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Social and political Values and Systems in India.

System of Employment in ancient and modern India

System of Employment in ancient and modern India

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love, what you do.” 

Introduction – The process of industrialization, modernization have drastically changed the traditional system pattern of occupations/employment and work culture of India. Specially 21st century led to the rapid advancement in information technology. It has completely changed the modern employment system. From community-based, it has become individual based. It has given freedom to individuals to choose any profession of their own choice/liking, without making them mature enough to know what they want. Growing aversion for traditional occupations has adversely affected employment prospects of many youth, especially unskilled/semi-skilled workers living in rural areas.

The history of the employment pattern in Indiacan be divided into –

System of Employment in ancient and medieval India

(From beginning up till 16th-17th century)

Ancient jobs came into existence, because of the most basic needs of human beings. Even today, many of ancient jobs exist still exist despite of digitisation and modernisation. Such as since beginning teaching was considered a noble profession not only in India, but across the world. Writers, accountants, doctors, artists, officers etc held high positions in the courts of kings and monarchs. Architects and builders were in great demand. The history of agriculture in India dates back to the Indus Valley Civilization era. Then there were miners, carpenters, brick-makers, hunters, butchers, massage therapists etc.

Principles behind the traditional way of Occupations – In ancient and medieval India, assignment of work was based on certain realities, principles and way of life –

  • Principle of Varna, Dharma and Karma – Principles of ‘Varna, karma and Dharma’  guided the employment pattern of India.
    • Principle of       ‘Varna’ had assigned duties to different social groups according to their natural instincts and qualities. It did fourfold division of occupations and their performers –       Brahmins, were assigned the work of learning, research and development. Action-oriented Kshatriyas were given the job of defense and maintenance of law and order in the       society; to Vaishyas, of trade and commerce; and to Shudras all kinds of service- functions. Principle of Varna had assigned duties to different groups according to people’s natural instincts and qualities.
    •  Principles of ‘Dharma’ and ‘Karma’ developed clear-cut vision of rights and duties/responsibilities of each group, considering the requirements of different occupations. The system managed well the daily necessities and day to day relation of its members. It  boosted morale of the people and promoted social equilibrium and solidarity. Principle of ‘Karma’       created the work culture. It gave stress to duty.
  • Human actions dependent on attitude and aptitude – The traditional system of occupations had maintained differentiation between various occupations, which was dependent on attitude and aptitude of people rather than on birth. Hinduism believes that the whole world of activities is a result of complex intermixing of three basic qualities of human nature – goodness (Satva, purity, peace and knowledge), Rajas/Passion (associated with comfort and action) and Tamas/dullness (with ignorance, sloth, sleep and carelessness). These qualities determined the tendencies, potentialities, limitations, traits and character of individuals and give them direction for action. It makes individuals different from each other in attitude, aptitude, physical and mental capacity, aspirations, like and dislikes, inclination and expectations.
  • System not too rigid – The system was not so rigid in matter of occupations as had been portrayed by alien rulers. The work in the sectors of agriculture or army was open to all. Members of any Varna did not exercise monopoly or authority over a particular occupation. It is an established fact of Indian History that Brahmin or even Shudras sometimes became the kings. There were times when gap between Vaishyas and Shudras became narrow or when Shudras acquired a better position in the society. Khatriyas and Shudra were accepted and revered as philosophers or spiritual teachers. Great respect had even earned by persons from humblest origin as a right. They had the all opportunity to pursue knowledge and reach up-to the top.
  • Stress on “duty, tolerance and sacrifice” – Whereas, Western cultures have grown around the idea of `rights” forming the natural foundation of human relationship, systems in India evolved around the concept of “duty, tolerance and sacrifice”. Emphasis on duty had made people or groups humble and tolerant. Sacrifice was regarded far more important than success, and renunciation was regarded as the crowning achievement.
  • Stress on ‘Self-discipline’, self-direction and ‘Self-effort’ –The system as a whole  encouraged interdependence in social matters. Each and every social group was expected to lead a self- restraint      and self-disciplined life-style  in all respect, be it in the matter of daily      routine, occupation or inter-group relationship. There was automatic de-centralization of       control systems and authority. The separation of rights and duties       combined with the principle of inter-dependence developed its own system       of checks and balances over arbitrary use of one’s authority.
  • Segmental Ranking according to relevance and contribution to society – There was no hard and fast rule of ranking of different social groups. Ranking of different occupational groups was dependent on factors like relevance, usefulness and contribution of their profession to society as a whole. Other considerations like self-discipline; sense of hygiene and cleanliness (relative purity) on the basis of climatic conditions of the region; morality; knowledge and spiritual standards; conduct and life-style usually determined their social, economic or political status in the society vis-a vis others.  Ranking system did not put different groups within a framework of hierarchical layers of social order, each fitting neatly below the other, but more or less as a series of vertical parallels.

