While talking to a media group, International Monetary Fund (IMF) First Deputy Managing Director Gita Gopinath said that Bharat will be the world’s third-largest economy by 2027-28. The fact is that Industry 4.0 will play an important role in achieving this milestone. On August 23, 2023, India created history with the successful landing of Chandrayan-3 on the South Pole of the Moon, making India to the fourth nation in the world to have successfully landed on Moon and the first country to land on the south pole of the Moon. This is neither the first nor the last achievement of India’s space programme. But the most important forte of India’s space programme is that it is efficient and cost-effective. For instance, whereas other countries have been spending hugely on their moon missions, the Chandrayaan expedition has cost merely Rs 615 crores only. In the past, India has made major strides in the field of space.
In 1993, India launched the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) for the first time. Though it was launched to place India’s remote sensing satellites in sun-synchronous orbit, it has launched 58 flights till date, of which 55 were completely successful, one partially successful and two unsuccessful. The cost of each launch varies between Rs 130 crores and Rs 200 crores, depending on its carrying capacity. But, by launching the satellite of our country and other countries, the revenue made by ISRO is much more than that. Notably, PSLV’s 37th flight had created a history by putting 104 satellites in space simultaneously in the most cost effective manner.
No doubt the success in the space programme speaks tons about India’s capabilities in space technology. The very fact is that the most developed countries of the world also launch their satellite with the help of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), because of the economy with which ISRO is able to perform the task. But apart from transporting satellites from most developed countries, ISRO has demonstrated its superiority in successfully performing the most difficult space expeditions with an unbelievable economy.
Growth in Fintech
There is yet another technological achievement of India, which has caught the attention of the world, namely, the Unified Payment Interface (UPI). Significantly, in 2022, a total of Rs 149.5 lakh crores worth of online transactions took place in the country. In these payments worth Rs 126 lakh crores were done only through UPI. A total of about 88 billion online transactions were recorded in the country last year. In the number of August 2023, online transactions have crossed 10 billion mark. According to a Price Waterhouse Cooper report, online payments could reach one billion per day by 2026-27. More importantly, India accounts for more than 40 per cent of all online transactions in the world. It is notable that payments made through UPI are almost free. None of the service providers can make a charge for facilitating payment. Recently, the Government has introduced the charge on UPI transaction of more than Rs 2000 to a wallet; however, there is no charge on any amount of transaction through UPI made to a bank account. There is no parallel of UPI in the whole world. Prior to the introduction of UPI, online transactions for all payments used to be through credit and debit cards. Prior to 2014, all credit and debit cards used to be of two international giants, Visa and Mastercard. Transactions through these cards were subject to a sizable commission, which ranged between 1 per cent to 2.5 per cent. At that time, online transactions were very limited, even the huge amount of foreign exchange used to go abroad. The introduction of UPI and Rupay card generally replacing Visa and Mastercard has not only reduced the business of these international giants but has also saved the country from the outgo of valuable foreign exchange, apart from facilitating huge number of online transactions. A new feature has been added to UPI, called UPI International, for use of UPI by international payers. Due to this, payment can be made from Indian Bank accounts to foreign banks, with the help of QR code. UPI payments were already possible in Bhutan, Nepal, Singapore, UAE and Mauritius, and now France has joined the list.
If we talk about the economy of online transaction through UPI, we come to know that budget provisions of hardly Rs 1500 crore has been made for the digital payments industry for 2023-24 under the expenditure budget of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (Meity). Looking at the quantum of transactions, this is hardly 0.0001 per cent of the same. This number speaks loud about the cost-effectiveness of our indigenous payment system and its underneath technology.
We are living in the era of Industrial Revolution 4.0. It is a matter of misfortune that India missed the bus in the first three industrial revolutions. In Industrial Revolution 1.0, production was mechanised with water and steam; we missed it due to alien rule. The Second Industrial Revolution, which introduced the use of electric-powered mechanisation, didn’t achieve much success in India due to predomination of the public sector, with no incentives for innovations. Other reasons were the lack of substantial growth in power generation in the country and the lack of agricultural research and development. Third industrial Revolution of information technology and electronics, we missed this because when the use of electronics and information technology was booming, and China was becoming the manufacturing hub for these products, in the world, the lack of innovation and the indifferent attitude of the government hindered the production of IT related products in the country. However, software companies developed in a big way in the country, and they were developing and servicing software, both for domestic as well as for international markets.
The main reason why we are marching ahead in almost all contours of IR 4.0 is the encouragement to individual initiatives and a conducive atmosphere
Today is the time of Industrial Revolution 4.0, which is associated with rapid technological development. It has artificial intelligence, drones, robotics, gene editing, and through all kinds of smart technology, production is conducted on a large scale through machine-to-machine communication and the Internet of Things. It has to be understood that even though India had lagged behind in the first three industrial revolutions, India has the promise to emerge as a major player in the world in the fourth industrial Revolution. Our youth, software engineers, digital experts, engineers, experts in various fields, all are engaged in the effort that India is positioned in the first row in the world in Industrial Revolution 4.0. India has showcased its talent to the fullest in space and payments infrastructure. The youth of India is doing remarkable and commendable work in many fields, including robotics, drones, digitalisation in medicine. Nearly one lakh start-ups with new ideas are engaged in the development and innovation of various technologies. Our experience so far shows that we can easily excel in Industrial Revolution 4.0 with our new ideas, intelligence and skills of Indian youth.
Role of 5G
Technologies like 5G are surprising the world, challenging established foreign technologies. Today is the time to give impetus to these ongoing efforts in the country. For this, promoting scientific temper in the country and encouraging innovation is necessary. The achievements so far are encouraging and there is a need to continue the current endeavours. In fact, the main reason why we are marching ahead in almost all contours of IR 4.0 is the encouragement to individual initiatives and a conducive atmosphere for the same. If we look at Indian history, we find that India’s golden period was when production was decentralised and the atmosphere was conducive for individual entrepreneurs. Today is the right moment for India, where our entrepreneurs, start-ups, scientists, and experts are ready to take the country forward.
Though, generally, there is a consensus about India’s growth trajectory with respect to components of IR 4.0, there are reservations in some quarters on the use of Artificial Intelligence, Drones and Robotics. But we must understand that India has developed capabilities in these technologies and can provide leadership in these fields. We can be a global service provider and producers of these products. Some people feel that India should concentrate only on services and should not board the manufacturing bus. But in a country with vast resources and skill sets, this is no wise suggestion. We can excel in all fields.