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India to benefit more if it jumps into fourth Industrial Revolution

Economy of India

BY Anil K Rajvanshi

World Economic Forum concluded in Davos last month had Fourth Industrial Revolution as the major talking point. With FIR, already in action in many advanced economies, there are fears that it will create huge unemployment.

The Davos meeting was meant to discuss and allay these fears. I feel FIR for developing countries can, in fact, produce more employment and benefits.

What is FIR?

Our societies are characterised by various industrial revolutions. The first revolution started in the late 1700s when muscle power was replaced by steam – mostly produced by coal.

The second one, which can be traced to the early 1900s, was driven by electricity and characterised by big machines and assembly line manufacturing. The third, which began in the early 1960s was based on computers, information technology (IT), electronics and automated production.

The present revolution is characterised by the internet of things (IOT) — 24/7 connectivity, rapid communication, miniaturisation of design and 3D printing which allows for manufacturing and production of goods wherever they are needed. I feel that IOT and 3D printing (or additive manufacturing) have the capability of allowing countries like India to leapfrog into the FIR.

India is already a decentralised society where more than 60 percent of its population lives in rural areas and lacks the basic amenities of life. They live in one-room huts with nearly non-existent electricity; cook on primitive biomass stoves that produce tremendous indoor pollution, and lack potable water and toilet facilities.

Their lives can be improved drastically by providing livelihood opportunities and amenities for households powered by FIR.

Around 80 percent of the rural population is involved in the farming sector. At present, farming is non-remunerative and needs to be completely overhauled to make it attractive.

Thus, for increasing income for rural households, I foresee the use of high-tech precision farming which could either be land-based or container-based. In container farming, all the inputs of farming are applied in an efficient way in enclosed shipping containers.

This container-based farming, as opposed to land-based farming, can grow any food (grain, vegetables or fruits) or fodder with the use of precise levels of light, temperature, humidity and nutrients. All these inputs are controlled by smart sensors and computers. This type of farming requires very few labourers, very little soil and water and is based on the principle of hydroponics or aeroponics.

There are claims by the practitioners of container agriculture that it uses 90 percent less water than conventional agriculture and produces several times the yields that would have been obtained from land-based agriculture. Such high-tech farms are coming up in urban areas in western countries and provide a model to be emulated in developing countries like India.

Today the biggest crisis in farming in India is the lack of labour, low prices of produce, shortage of water and very poor soils. With precision land-based or container agriculture, powered by solar energy and other renewable energy systems, farming can become very efficient, high yielding and hence remunerative. To my mind, this is the future of farming.

Land-based agriculture can be used for planting mostly perennial crops like grasses for fodder and trees for fruits, timber and the like. Grasses and trees can bind the soil and stop its erosion.

Agricultural containers would eventually be owned by restaurant owners. Hence, the A-Z of food production and utilisation would be run and owned by the restaurants and may give rise to a large number of rural and urban restaurants. This will also generate huge employment opportunities.

Further, FIR based on 3D or additive manufacturing will also usher in a revolution in its own right. In 3D printing, parts or the product is built layer by layer at any place. The designing can be done anywhere in the world and it can be sent by the internet to a 3D printer.

Thus the raw material — metal powders in the case of production of metal parts, or plastic wires for plastic products — together with a suitable glue or solidification of raw material, forms the end product. 3D printing is being used to produce parts of rockets, whole machines and even body parts.

The technology of 3D manufacturing is rapidly progressing and is already becoming a mainstream technology for small, specialised manufacturing facilities.

Use of 3D manufacturing will also reduce the energy consumption in transportation of goods since they will be manufactured and made available wherever they are needed.

In most cases, prices would come down. We might, therefore, see a proliferation of high-tech small scale manufacturing facilities in rural areas. For rural mobility electric vehicles can form the backbone and could be charged with locally produced renewable electricity. And 3D manufacturing may help in the production of such vehicles in rural areas.

The FIR can usher in a decentralised and democratic society since the control of the means of production and usage will be in the hands of locals.(IANS)

(24.02.2016 – Anil K. Rajvanshi is director of Nimbkar Agricultural Research Institute in Phaltan, Maharashtra. The views expressed are personal. He can be contacted at anilrajvanshi@gmail.com)

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Reasons Why India Has Become a Call Center Hub

Experts are expecting the industry to grow considerably in the coming years on account of a steady influx of foreign investors

India is one of the largest call centre hubs in the world. Pixabay
India is one of the largest call centre hubs in the world. Pixabay
  • India has become a call center hub
  • In past few years, the industry has seen a drastic growth
  • There are several reasons which are making this industry flourish in India at such a fast pace

For over a decade, the call center industry in India has reached at least US$710 million in revenue. Experts are expecting the industry to grow considerably in the coming years on account of a steady influx of foreign investors.

At present, there are a lot of call centers in India and nearly every multinational company has outsourced their customer service to the country. Call centers, after all, can help in terms providing better customer outreach and flexibility according to www.ameridial.com. More so, it has become essential for companies to set up call centers in India as a means to lessen costs and, more importantly, achieve better growth.

UP Investor Summit saw the launch of app e-Saathi.
This upsurge in the industry is providing many people with jobs. Pixabay

Indeed, it’s not so hard to think about the reasons why India has been preferred as a call center hub by a lot of foreign corporations. For a fact, these reasons are too obvious to begin with.

Government support

Ever since it lifted obstacles that have gotten in the way, the Indian government was able to prioritize the growth of the call center industry as an important economic driver, and it has continued to do so today. With such a strong backing from policymakers, the business process outsourcing environment in the country continues to prosper.

 A competitive workforce

The first thing that’s on this list is the Indian workforce itself. A lot of companies are looking towards India not because it’s cheaper to set up a CRM arm there. It’s the Indian employees themselves that encourage companies to invest. What with a great wealth of skilled and professional workers, India is a powerhouse when it comes right down to supplying qualified individuals to the job of engaging clients from overseas.

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From text to graphics, this software does it all. Pixabay
A competitive workforce is another reason for the upsurge of call centre industry in India. Pixabay

English proficiencies

But aside from the abilities of Indian workers along the lines of customer service, it is their capacity to speak English is what drives companies from Canada and the United States to expand their operations across the subcontinent. Language, after all, is an important factor of effective CRM, and with an Indian workforce, companies can get a competitive edge.

 An effective training environment

One reason why Indian call center workers are valuable is that they are constantly trained. Nothing else can provide better results than a worker who has just updating his skills through re-training. For foreign investors, this has been one of the most notable reasons  they prefer to establish a foothold in India.

Investments in IT

Apart from being a call center hub, India has also been regarded as one of the world’s most important tech hubs, standing side by side with Silicon Valley. Recent forays into the IT industry has introduced several innovations that have also impacted other industries as well. Call centers are not exempted from these disruptions since they are currently reaping the benefits of updated technologies and infrastructure.

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Cloud networking is also a great way of lessening the work burden. Pizabay
Investment in IT and Infrastructure is increasing the number of call centers in India. Pixabay

There are still a lot of reasons that can very well define the successes of the Indian call center industry. What’s important is that the industry enjoys a large share of the global call center pie, providing employment and driving growth for the years to come.