A step toward evolution

Ratna Raman

EVOLUTION is the process by which something develops. It is synonymous with advancement, growth, rise, progress, extension or even unfolding. The rosebud evolves into a gorgeous full-blown flower. Within cultures ‘dialects’ (spoken language) evolve into language when a written script comes into being. Caterpillars spin cocoons around themselves and evolve over a period of time into striking moths or butterflies.

In the fortnight that went by, the word evolution has been the subject of discussion. Darwin’s theory of evolution came under scrutiny, although India was not on the threshold of a scientific breakthrough. At the end of a ‘self-attested proclamations’ (voicing unverified opinions on a public platform) by a minister of state, Darwin’s theory was declared invalid since nobody had seen an ape turn into a man. Darwin’s theory was not based upon visual evidence provided by dead forefathers but upon extensive study and analysis of different kinds of living organisms over hundreds and thousands of years.

Systems of checks and balances fine-tune and further evolution. The onslaught of unscientific approaches to knowledge systems continues. India cannot be declared the home-ground of plastic surgery or aeronautical engineering even though our poets and storytellers offer us magical narratives. A diploma course in MBBS cannot become the criterion for practitioners of alternative medical systems to qualify as allopathic doctors. Standing logic and rationality on its head will ensure a ‘devolution’ (descent into a worse state) from scientific understanding to superstitious beliefs and malpractices.

The noun devolution also indicates the transfer or delegation of power to a lower level, for instance from the central to local bodies. Historically, devolution of power has enabled both redistribution and ‘revolution’ (Latin, turn around) to bring about the rise of modern democracies.

The devolution of factually incorrect information is unlikely to have a transformative impact. False proclamations by ministers of state will contribute to the devolution (dispersal, transfer) of truth in favour of imagined fictions or lies. This will not revolutionise lives or minds. Instead false ideas will continue to revolve (move in a cyclical manner) through the psyches of impressionable minds and psyches.

False ideas or untruths cause irreversible damage. False spins of narrative must be critically examined.

The rampage and violence orchestrated by the Karni Sena over Padmaavat, heinous killings unleashed by gau-rakshaks and violent flareups leading to the death of an ordinary Indian on Republic Day, prove that power and control have devolved from the state to ‘erstwhile’ (former) fringe groups.

We need ideas that will transform lives. In the heavens, planets make long revolutions around the sun, while ‘rotating’ (spinning) on their axis at the same time.The momentum of this measured cosmic movement continues to enable harmonious coexistence and optimal possibility. Must we not evolve while we revolve?

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