Science & Technology

Fourth industrial revolution: ‘4IR critical for India’

India has a well thought out ecosystem of data and a young population that can be skilled for the new technologies

By Purushottam Kaushik
Published: Thursday 19 January 2023
The role of technology is going to be significant in a country like India, which is resource crunched. Photo from iStock for representation

The Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution in India (C4IR) was established in October 2018 to focus on the role of emerging technologies across different sectors and to plug the challenges that will emanate as we go through this journey.

There are three pillars that we work on. The first is the 4IR technologies such as artificial intelligence, the internet of things, blockchain and others. The second focus is on public-private cooperation. India recently announced drone services, an area where we work with the Centre and several state governments.

The third pillar is a multi-stakeholder partnership. When we talk about the role of technology in various sectors, we have to look at all the pieces together —government, industries, start-ups, civil society, and consumers — for inclusiveness. The overall focus is to bring in greater social good by leveraging technologies.

We are working closely with several Union ministries and state governments.

We have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Telangana and Karnataka governments. We have a taskforce working with the Meghalaya government, and talks are underway with the Arunachal Pradesh government. We are also working with Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu on specific sectors, including agriculture.

The role of technology is going to be significant in a country like India, which is resource crunched. The country is fast adopting 4IR technologies, compared to many developed countries.

There have been many examples, including the way we have monitored vaccination programmes and built up the digital healthcare ecosystem. India has a well-thought-out ecosystem of data.

The Centre has developed a data ecosystem through a platform approach such as UPI (Unified Payments Interface) and Aadhaar. There are upcoming platforms as well, such as the one on logistics announced in the budget.

There are other pillars that we are still building up. One is building skills and capacity. India is well placed because of its position in the services sector. Within the skills part, India has a substantial young population and an education system capable of producing the required skill sets.

There is also the intent to make it really big in terms of scale. We are working closely to address the concerns around safety, security and biases. In our partnership with Karnataka, we have a centre on the internet of ethical things.

It is one-of-a-kind facility where we are developing ways to make technologies in various industries more ethical and responsible.

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Purushottam Kaushik is Head of the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, World Economic Forum, India

This was first published in the 1-15 September, 2022 print edition of Down To Earth

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