Industrial Revolution 4.0: Is India Headed Towards Tech Colonisation?

Industrial Revolution 4.0: Is India Headed Towards Tech Colonisation?


Day 1 - Opening Session At The Junction 2017

[Note: This article is part of The Junction Series, being held from January 12-14, 2017. Learn more about The Junction here!]

With 300 of the most influential tech enthusiasts, speakers, VCs, angel investors, and international delegates, Inc42’s flagship conference The Junction kicked off today. In the city of Jaipur, where culture and technology have joined hands for sustainable growth and development, The Junction began with enthusiasm and zeal, in the presence of curated mentors and tech giants of the Indian startup ecosystem.

Power Lies In Disruptive Technologies: T.V. Mohandas Pai

The Junction began with T.V. Mohandas Pai, Chairman, Aarin Capital Partners address, where he initiated an entry into the conference’s first panel discussion, The Fourth Industrial Revolution and its implications for the Indian startup ecosystem. According to Pai, the fourth industrial revolution is characterised by forces that will change the world, i.e. the new business models.

He said that with the advent of technology, the disparities that exist in the various parts of the world have been reduced and communities have come closer to each other. Alternative forms of energies have taken centre stage and innovations are now driven by cost-efficiency and change in the modes of production as well as consumption.

Added T.V Mohandas Pai, “With the advent of the new industrial age, it will lead to automation and reduced human effort. It will also change the patterns of capital and its accumulation.”

Disruptive modes of technology come hand-in-hand with disruptive capital, which essentially is the driving force behind the burst of innovation and the future is all about intelligent machines now. According to Pai, startups must look forward to tackle global competition for real growth.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution: Meanings And Modes

The First lndustrial revolution was characterised by steam engines, the Second by mass production. The Third wave of the industrial innovation was the adoption of automation and digitisation of our world, as we know it. India is now on the verge of Industrial Revolution 4.0, i.e. the fusion of technologies which is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres.


When compared with previous industrial revolutions, the Fourth is evolving at an exponential,  rather than a linear pace. Breakthroughs have essentially happened in the fields of machine learning, IoT, mobile technology and connectivity, autonomous vehicles, 3-D printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, materials science, energy storage, and quantum computing.

Began Sharad Sharma, founder of iSPIRT and the moderator for the session, “What marks the advent into the fourth industrial revolution is that knowledge can now be encapsulated in machines, and here lies in the opportunity for India and Indian startups to solve problems of the real world.”

Revolution 4.0: Boon Or Curse For The Indian Tech Scene

According to the panelists, the excessive development happening in the Indian entrepreneurial ecosystem and technological space has both positive and potential negative aspects to it.

Said Sudhir Sethi, Managing Director, IDG Ventures India, “Six major areas can be marked out where the fourth industrial revolution would prove to be a great positive push. They are a digital connect of SMBs in India, revolutionisation of the Indian farming sector, evolved models of finance, loans, and payments, government’s support towards the Digital India drive, development and usage of alternative resources of energy, and most importantly capital absorption from Indians. The fourth revolution cannot happen if it does not utilise risk capital available from our own country.”

On the other hand, with increasing use of data and its penetration in everyday life, technology can sometimes also have serious repercussions. Said Krishnan Ganesh, founder, Portea Medical, “It has now become very easy to understand and decipher consumption patterns and enter into people’s lives.”

A Mindset Change Is The Need Of The Hour

In today’s volatile tech scenario, startups need to be disruptive and shake the world. Added Krishnan, “Startups should not try to improve upon existing models, but build products that solve India-specific problems. They should think 5-10 years ahead and looking at China as a model as a role model and not the US.”

For the people working in the entrepreneurial context, infrastructure and investment then become the two pillars for startups to scale. But it was Sudhir who came up with apt concluding lines. “India’s capitalist class should invest 2% of what they earn into the startup ecosystem. If this doesn’t happen, we are going to become tech colonies for either the US or China.”

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