Higher a group, greater were the self-restrictions on its conduct through rituals. Brahmins (intelligentsia) commanded respect of the whole society. They, being at highest place in the society, were put under maximum restrictions. They were supposed to lead a simple life, devoted to the spiritual and intellectual pursuits and denied accumulation of wealth.

  • Respect and honour not dependent on birth – Respect and honour was not dependent on birth. It was the deeds of a person which attracted the attention of the society. Sage Vashishta was the son of Uravshi, a prostitute, but he is highly respected allover India as the principal of the conservative school of Brahmanism. So was ‘Kshatriya’ Vishwamitra, the maker of the Gayatri Mantra, the quintessence of the Vedic Brahmanism, is recited even as of today almost in every house every day and on all auspicious occassions. Aitreya, after whom the sacramental part of Rig-Veda is named as Aitreya Brahamana, was the son from a non-Aryan wife of a Brahman sage. Vyasa of Mahabharata fame was the son of a fish-woman. Balmiki, the original author of Ramayana, was an untouchable according to present standards, but is still highly respected.
  • Disassociation between Wealth and knowledge/skills – Unlike West, there is disassociation between Wealth and knowledge/skills. The value system of India has separated wealth from status, power from authority, pursuit and achievement in knowledge from temptations of worldly comforts.
  • Stress on knowledge and duty – Whereas, in Western societies social status of a person or organization has always been associated with material success or control of power, authority. In India, status of a person is determined on the basis of its knowledge, purity, discipline and moral standards.
  • Division of labour – Traditional way of occupation believed in the principle of division of labour. All functions needed for the maintenance and growth of the society were divided into different occupations. On the basis of natural endowments, intelligence, aptitudes, attitudes, skills, personal needs and other innate characteristics, each group was assigned a distinct function to perform. Thus the system gave job-satisfaction to almost all individuals except for a few and managed smoothly daily necessities and day to day relation of its members.
  • Automatic system of checks and balances – Indian system of division of labour based on the principle of Varna, Dharma and Karma had developed such systems, that kept control over arbitrary use of any social/local group over others. Separation of rights and duties combined with the principle of inter dependence provided its own system of checks and balances over arbitrary use of one’s authority. There was an automatic decentralization of authority.
    • Each occupational group or caste had an independent entity, having its own hierarchy, based either on a tribal identity or an occupational identity. developed understanding amongst people for their liberties, limits and responsibilities.
    • The plurality of society provided automatic checks and balances and controlled the arbitrariness or unbalanced growth of power of any group.  Indian peasantry in UP, Bihar and MP were armed.  In fact, non-Kshatriya peasant provided leadership of most armed bands, which were numerically predominant and economically and politically strong at the village level.  The monopoly of powerful peasant was a reality of the rural life of Medieval India. The Brahmin strongholds were the centers of learning.  The floating population, consisting groups like Gujjars, Bhattis, Rajput rangers, who remained outside caste system, were so strong, that they terrorized settled agriculturists for centuries.  Forests, which competed with arable land in size and importance, till the 18th century, gave shelter and food to large sections of society and served as havens for those in search of escape from society.
  • Not much disparity – Categorization of people as backwards, forwards or weaker sections was almost non-existent at that time. The system was so conceived by the genius sages and ‘Munies’ (intelligentsia of ancient India) that there was hardly any room for any Varna to consider itself, as being placed in greater or lesser disadvantageous position with reference to another.
    Segmental ranking of different groups was done according to relevance and contribution of their occupations to society. Social status of different occupational groups was dependent on their relative self-discipline (relative purity), morality, knowledge and spiritual standards. Considerations of self-discipline, hygiene and cleanliness on the basis of climatic conditions of the region were given importance.
  • No confusion, bitterness, rivalry or frustration on matter of work – There was no confusion, unhealthy rivalry or frustration on matter of work, because everybody had his traditional occupation. It avoided rivalry or bitterness for pelf, power or position amongst different sections of society.

