Fourth Industrial Revolution – What it means for India?

Jul 27, 2019 by Gitumani Talukdar #Business & Economy

The word Revolution has different connotation attached to it when used in a different context. Like in the field of political science, revolution can refer to a sudden amount of changes in the political organization as well as the political power. French Revolution dated back in the 17th century can be called as the economic revolution where the middle class spearheaded an alternative of creating different democratic institutions against the power of the elite class. Revolution is the extreme form of change and can lead to the occurrence of different dimensions to an event.

The first Industrial Revolution took place in the period of 1760 to 1840 where the revolution of making a shift to manufacturing processes in Europe took place. Textiles were the leading industries and the mechanized factories were run by water wheel along with the use of a steam engine at the new workplace.

The revolution had both its pros and cons. Technically there was massive unemployment as manual work had an alternative as its competitor.
According to a book called “Behemoth: The Making of Factory and the Modern World”, by Joshua B. Freeman, the dynamics of new and modern technologies ushered has introduced more changes followed by the second industrial revolution where there was a tremendous transformation in the lives of the people. Advances in the production of steel, chemicals and electricity helped in the production of fuel that also consist of weapons and consumer goods.

The human race finds it easier to board on trains and bicycles. This also caught the attention of media and at the same time, different innovative thoughts and ideas were spread via newspapers. telegraph wires and radio. The word faster literally got its name.

People who were self-regulated were known for being restricted within the factory timelines around different sessions. This also reflected the kind of time-oriented services being rendered by the rural middle-class workers who were now being directed by wealthy entrepreneurs.

From time immemorial, the generation of mankind has timely tested and perfected its industrial revolution by not only relying upon technical transformation but also reinventing its new resources. Nearly a century later, after the event of the second revolution, a new kind of revolution of energy occurred, also known as the third revolution in 1969. This introduced the modern use of energy, that surpassed traditional energies like nuclear energies. It was the time of the rise of electronics with the use of microprocessor and transistor along with the emergence of telecommunications and computers.

In the book called “The End of Work: The Decline of the Global Labor Force and the Dawn of the Post – Market Era”, by Jeremy Rifkin, the author rightly described the disadvantage that any technological revolution can give rise to. Among various of the reasons, the contented was the worldwide unemployment. Technologies had by far eliminated millions of manual jobs in sectors like manufacturing, agriculture as well as service sectors. What can be inferred from the whole scenario was that, every time a revolution took place, it has its aftermath consisting of both positive and negative aspect.

We all are aware of the fourth revolution which is gripping its own pace. Its genesis is located at the emergence of the third millennium Internet users. The way the Internet has been shaping our lives is beyond our comparisons or thought processes. This can be the first ever industrial revolution rooted in the new revolution known as the digitalization. The industry of present-day world aims to connect different means of production to enable real-time interaction. We are actually on the brink of witnessing a technological revolution that might fundamentally alter the way we respond, work and relate to one another. Many of the academicians, stakeholders, as well as experts from both public and private sectors of the civil society, are working to unfold the digital transformation humankind is about to experience.

The thread of connections between billions of people connected through mobile phones, internet interface, along with the knowledge of unprecedented processing power, access to knowledge is not limited, all thanks to the digital interface. One click and the information is right at your screen. Artificial intelligence, robotics, nanotechnology, biotechnology and quantum computing are some of the examples of the technological revolutions.

In India, the fourth industrial revolution is underway. Though a lot many people are not aware of its massive domain, yet entrepreneurs, CEO’s and various company founders are rapidly acknowledging the fact of involving Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things and various advanced robotics and neuroscience. Right from the inception of Digital India policy by the government of India, from water pumps, railway coaches to burger shops and telecom towers, the fourth Industrial revolution has taken over the space of mankind. In India, the revolution in the present time is accompanied by modern research, tremendous opportunities along with different platforms for such experiments to take place.

Fourth Industrial revolution for India would mean a heap of opportunities for channelizing different thought processes. The new India will rope in various technological advancement in medicines, research and economic outlook/ It will change the way people will perceive in future tackling various challenges. Various companies are in pilot research of utilizing different resources in diverse ways, so as to totally migrate some of its business functions to Artificial Intelligence led processes. This has also to do with minute details observation and time-consuming analysis.

However, as discussed above any kind of revolution has a natural fear attached to it. The repeated use of automation especially in the banking industry through chatbots and humanoid robots has quietly taken much of the work of manual labour. Head to any of the branches of HDFC bank, a robot name Ira will greet the public and assist in whatever way possible. The tasks done by these robots are fully accurate and are error free. There are several predictions that job losses owing to such automation will definitely occur in the long run, symptoms of which are now visible. It is also estimated that one out of four job losses will occur in India because of massive automation.

While most of the companies are ensuring the survival of the manual labour force by making them well equipped with the latest technologies, yet it is not sure how will the people react to such training and adaption. As a silver lining, India has consistently improved it’s Global Innovation Index(GII) rankings. It is ranked 57th out of 126 countries as per the latest data release. But the point of concern is that according to research conducted by OECD, India’s Gross Domestic Expenditure on research and development was only 0.85% of its GDP.

This is surely a poor number in comparison to various other countries. What India needs is a collaborative effort of sustainable measures in research that will severe a gainful return. India should capitalize on its demographic divided which will guarantee growth in future. By 2050, India is expected to account for over 18% of the world working population. Government initiatives like skills, technical as well as vocational training will surely help in enhancing public-private collaboration to reap the benefits of the demographic dividend which in turn will allow them to adapt to the fourth degree Industrial Revolution.