Skipping the Industrial Revolution

image002By Ishan Banerjee

Ask a majority of the Indian population currently pursuing their undergraduate education right now “When do you think India had it’s Industrial Revolution?” Most would agree to the national rhetoric and reply sometime just after independence.

Contrary to popular belief, India at independence, was strictly not deficient in terms of industrial growth. It had one of the largest Railways, the largest jute industry and a giant textile industry. We were proudly the 7th largest country in terms of volume of Industrial production. So the thought of British de-industrializing, even if it gathers a much of national sentiment, might have been a fable.

Coming back to the first ever Industrial Revolution, why the industrial revolution took off exactly in Britain is still a puzzle to a lot many social scientists. Some agree that it could have been in France or Spain and even China. Like the invention of wheel or fire, everyone sooner or later would everyone would be able to reap the benefits of the industrial revolution.

The first revolution, even though looked at with glorious lights faced the evil of overexploitation of the labour. With time, Labour laws and Unions seemed to have cured that.
The Second Industrial Revolution came around 1870s to 1900s with the massive mechanization of production. Even if it employed a large population, it unemployed even a larger one. But of course, it has always been about the survival of the fittest.

Taking quite a few steps ahead we find ourselves at the dawn of the third Industrial revolution. The Third Industrial Revolution or more commonly known as the Digital Revolution. Big Data and 3D printing are the biggest guns in it’s arsenal. Big Data if managed well can deliver powerful insights and 3D printing which creates a solid object by building up successive layers of material has so much potential one could only imagine. Witnessing such a revolution, couldn’t get any more dramatic.

India has never seen a full blown Industrial Revolution. Whatever transformation happened in the Indian Industrial sector, is just plain simple catching up by Indian Industries. So essentially, India has skipped the industrial revolution, not only one but both of them. Unfortunately one closely followed by the other.

But history has never had any permanent favourites and times have changed. Big Data and 3D printing are universal knowledge like steam engine and railways in the 18th century, although the population and the number of global super powers have multiplied.

The future lies with the super power which is able to utilize it’s resources best and the best resource has always been the human resource. At the dawn of this new industrialization era India, China and USA are of course the new superpowers. However, the most important text lies in History text books a hundred years from today under the title

“Who took the lead away?”


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