In ancient India, illiterate masses got the benefit of researches and knowledge of intelligentsia – learned sages and Munies. On the basis of their scholarly researches and experiences, the sages prescribed certain guidelines in the form of rituals to for the benefit of common men and keeping order in the society. In modern societies, this job is done by the national governments by enacting laws and forcing people to follow them.

  • Downward filtration of culture – It made downward filtration of culture, sophisticated language and knowledge possible. In modern society, everybody lives in one’s own world, hardly having any interaction with others. There are watertight compartments between different groups living in an area.
  • Principle of ‘Work is worship’ – All occupations were regarded worth pursuing. Principle of Dharma inspired people to do their jobs well, as all worldly honour and spiritual happiness were vested there. It assured the people that proper performance of one’s work, whether high or humble, whether of a priest, warrior, Shudra or yogi were equally important for the society and were, therefore, right, respectable and worth pursuing. It brought worldly honour and spiritual happiness for individuals and provided the whole society a quality of life.

Occupational pattern of India had filled the community with a sense of duty and trained them in      obedience.

  • Sense of duty stopped those in power to exercise coercion      against its working class.
    • Also it prevented resentment amongst masses.
    • It      helped Indians to adjust themselves, without much difficulty, to most      drastic changes in the past.
    • The systems stopped people from taking law in      their own hands. While other nations passed through many bloody      revolutions, India kept on adapting itself to changing times. In ancient      Greece, Rome or other European countries, people were made to work under the threat of a whip.
  • “Adharma”, “Alasya” and “Agyan” responsible for unemployment – Instead of blaming others for unemployment, “Adharma” (immoral behavior), “Alasya” (laziness) and “Agyan” (ignorance) were held responsible for unemployment and for all evils like exploitation, poverty, miseries and helplessness of the people that follow unemployment automatically.

These principles together had helped India to have more production, economic efficiency and specialization in various areas of activities. It had led to accomplish skill in different areas, specialization, success and happiness, decentralized authority and resources, made management within each unit effective and organized human and social behaviour in tune with the objectives of the society.

Salient features of traditional pattern of Employment – The traditional occupational pattern of India is unique in many way. Like –

  • Employment, dignity and honour for all – Traditional/hereditary occupational pattern had provided employment, dignity and honour to all. Each individual and every group served the community in one way or the other and was, therefore, satisfied. All the social groups lived the life of dignity and honour with the feeling that they, too, were contributing something to the society. All castes including untouchables were assigned important social duties. There was no dearth of employment opportunities for persons willing to work.
  • No monopoly over any profession– Members of any  caste group did not exercise monopoly over a profession. It is an established fact of Indian History that Brahmin or even Shudras sometimes became the kings. Khatriyas and Shudra were accepted and revered as philosophers or spiritual teachers.

HT Colebrooke, one of the early Sanskrit Scholars says, “It may be received as a general maxim that occupation appointed for each tribe is entitled merely to a preference. Every profession, with few exceptions, was open to every description of persons and the discouragement arising from religious prejudices is not greater than what exists in Great Britain from the effects of Municipal and Corporate laws.” (Quoted from ‘Indian Express’, dated 18.9.90, p 8).

In England and other European nations, it was not uncommon for a clergyman, a lawyer or soldier to educate and train his sons for his own profession. The association of merchants or craftsmen, who followed the same profession came to be known as Guilds. These guilds were generally found there in medieval period. The reason why these guilds were formed was to maintain standards, to sell any product for a fair price and to protect the interests of associate members. (https://brainly .in)

  • Local character – The whole of society living in a local area had control over its natural resources. All local groups, whether high or low, living in an area mutually depended and supported for fulfilling different kind of needs and cared for each other. Local character and semi-autonomous nature of the system made close interaction and cooperation between different groups a reality.
  • Combination of inter-dependence and self-reliance – Inter-dependence in social life and self-reliance in personal life were the intrinsic features of ancient system making each local area self-sufficient. Interdependence of different groups made it possible to have close contact amongst the people living in a local area. People whether living in a village or city, were bound together by economic and social ties and had a strong bond of mutual dependence.

Not a single group could claim to be self-sufficient, capable to survive alone and fulfil all needs of its people. Still people enjoyed a large measure of freedom in respect of their personal matters. The system as a whole was capable to fulfil all the needs of its people. There was not much disparity between different occupational groups or between urban and rural people in ancient India.

