Man and Machines
Man is the only tool-using animal. The evolution of the human body give man a most valuable limb, namely his thumb, which is separated from the other four fingers and which gives a sure grip n things. The savage in the stone age could set his skill by a successful throw of a piece of stone with the combined help of his palm, his thumb and his four fingers. One cannot think of manual activities or manual work without thinking of the thumb of our hand.
For peaceful avocations like cooking, walking with a stick, fishing, writing, painting, playing musical instruments or even for lighting a matchstick the thumb is indispensable. With the advance of civilization and with the birth of arts as agriculture, spinning, weaving and house-building, or road-making man needed many tools. These were the earliest examples of man’s use of machines. The most important invention of ancient time was the wheel which considerably lightened human labour and enhanced its power.
Many years ago the machine age began in England. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru rightly called it a greater revolution than the Russian Revolution. Machines may be man-driven like the railway engine, the motor-car, the aeroplane, buses and a thousand kinds of factories, mills and workshops. A machine is a labour-saving, time-saving and money-saving device.
Machines have increased human production capacity . India is trying to follow suit and may succeed in coming up with the other advanced countries in good time. In agricultural and other forms of production, machines can usher in an era of plenty for all mankind provided the social, political and economic systems are humanely planned and run. One cannot dream of universal prosperity without machines.
Many people attribute several evils to machines, but can we criticize against the use of something by pointing out its misuse? Machines have made possible the invention of the nuclear bomb and the horrors of a modern war. Machines have multiplied manifold the industrial production power of many nations resulting in economic rivalry, international competition and the chances of frequent wars among nations. Machines helped in the growth of monstrously big cities where millions are crowded within a small space and where the air is fouled by coal-dust, smoke and petrol exhaust. Civilization has begun to suffer from high blood pressure and there is tension in the atmosphere. The human race has become a restless race.
The remedy does not lie in the abolition of all machinery, useful or harmful, but only in the abolition of destructive and harmful machinery. Excess of anything is bad. What the world needs today is a balanced existence and a balanced growth. The world needs equilibrium and equipoise. Mahatma Gandhi and other great man were not against machines which were useful and serviceable to humanity, but they were certainly against destructive and harmful machinery. The question is whether man is the master of machine or the machine is the master of man. Already the machine has become a threat, a monster. Machine should not become, the whole of life though it should remain an important part of it. The other values of life symbolized by literature, poetry, painting, music, dancing and the other fine arts should not be neglected even in the machine age.
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