Essay : Industrial Revolution 4.0 (4IR) & Bangladesh

Industrial Revolution 4.0 (4IR) & Bangladesh
Industry 4.0 & Bangladesh 

Introduction : Industry 4.0 or 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) is one of the most discussed issues recently in Bangladesh. Seminars, conferences and round table discussions are being organized by different stakeholders on 4IR and its problems and prospects. Scholars are trying to make stakeholders aware of 4IR concept and inspiring entrepreneurs to adopt newer technologies to get advantages out of it. 

Industrial Revolution : The term revolution means radical change of existing order in favour of a newer one. Industrial revolution refers to the radical improvement of manufacturing and other technologies that have completely changed the previous scenario and established a newer version with positive shift of industrialization. 

History of Industrial Revolution : Before 18th century world economy was mainly dependent on agriculture. Agricultural production was the prime mover of world GDP. Till then people used to make products in their homes by using handmade tools. 

Industry 1.0 : 1st Industrial Revolution took place in Europe and North America in 18th century with invention of steam engine. 1st industrial sector i.e. Textiles and iron industry began journey in Europe. Starting in 1784 Industry 1.0 lasted till the ending of 19th century. 

Industry 2.0 : 2nd Industrial Revolution was driven by invention of new sources of power like electricity, oil, and gas in the 1870s. Textile industry progressed into synthetic age. fertilizers were invented to increase agricultural production, oil and gas mining sectors were added with iron and coal mining, communication technologies like telegraph, telephone was invented during this period. A remarkable invention of Industry 2.0 was invention of assembly line by Ford Motors. Large scale production concept and concept of mass factory were invented by Industry 2.0 and lasted till middle of the 1960s. Main players of Industry 2.0 were the European countries like UK, France, Italy, and Germany. 

Industry 3.0 : 3rd Industrial Revolution began in 1969 with invention of newer sources of energy like nuclear power, innovation of computer technology and massive progress of semi-conductor. Electronic and electrical sector started its miracle from the beginning of Industry 3.0. Telecommunication sector especially mobile communication technology, invention of internet, email communication, massive progress of medical technologies, etc. took place during Industry 3.0. Newer economies like Japan, China, Brazil, etc. became part and parcel of world economy during this period. 

Industry 4.0 : 4th Industrial Revolution is a much-discussed topic nowadays. The 4.0 is characterized like robotics, AI (Artificial Intelligence), nanotechnology, quantum computing, biotechnology, Internet of Things (IoT), 5G, additive manufacturing/3D printing, and fully autonomous vehicles. From construction into healthcare, from production into post-consumption behavior of the consumers, everywhere a new and perfect age started. 

It is very essential for entrepreneurs to adopt newer technologies use newer machineries and produce products or provide services according to the changed demand of consumers. 

Challenges and Opportunities : The Fourth Industrial Revolution has the potential to raise global income levels and improve the quality of life for population around the world. Those who have gained the most from it have been consumers who are able to afford and access the digital world; technology has made possible new products and services that increase the efficiency and pleasure of our personal lives. Ordering a cab booking a flight, buying a product, making a payment, listening to music, watching a film or playing a game- any of these can now be done remotely. 

In the future, technological innovation will also lead to a supply-side miracle, with long-term gains in efficiency and productivity. Transportation and communication costs will drop, logistics and global supply chains will become more effective and the cost of trade will diminish, all of which will open new market and drive economic growth. 

The economists Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee have pointed out, the revolution could yield greater inequality, particularly in its potential to disrupt labour markets. As automation substitutes for labour across the entire economy, the net displacement of workers by machines might exacerbate the gap between capital and returns to labour. On the other hand, it is also possible that the displacement of workers by technology will, in aggregate, result in a net increase in safe and rewarding jobs. 

The demand for highly skilled workers has increased while the demand for workers with less education and lower skills has decreased. The result is a job market with strong demand at the high and low ends, but a hollowing out of the middle. 

Industry 4.0 & Bangladesh : The Fourth Industrial Revolution might hit Bangladesh’s economy badly and create huge challenges for the country, if it fails to embrace advanced digital technology. According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), around 800 million people worldwide are likely to lose their jobs by 2030. During the same period, jobs abroad and at home of approximately 5.7 million unskilled workers from Bangladesh would be terminated. This is quite a frightening employment scenario for the country. But at the same time, its plus point is its high proportion of young population. Now the demographic pattern here in Bangladesh can be made either an asset or a huge burden. 

In 2009 when the Awami League came to power, their election slogan had been ‘Digital Bangladesh’. Bangladesh has already started to respond to these mega shifts through Digital Bangladesh program. Bangladesh has achieved significant digital transformation from 2009 to 2019. The number of internet users has increased from more than 95 million and the number of mobile subscriptions has increased from 20 million to 158 million. 

The Access to Information (a2i) program of Prime Minister’s office established 5,286+ digital centers, e-procurement, 100+ simplified public services and smart healthcare, for instance, are leading us on 4IR pathway. 

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is characterised by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital and biological spheres collectively referred to as cyber physical system. Bangladesh needs to formulate policies to face the challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. 

In the context of Bangladeshi industries and our readiness to adopt 4IR technologies, major Bangladeshi business sector are- readymade garments, leather and leather goods, plastics, light engineering, agro processing, electrical and electronics, fashion designing, IT, ship building, tourism, textiles, ceramics, pharmaceuticals, infrastructural development, healthcare and diagnostics etc. Bangladeshi export is mainly dependent upon a single sector readymade garments during last 3 and more decades. 

Local scholars are advising government and private sectors to lock into the matter of diversifying export basket but yet to select the right products for export diversification. 

Conclutions : If properly planned, our manpower can be raised as most competent people who will be able to face any challenge from the upcoming industrial age. Education comes first in order to merit. The existing education system will not be able to prepare today’s children for the industrial transformation. It is to be reformed according to the need of the time. There is no alternative to massive investment in education.


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