General Knowledge

What is Industrial Revolution? How did it started and what’s the Impact?

Industrial Revolution is the revolution in the economic processes of production of goods in the economy, aided by the technological innovations that resulted in mechanized production, increased pace in production, development of new sources of powering these machines, technological forays in the fields of communication and transport are some processes, which when clubbed together are referred to as the Industrial Revolution.

It was a revolution because it totally reformed not just the economic realm but also the social and political realms of the society.

Industrial Revolution Is Ideal For England

* The rise of capitalism after the end of feudalism was crucial for the industrial revolution.

* There was demand for manufactured goods due to the new ways of growing in the towns and cities.

* The Renaissance and the reformation with focus on the power of reason had already made a psychological impact on the people to set out in the quest for new ideas.

* There was money available for reinvestment for capital formation and for funding the activities of innovators.

* England had a natural barrier to protect it from the invasions. Unlike France and Germany, England had a natural frontier, which allowed it to enjoy a degree of peace.

* Britain had very good natural harbors which allowed it to develop sea-ports.

* England was rich in natural resources like coal and iron. It also had a very good natural network of tributaries of rivers.

The Industrial Revolution in Different Sectors

a) Giant leap in the textile industry:

The Industrial Revolution started with a revolution in the textile industry. A series of innovations occurred; they allowed the textile factories to produce a thread that was much finer and cheaper to produce.

The decreased cost of production increased the profits and soon the machines became very popular in England.

b) Steam power:

The most significant invention was the development of the steam engine by James Watt in 1769. Steam engines gave a big boost to the production of goods and consequently led to a huge increase in demand for raw materials.

Steam engines were also adopted for use in coal mines to pump out water, which in turn led to an increase in coal supply.

c) Iron production:

Another revolution was in iron production, which ultimately led to increased and cheaper mechanization of all industrial processes. The steam power had led to a demand for more machinery and England had huge deposits of iron ore and coal to make steel.

But where England lacked was in the cheaper mode of processing raw iron. This problem was resolved by the development of blast furnace which allowed for use of coke instead of charcoal.

This allowed the Britain steel industry to produce high- grade cast iron instead of just the pig iron.

d) Revolution in connectivity networks:

The development of transport corridors in the form of railroad network across the length and breadth of England and consequently in colonies of the British Empire allowed the British industry to hasten the supply of raw and finished goods.

The railroad infrastructure was complemented by the canal network building. Water transport using steam-powered ships was much cheaper than transport through the land.

e) Agriculture revolution:

It involved the production of more cash crops to meet the demands of the British industry. The new farm machinery like steel plow and harrow for breaking the ground, mechanical seed drills, horse-drawn cultivation that replaced hoe and machines for reaping and threshing reduce the labor requirement in the agriculture sector.

The new farm practices like intensive cultivation and crop rotation increased the soil fertility and ensured food security of Britain.

Impact of the Industrial Revolution

1) It led to the emergence of Britain as the top-ranking industrial economy. But the impact on the people was not very positive.

2) The urban areas now became the centers of production and were no more limited to being the center for trade and administration.

3) A downside of this process was the crowding in cities, which led to problems of housing and sanitation.

4) Migration caused social stress in the form of dissolution of social bonds and the moral restraint that the village life generally places on its inhabitants.

5) Industrialists saw the workers as a cog in the machine and as just another factor of production. The aim was to maximize profits and thus the wages of workers were paltry.

6) Child labor and participation of women in the labor force increased, as they were available at cheaper wages.

7) Environmental pollution was also on an increase.

8) It was the negative side of the capitalism of the post-Industrial Revolution era, which hastened the arrival of socialism

9) There was an increase in trade unionism and increased solidarity among the working class.

10) Industrial Revolution increased the penetration of democracy in England. The growing resentment among the workers and their consequent movements made the government conscious that Laissez Faire is not the sine qua non and the state has a responsibility to protect the vulnerable sections.

11) By 1929, Britain adopted the universal adult franchise. Trade unions were legalized in 1824 and a series of factory acts were passed like in 1802 and 1819, which brought in age and working hours restrictions and regulated the employment conditions, especially of women and children.

12) The Industrial Revolution also resulted in increased contact between industrialized and non –industrialized world.

Thus, the Industrial Revolution played an important role in the emergence of imperialism whereby the colonial powers tried to establish much stronger control of the colonies by use of military power, direct rule, and rule by intermediaries.

The Industrial Revolution in Other Parts of the World

a) France:

By 1850 the iron industry had started to develop, but the lack of raw materials in the form of coal and iron ore limited its progress.

b) Germany:

It was second only to Britain in the production of steel, after the unification of Germany, it excelled in the production of pig iron and coal.

c) Russia:

The process of industrialization was slow in Russia after the October revolution of 1917 Russia underwent a true industrial revolution.

d) USA:

After 1870 industrial production got a big boost in the USA. By world war-1 it emerged as the major supplier of finished goods to the rest of the world.

e) Japan:

It got industrialized in the late 19th century. It became a major exporter of steel machinery, metal goods, chemicals from the traditional exporter of silk, toys, and porcelain.

The system of polity and, political independence, security from invasions, the availability of labor and capital along with law and order stability were major determinants of the Industrial Revolution.

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