SUJIT DE, KOLKATA
This refers to the letter, ‘World loses brightest star in Hawking’s death’ by Bidyut Chatterjee (NT, March 15). In Stephen Hawking, we have got an assurance that our evolutionary journey is indeed towards humanism. Unfortunately, we are yet to falsify the theory of ‘survival of the fittest.’ It has been, as it were, survival of the fittest brutes, be it in a jungle or in a primitive society as well as in feudalism or in police state capitalism. But fortunately for us, after the emergence of welfare states, such a brute yardstick is getting replaced by a scientific and humane one. A welfare state is to create a level-playing field for all of its citizens by taking extra care of the downtrodden, the poor, children, women, senior citizens and differently-abled persons who have been exploited by the society since ages. Indeed, there are many instances of so-called ‘unfit’ persons outshining their ‘fit’ counterparts especially in those states where they get extra care from the state to do justice to their potentialities. We are slowly realising that we are to do better than the animals – not by fighting like them or with them – but by redefining the word ‘fitness’ in accordance with humanism and that is by trying to create an egalitarian and humane society. Our outlook has been improving every day from regressive macho fitness model. We are improving our judgement on a person’s disability from a disabled person to a physically challenged person and now in a very positive manner – as a differently-abled person. Hawking’s splendid achievements in spite of his almost total physical disability have been made possible by his mind power, state patronage and also by an engineering marvel – wheelchair which was equipped with a wonderfully friendly computer programme called Equalizer. Hawking will always be remembered as a super scientist as well as an empirical evidence that our evolutionary journey is not only from brutality to humanism but also from falsehood to the truth.