Industrial Revolution 4.0

GS 3 Science and Technology Developments and their applications and effects in everyday life. Awareness in the fields of IT, Computers, robotics, nano-technology.


          The Fourth Industrial Revolution/Industry 4.0 is the ongoing automation of traditional manufacturing and industrial practices, using modern smart technology.


  • Continued Presence of Informal Economy: Nearly 90% of India’s workforce belongs to the informal sector.
  • Contractualization of employment: 
    • The share of contract workers in total employment in India increased from 15.5% in 2000-01 to 27.9% in 2015-16. 
    • The share of directly hired workers fell from 61.2% to 50.4% over the same period.
  • Gig Economy: 
    • It is characterised by short-term contracts or freelance work as opposed to permanent jobs.
    • It often involves connecting with customers through an online platform
    • In India, there are about 3 million gig workers 
    • Example
      • Delivery boys of app-based food
      • consultants
      • bloggers.
  • Resource scarcity and climate change: According to the report Global Trends 2030
    • demand for energy and water is to increase by 50% and 40% by 2030. 
    • Jobs will be created in 
      • alternative energy
      • new engineering processes
      • product design
      • waste management
      • re-use

The Drivers of Change:

          Large-scale machine-to-machine communication (M2M) and the internet of things (IoT) are integrated for increased automation, improved communication and self-monitoring, and production of smart machines that can analyze and diagnose issues without the need for human intervention.

  • Technological breakthroughs: New technological innovations bringing transformative impact on the nature work.such as 
    • Big Data
    • 3-D printing
    • artificial intelligence
    • robotics
  • Demographic Changes: the world’s population is ageing, putting pressure on business, social institutions and economies. The shortage of a human workforce has necessitated automation.
  • Rapid urbanisation: The UN projects that by 2050, the world’s urban population will increase by some 72%. 
    • Rapidly growing cities have become drivers of a new industrial revolution.
  • Shifts in global economic power: Power shifting between developed and developing countries with a large working-age population will attract investments and become a driving force for the future of work.


  • Low Job Creation: Job creation has not been sufficient to absorb the growth in the number of people seeking jobs.
    • As of 2016, 198 million jobless people globally who have been actively seeking employment
  • Poor Quality Employment: 
    • nearly 43% of employed people were in own-account or contributing family work which is often characterized by low pay, informality and limited social security.
  • Income inequality: ILO observes that although workers have become increasingly productive, the benefits of their work have increasingly accrued to capital income and to those at the top of the income distribution.
  • Gender Pay gap: 
    • female labour force participation has increased
    • the gender pay gap remains a major concern, women being paid 20% less than men.
  • Digital Divide: 
    • Only 53.6% of all households have internet access.
    • In emerging countries, the share is only 15%
    • Given the rapid technological advancements, digital divide remains a key challenge for skill development and employment opportunities.
  • Impact of Technology on Employment: 
    • There are fears that technological development will lead to job destruction
    • Automation could be harmful for labour-intensive industries in India such as 
      • textiles
      • finance
      • construction
      • hospitality
      • travel
      • tourism
      • media
      • electronics
      • mining
      • agriculture
      • transportation
      • entertainment.
  • The Indian ICT sector is susceptible to AI/robots replacing workers in its major IT export markets.
  • The retail sector, the largest employer of lower skill youth, is job shedding as e-retail accelerates and human jobs in logistics, warehousing and delivery services are being robotised.

Way Forward 

  • Universal Labour Guarantee: 
    • should pledge to provide a universal labour guarantee that protects 
      • fundamental workers’ rights
      • adequate living wage
      • limits on hours of work
      • safe and healthy workplaces
  • Lifelong Learning: 
    • to provide a universal entitlement 
    • to lifelong learning that enables people 
    • to acquire skills 
    • to reskill and up skill.
  • Investment to support Work Transition: Investments in the institutions, policies and strategies.
    • that will support people through future of work transitions.
  • Agenda for Gender Equality: in order to achieve gender equality.
    • It is important to strengthen women’s voice and leadership.
    • eliminating violence and harassment at work.
    • implementing pay transparency policies.
  • Social Protection: from birth to old age that supports people’s needs over the life cycle should be provided.
  • Governance for Digital Platforms: An international governance system for digital labour platforms should be established to protect minimum rights of workers.
  • Sustainable Work: Incentives are required to promote investments in key areas for decent and sustainable work- in areas of green, rural economy, small and medium enterprises
  • Human centric business and economic Model: 
    • Distributional dimensions of growth
    • the value of unpaid work performed in the service of households and communities
    • the externalities of economic activity, 
      • should be taken into account 
  • Roadmap for India: India should adopt Chard Dham Roadmap for steering technological change.
  • Gyaan Dham: 
    • a national observatory for scoping the tech-to-work equation.
    • Databases on existing and future trends, sector by sector, needs to be created.
  • Kaushalya Dham:
    • It means nurturing “human capabilities” for Tech-Economy 4.0 work.
    • To meet labour market needs, potential skill gaps must be closed through the NEP and comprehensive training infrastructure.
  • Suniyojan Dham: It involves transformative investments in multi-stakeholder ecosystems to empower the youth and women through future-of-work transitions.
  • Samajik Nyaya Dham:
    • means ensuring a just transition through a new social compact among all stakeholders and a universal social protection floor
    • human-centred and equity-based approach in future labour market policies and standards is needed.
  • Upakram Dham: 
  • It involves taking special initiatives enabling India to leverage the world’s third-largest ICT workforce to pole-vault into Tech4 excellence
  • critical assets:
    • India’s diversity 
    • scale for neural net
    • data richness
    • huge base of engineers
    • mathematicians and coders of AI available or trainable at scale
    • decent ecosystems in ICT metros.


       The fourth industrial revolution or Industry 4.0 has become quite a buzzword. Economies across the globe are all set to adopt it and India is also treading the path in its own way.

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