely a human artifact and is not values in and of itself. Ecological sustainability is defined solely in terms of human sustainability rather than ecological sustainability. It places faith in the invention of new tools what we imagine or dream and put them in use to solve our problems. Further, it implicitly places a dutiful devotion in technology in the sense that technology not only can solve our ecological problems but problems created by the technological solutions to the previous problems. Such a dependence on technology for resolving our environmental problems is termed as “Techno-Fix” by the authors of this book.

When technology after technology is applied on a problem, problem gets complicated and solutions get outdated or unreliable for no legitimate reasons. When a pesticide kills a portion of insects in a farm field, those fortunate ones escaped develop immunity and offspring as well, demanding another pesticide of higher dose to get eradicated. Thus, a cycle of technological evolution is created in order to keep the fields off the insects.

Technology also creates another issue of cash economy wherein the inventions of hybrids and bio-technological varieties are being pushed into agro-market. The traditional system of segregating seed varieties, the use of natural manures, home-made pesticides have completely been replaced by new techniques which need to be purchased in the specified marketplace.

Thus, a Techno-Fix is a problem in itself. Those who believe that technology is the only answer to a problem must have to do a little introspection before suggesting it. They must understand that not every ecological or environmental problem is susceptible to a technological solution. Those problems may require a political, social, education, economic or moral solutions.

It is a common mistake to confuse technology with a tool. Technology is not simply a tool, but the application of that tool as well. That is why, technology is not morally neutral. While the tool is being invented, application of that tool need not be invented. If you continue to apply a tool for your problem, you become more dependent on technology.

If the technology is just an application of idea, or a unique technique that solves your problem that is the most preferred technology. It enhances the intrinsic value of the concerned human and benefits the society as a whole even if it is owned by a single individual.

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