🏙️ Industrialisation (1760 to 1840): History and Tracing the Spread 

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History and Spread of Industrialisation

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Industrialisation in Simple Terms– Means when a society whose economy majorly depends on agriculture and manual labour shifts to an industry-based economy.

Industrialisation is an essential portion of the history syllabus for UPSC, Banking, Management and Defence exams. UPSC Preliminary and UPSC Mains Exams often contain questions related to the Industrial Revolution in Great Britain and other impacted countries.

🏙️ What is Industrialisation?

Often known as the Age of Machines or Industrial Era, the answer to the question ‘What is Industrialisation’ lies in the question itself. Industrialisation is when several countries shifted their dependency from human-based labour to machines and industries. 

The 18th century marked the beginning of Industrialisation in Great Britain. There are several reasons that can explain this shift however the main reasons are:

  1. Capitalism and capitalist policies. 
  2. To be able to use its extremely beneficial geographical factors, Britain adopting machinery and industries was inevitable. 
  3. The end of feudalism in Britain led to labour shortages.
  4. An increase in population meant the need to push for food production, this was made possible with the help of cottage industries in the initial stage of Industrialisation.  
  5. British Colonialism expansion and international trade in the 17th century.
  6. Technological and scientific advances

There were a lot of other factors in general that added to the rapid change of agrarian societies into industrial ones. 

Must Read: English Industrial Revolution: Causes and Impact on Society

📌 Origin of Industrialisation

As mentioned earlier, Industrialisation first took place in Great Britain during the 18th century. The major reasons were the increase in population, the shift to mechanised agriculture machinery, colonialism, urbanisation of cities and capitalism etc. Factories, powered by coal-driven machinery, reshaped the workforce, leading to changes in family dynamics as men left home for work. This also marked the birth of industrialization, with work and society undergoing significant shifts.

📈 4 Waves of Industrial Revolution

Many people mistake ‘Industrial Revolution’ as a one-time transition, however, till date majorly 4 Industrial Revolutions have taken place-

  1. Year: 1765

First Industrial Revolution: Transition from agriculture to industry 

Explanation: Mechanization and manufacturing, the discovery of coal, the development of the steam engine, and new production methods marked this era.

  1. Year: 1870

Second Industrial Revolution: Emergence of electricity, gas, and oil

Explanation: Introduction of electricity and new fuel sources, along with combustion engine inventions, leading to steel and chemical products, telegraph, telephone, and significant advancements in transportation and mass production.

  1. Year: 1969

Third Industrial Revolution: Integration of electronics and nuclear energy

Explanation: The rise of nuclear power and electronics, significant in Europe and later Asia, impacted various industries and technologies.

  1. Year: 2000

Fourth Industrial Revolution: Internet and renewable-energy

Explanation: The shift towards renewable energy sources (solar, wind, geothermal) combined with the acceleration of digital technology. 

📌Industrialisation & its Impact on Society

The Industrial Revolution had different and varying degrees of impact on various societies. Let’s discuss some of the most common and significant ones-

  1. Mass production of commercial products.
  2. Expansion of manufacturing, transportation, communication and information-related industries.
  3.  Production capacity increased with the growth of industries.
  4. Increase in demand for skill-based workers. 
  5. People started moving to cities in hopes of finding jobs and adapting to the city lifestyle. 
  6. Individuals started pushing for ‘individual growth and financial well-being’ which led many countries to become capitalist economies.
  7. Many people also lost their jobs due to dependency now shifting from manual labour to machinery. 
  8. Massive changes in social and gender-based roles.

🌎 What Countries were Impacted the Most by the Industrial Revolution?

After the commencement of Industrialisation in Great Britain the same suit was gradually followed by other countries as well. However, the countries that were impacted the most by the Industrial Revolution in its initial stages were: Belgium, Germany, Northern France, the United States, and Japan. Let’s talk in brief about how each of these countries was affected by Industrialisation-

  1. Belgium
  • Growth and upgrade of Textile Industry and Textile Mills.
  • Key industrial centres like Liege and Ghent underwent development and became prominent hubs of manufacturing and trade.
  1. Germany
  • Steel and Chemical production shot up in Germany which in turn contributed to its economic growth.
  • Germany’s Ruhr Valley became an industrial hotspot. 
  1. Northern France
  • Northern France, particularly around Lille and Roubaix, experienced early industrialization, primarily in textiles.
  • The rural population shifted to urban areas as textile factories expanded.
  1. United States
  • Industrialisation in the United States led to the diversification of industries which led to economic growth and development. 
  • Industrialization coincided with westward expansion, leading to economic growth.
  1. Japan
  • Japan started industrializing in the late 19th century.
  • Japan embraced Western technology and modernized its industry.
  • The Meiji Restoration was a pivotal period for Japan’s industrial growth.

🇮🇳 Industrialisation in India 

India has always been an agrarian economy i.e., people in India have been dependent on agriculture for the longest time. Even today, despite all the stages of industrialisation India has gone through, around 47% of the population is still dependent on agriculture as their main source of income. Let’s look at how India became an industry-based economy over the years-

  1. Colonial Rule
  • India followed a non-industrial model under colonial rule.
  • Belief in industrialization as a means of progress was limited.
  1. Industrialization since Independence
  • Jawaharlal Nehru saw industrialization as a key to alleviating poverty.
  • Emphasis on self-sufficiency and import substitution in heavy industry.
  • The state played a central role in planning and controlling key industries.
  1. State Control
  • The Industries (Development and Regulation) Act (IDRA) in 1951 established administrative control over industrial capacity.
  • Import Trade Control Order of 1955 imposed restrictions and high tariffs on imports.
  • Extensive nationalization of industries, including banking, power, and transportation.
  • The government regulated various aspects of business decisions.
  1. Shifts under Prime Minister Indira Gandhi
  • Focus on agriculture through subsidies, leading to the green revolution.
  • Tightening of state control over the economy, including nationalization of banks and foreign investment restrictions.
  1. Early 1980s Reforms
  • A shift of trend towards deregulation and economic reforms.
  • Measures to liberalize trade, industrial, and financial policies.
  • Accelerated GDP growth and reduced poverty.
  1. Second Major Economic Reform Program (1991):
  • Commitment to promoting a competitive and open economy.
  • Dismantling of the industrial-licensing system and opening up various sectors to the private sector.
  • Welcoming foreign investment and reducing government influence in corporate investment decisions.
  • Reduction in import licenses and tariffs, elimination of subsidies for exports, and introduction of a foreign-exchange market.
  • Transition to a more open economy, marked by a significant reduction in import tariffs and trade liberalization.
  • These changes represented a shift towards greater economic liberalization and openness, helping India’s economic growth and global integration.

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Also Read: World War 1: History and Causes | World History Notes


What is Proto-Industrialisation?

Proto-industrialization refers to the pre-industrial phase of economic development in the 18th century, characterized by rural households engaging in small-scale manufacturing alongside agriculture. It laid the groundwork for the Industrial Revolution by introducing manufacturing techniques and market-oriented production.

What was the second industrial revolution?

The Second Industrial Revolution was marked by the large-scale production and supply of electricity, gas, and oil. 

What was the first industrial revolution?

The transition from agriculture-based societies to industry-based societies is usually dubbed as the first industrial revolution. 


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