IMPACT OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF MODERN CIVILIZATION China, like India, was a developed country before the 18th century when the rest of the world remained less developed. The emergence of the modern civilization and the powerful impact of Western colonialism and finance imperialism condemned her to a developing country for one whole century. After 1949, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) launched a feverish movement to regain China’s position in the family of nations as a developed country. This feverish movement for making China "fu" (rich) and "qiang" (strong) was a successor to the May Fourth Movement (1919) which has driven home a conviction that the evil roots of China’s humiliating defeat by the western powers lay in China’s own age-old traditions. Unless China totally broke away from that tradition there would be no prospects for the emergence of a new China.The first generation of the leaders of the PRC operated on this premise; and worked hard to destroy the old and build up the new. Destroying the old was easier than building up the new as there was no suitable example to emulate. In many aspects, the PRC adopted the Soviet model, particularly the "Economic Planning" system which is now called by the Western economists as "Command Economy". This has brought a drastic change in China’s way of life. In the past, China was like the USA — a vast country with abundant resources welcoming people of various ethnic origins to settle there to develop its economy. There were two kinds of scenarios of government rule. A benevolent kind was to maintain peace and levy less tax. Economy could prosper under such regimes. Another kind was the government’s involvement in constant warfare, and had to pass on the burden to the common people. Life became miserable under such reigns. Thus, the Chinese history had projected a time-tested rhythm that grassroots initiatives were precious in developing a prosperous life in the country. The greatest difficulty in China is the size of population. The Chinese government is always proud of the fact that with only 7 per cent of the earth’s cultivated land, China is feeding 22 per cent of humankind. But, behind this proud proposition is the great strain as well. In the first place, there is tremendous population pressure on land which has to produce enough to sustain all these people. Second, with the application of modern technology China’s limited agricultural land does not need more than a fraction of this huge population to attend to it. During the Mao era, people were just whiling away time in non-productive pursuits under the management of the communes. Today, the majority of Chinese population — those who live in the countryside — have to fend for themselves. They will starve if they while away their time. But, when they want to take up production sincerely there is not enough work for most of them. Two situations have risen. In the better developed areas, people have invested in village and township industries (like India’s cottage industry) and succeeded in absorbing the surplus labour from the plantation industry. There are even some areas where all the rural population
have been absorbed into the secondary and tertiary industries, leaving the primary industry, i.e. plantation, to imported labourers. But, these are only isolated examples. Overwhelmingly large parts of China’s countryside have developed a surplus labour force without full employment. In some areas, this surplus labour has started to spill over to the affluent areas or the big cities to find odd jobs. In the last six, seven years, such movements have assumed alarming dimension in what is called "mingongchao" (waves of job-seekers). There are several tens of millions of such job-seekers flowing from the poor villages into the big cities and affluent coastal areas today which is a serious destabilizing factor in China’s socio-economic life right now, and, in course of time, would become a political destabilizing force if the trend is not timely checked.