Progress Doesn’t Always Mean Wealth or Technology Prowess


Today I was thinking about the idea of progress in a country. My friend and I were talking about 2 incidents that took place within a couple of days of each other. In both cases, a car being rashly driven by two people tried to overtake another car multiple times and pushed the car to a corner. Th victim in both incidents rolled down their windows and told the rash car to go a little slow and carefully. The two guys in both incidents stepped out, broke the windshield, damaged the car and thrashed the innocent driver.

These two separate incidents show the kind of road rage that takes place on Indian roads. People with power get away with these kind of acts and there is no one to question them. In Indian mega-cities like Bangalore,  where progress is akin to having a bungalow, multiple cars or lots of wealth is creating major tensions. Is this progress?

I looked up the word Progress and it is defined as forward or onward movement. advance or development towards a better state. But what is progress without values, which is moral or professional standards of behavior?

Does the idea of progress lie more in human values or in technological development and wealth creation?

Let me take another example – of India and Japan. India became independent in 1945 and on the other side of the spectrum, Japan stood completely devastated in 1945. Where are the two nations today? Japan is miles ahead of us in terms of progress even though they are in debt, have face multiple natural disasters and has an ageing population. It is estimated that India will take at-least 40 odd years to reach the level of progress that Japan has achieved today. Till then Japan would be light years ahead. What has made Japan progress so far? I attribute this solely to the human values of the Japanese – sincerity and hard-work.

The human values that contribute towards progress vary from country to country, society to society and individual to individual. You ask a sports person say Roger Federer as to what has contributed to his success in the game of tennis and he might say dedication and hard-work. It is not his expensive hi tech shoes or racket which are products of technology and his created wealth, though they aid his precision in the game.Ultimately it’s human values and habits that have contributed to his success.

Coming to back to progress of Nations, it is again values that probably make a USA or a Germany tick. If people have to put in 40 hours of work per week, they make sure they do not waste a single minute and then  take off on weekends dedicating it to their personal lives. Here in India, our working hours are longer but the amount of time we waste chatting away is extraordinary. When we consider these countries, they could achieve a level of progress not just because of technological development but because of human values primarily. These values have contributed in people inventing new things or developing interesting technology. There is so much we can learn from how some of these countries and their basic work ethic has done for them.

Not for a moment am I saying that there aren’t people in India who are sincere, work hard, and create a life for themselves in all earnest but incidents like above also show that our basic idea of progress is flawed.

Nations, societies and humans can move forward to a better state only if we have and practice certain moral and ethical standards of behavior or principles. Values have paramount importance to lead to progress than just creating wealth and advancing technologically.


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