  • Developed a common bond– The system developed a common bond underlying their activities and minds. There was closeness and cooperation within each and every group, engaged in their own occupation due to common callings, common problems, and common solutions. The whole system together provided the society a quality of life.
  • More convenient and economical – According to “Smritis” the qualities and deeds of an individuals fitted them into a particular group of occupation, not birth. Later on, upbringing, atmosphere and convenience tended to make these occupational groups hereditary. People found it more economical and convenient to practice one’s own traditional occupation. Gradually different hereditary occupational groups emerged in the society.
    • Specialization – System as a whole evolved an atmosphere, where a high level of specialization and wisdom in different areas of activities could be achieved. Being constantly in contact with the family occupation, it was natural for the people to learn maximum about their traditional occupations. The system as a whole had led the society to have more production, economic efficiency and specialization in various areas of activities like spinning, weaving, pottery making, bead making, seal making, terra-cotta, handicrafts, brick-laying, metal work etc.
    • Natural training without investment -The practice of joining the traditional occupation led the people to learn basic qualifications and tricks of the trade within their families itself without investment. Skills, knowledge, intelligence, abilities, and professional experiences and expertise were passed on from one generation to another. Children, while growing up, learnt about hidden intricacies/skills of their profession and solutions of its occupational problems, informally from their elders, with every breath in a natural way. They learnt the skills of the job under the guidance of ‘elders’, while growing up. The system as a whole increased the confidence of the employees and saved them from confusion or unhealthy competition.
    • Spawning bed for professional skills – The system served as a spawning bed for inculcating skills in employees for different types of occupations. The practice of joining traditional occupations had transferred and developed skills and knowledge (technical as well as occupational) and experiences of those, who were already working in that specific area. It was through practice, and experiences; not through formal classroom lectures, which often kills originality and verve of people. By its very nature, it encouraged the development and preservation of local skills. There was a tendency to bring in the most diversified skills to high level of excellence. By its very nature, it encouraged the development and preservation of local skills. There was a tendency to bring in the most diversified skills to high level of excellence.
    • Reservoir of natural leaders – Don Martindale said that India possessed a reservoir of natural leaders, Brahman naturally trained in literary skills, Kshatriyas in art of leadership and different service groups in skills. It has been seen that a Marwari, traditionally belonging to business community, invests his money in share market with more ease and confidence than a graduate from other communities possessing a degree in business management. It was with their sincere efforts that the nation entered into modern era without any cultural break.
  • Job-satisfaction – Hindu philosophy says  “In life, only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe”.  The ancient system of employment gave job-satisfaction to almost all individuals except for a few and managed smoothly daily necessities and day to day relation of its members. All castes including untouchables were assigned important social duties, which gave them a sense of belonging and made them indispensable part of the whole society.
  • Bitterness or rivalry between different occupational groups for money or power was almost missing.

The traditional system of occupation of ancient and medieval India had led the society to have more production, economic efficiency and expertise in almost all the areas and activities like spinning, weaving, pottery making, bead making, seal making, terra-cotta, handicrafts, brick-laying, metal work etc. The system worked so well that when the world was passing through the Dark Age, India was full of light. The first few centuries are recognized as the golden period of Indian history. During this period, arts, commerce, crafts, philosophy and knowledge flourished magnificently.

Many travellers visiting India, from alien lands at different points of time, confirmed that India possessed huge wealth, knowledge, and quality of life. It was a cheerful land. Each person found a niche in the social system. Its people reached a high level of intelligence having specialization in different areas.

Problems of traditional pattern of employment- Since, most of the occupations were community-based and not individual based. There was not much choice to individuals in matter of occupation in traditional system. With the passage of time, the system became too rigid. It put hurdles on the way of creative minds of some individuals, who were not allowed to pursue work of their interest. The rigidity led to heartburn and heart-burn to changes, somewhere rationally, and somewhere it happened in a jest for change.

India during Medieval Period – During medieval period India was continuously invaded by Turks, Afghans and Mughals. Earlier, they drained out the wealth of the nation to foreign lands.  But afterwards, they conquered and made India their homeland. There were times, when intolerance of Mughal rulers towards their Hindu subjects made it difficult for Hindus to preserve indigenous culture. Besides, the feudalistic attitude, extravagance and luxurious life style of Mughal rulers and those at the helm of authority, increased the disparity between the rulers and the ruled.

It has been pointed out by many sociologists that leading sociologists pointed out, there was no dearth of employment for aspiring workers.  A substantial labour market existed.  In addition to their hereditary occupation, agriculture and army were open to all sections of society.  The basic qualification for belonging to any class was mainly the possession of basic qualifications to that specific job. Such as for belonging to Kshatriya class, bravery and management skill was necessary. This class was most open to anybody irrespective of caste or creed. It has accommodated many, both indigenous or alien people.

Period of transition

(World entering from medieval era to modernity)

Modern period starts after middle ages. Early modern period starts after middle ages.  Roughly from 16th century to the late 18th century was the period of transition. It was the time when industrial revolution had  begun in Europe, though in early stages. It was the beginning Industrial Revolution, which led the world to Modernization. Historians have identified several causes for the Industrial Revolution, including: the emergence of capitalism, European imperialism, efforts to mine coal, and the effects of the Agricultural Revolution. The pace of social, economic, occupational and political changes, brought by modernization and industrialization process all-over the word were much faster than that of agricultural era. It has influenced the thinking, behaviour pattern and work-culture of all the societies.

Process of Modernization and Industrialization – The pace of social, economic, occupational and political changes, brought by modernization and industrialization process all-over the word were much faster than that of agricultural era. It has influenced the thinking, behaviour pattern and work-culture of the societies all-over the world.  

Part 1 (Early Modern Period)

Phases of Industrialization – The process of modernization began and progressed gradually mainly due to industrialization. Following have been the phases of Industrialization —

  • First phase of industrialization (discovery of steam engine) – The First Industrial Revolution used water and steam power to mechanize production. Mechanization started in England replacing agriculture by industry as the backbone of the societal economy. The exponent growth of textile industry led Britain to new inventions in transportation to transport the raw materials to the factories and manufactured goods to customers. By 1830, steam powered industrialization helped Britain to develop railways, which had facilitated manufacturers a cheap way to transport materials and finished products.

The railroad boom has created hundreds of thousands of new jobs for both railroad workers and miners. The railroad industry spawns new industries and inventions and increases the productivity of others. It, in turn, led to better technology, and increased the total volume of world trade.

In the late 18th century, and during the 19th century Industrial revolution spread to Belgium, Germany, Northern France, United States, and Japan. By and large, those countries benefited from industrialization who had the necessary components of land, labour and capital, and often government support.

With the constant growth of industrialization, demand for raw materials also grew. It also led to the emergence of the concept of capitalism and European imperialism.

  • The second phase of industrialisation (the age of science and mass production) – The Second phase of industrialization used Electricity, gas, and oil to create mass production. It started at the end of the 19th century, with massive technological advancements in the field of industries that helped the emergence of a new source of energy.  Other important points of the second industrial revolution was the development for steel demand, chemical synthesis and methods of communication such as the telegraph and the telephone.  The inventions of the automobile, and the plane in the beginning of the 20th century was done during the times of Second Industrial Revolution.
  • Third industrial revolutions (Rise of digital technology) Third industrial revolutions happened in the second half of the 20th century (around 1970). It used electronics and information technology to automate production. It brought forth the rise of electronics, telecommunications and of course computers. New technologies, have opened the doors to space expeditions, research, and biotechnology. Two major inventions, Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) and Robots helped give rise to an era of high-level automation.
  • The fourth Industrial Revolution (Era of artificial intelligence) – It is happening right now. The possibilities of billions of people connected by mobile devices, with unprecedented processing power, storage capacity, and access to knowledge, are unlimited. And these possibilities will be multiplied by emerging technology breakthroughs in fields such as artificial intelligence, robotics, the Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, 3-D printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, materials science, energy storage, and quantum computing. People are experiencing it every day. Everyone uses internet every single day. And its magnitude is yet unknown. Already, artificial intelligence is all around us, from self-driving cars and drones to virtual assistants and software that translate or invest.

Positive effects of Industrialization – The effects of industrialization included –

  • Large scale production of goods.
  • Urbanization or expansion of the cities.
  • Machines have helped people do their work more quickly. It has saved their time and labour.
  • Demand for raw material increased.
  • Productivity has been optimized,
  • Improved access of food and other items to the customers.
  • Considerable rise in the standard of living of the people.
  • Surplus products results in cheaper prices.
  • Significant population growth.

Prosperity and poverty has grown simultaneously during era of industrialization and modernization.

Adverse effects of the process of modernization and Industrialization – The trend of Industrialization and modernity has started disintegrating under its own weight. It has affected the global society adversely in some spheres. Like –

  • Mal-distribution of wealth and power has pushed the world towards many wars including the two world wars.
  • Global warming – Industrialization has contributed to negative environmental externalities, such as pollution, increased greenhouse gas emission, and global warming. The separation of capital and labour creates a disparity in incomes between laborers and those who control capital resources.
  • Creation of Super Powers – Industrial revolution originated in Europe, therefore, during initial period of industrial revolution money power was centred in Europe. It was after Second World War, that USA and USSR emerged as super powers and became financially the strongest. The collapse of USSR in 1990 as superpower, made economic dominance of USA unchallenged.
  • Internationally, the developing and underdeveloped nations are trying hard to make their place in world economy. And within a nation, sharp social and economic differences were seen between different regions, and between rural and urban areas.
  • Industrial Revolution is responsible for dividing the world into “haves” and “have-nots” countries, with many of the latter being controlled by in some the former. 

Part II

India and Britain during Cusp period

The early modern period began in the 16th century. At that point of time Mughal Empire had conquered most of the Indian sub-continent. It had become the biggest global economy and manufacturing power. The status of India and Britain at that time was –

India, before the process of Modernization beganTill the year 1577, during Mughal period Indian sub-continent was the biggest global economy and manufacturing power. As Ałex Von Tunzelmann describes, India was ” a vast, mighty and magnificent empire, brilliantly organized and culturally unified. It dominated a massive swath of the earth.  An average Indian peasant enjoyed  a relatively higher income, and lower taxation. Than his descendants ever would again. Though under Mughal rule, it’s people, Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists were allowed the freedom of conscience and custom.” And

Britain at that point of time “At the same point of time, England was an undeveloped, semi feudal realm, riven legions factionalism and barely able to feed its illiterate, diseased and stinking masses areas and worked on land, going hungry during the frequent food shortages. They were prevented from moving into industry by the protectionist rackets of guild entry fees Begging was common. Nations ten thousand vagabonds were the terror of the land. Quality of life was not good. About two third population lived at subsistence  levels.” (Ałex Von Tunzelmann, Indian Summer, the secret history of the end of Empire, P. 11-12) .

However, The process of industrialization and modernization Britain and India reversed the situation. India became an underdeveloped country under British domination, while Britain came to be known as an advanced nation.

Britain prospering the most during the cusp period  The process of industrialization had benefitted England, the most. It increased its economic and political power. The first Industrial Revolution began in England, and many technological innovations during this period happened in Britain. By 1750, Britain had developed industrialization of its textile industry. By the mid-18th century Britain was the world’s leading commercial nation. Britain first came to trade and not to conquer india. The Anglo-Indian trade was monopolized by the East India Company. The prosperity of Britain due to its industrial growth had led  it towards colonization of India and other lands, eventually building a worldwide British Empire.

The factors, which helped Britain – The factors, which helped Britain in increasing its prosperity along with its political and economic power were –

  • Though it took part in many wars during the 1700s, but none of them took place on British soil,
  • Political stability – By 1750 Parliament’s power far exceeded that of the king, and its members passed laws that protected business and helped expansion.
  • Its citizens did not seriously question the government’s authority.
  • Took initiative to do a series of inventions built on the principles of mass production, mechanization, and interchangeable parts.
  • Built up the economic practices and structures necessary for economic expansion,
  • Banks were well established, and they provided loans for businessmen to invest in new machinery and expand their operations.
  • Encouraged experienced persons having experience with trading and manufacturing goods.
  • By 1914, two great canals shortened sea journeys by thousands of miles. The Suez Canal built by the British and French in the 1850s linking the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea, and Panama Canal (completed in 1913). It encouraged trade and transportation between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. With the beginning of sea travel, journeys that had once taken months or years reduced to days or weeks.

The benefits and power, England got from its Industrial growth led it towards colonization of other lands, eventually building a worldwide British Empire.

Factors that pushed India backwards India lagged much behind the European powers for almost 200 years after the process of modernization and industrialization began there. The progress remained very slow as far as modernization and industrialization during the first two phases of industrial revolution, the first one, which revolutionized agriculture and textile production and the second one, when science was fused with technology – 

  • India was under British domination. The policies followed by the British rulers in India was not favourable to the interest of the country.
  • British imperial rule tried to undermine every pillar of old agricultural societies. It changed the traditional job-pattern and work culture tremendously. In agricultural societies, economics, employment and work culture revolved around long lasting structures.
  • Initially the changes, brought in by industrial revolution, were opposed strongly by forces of feudal agrarianism, landed gentry, traditionalist, superstations and social reformers/cultural elite.
  • Exploitative policies of British rulers –  
    • The colonial rule destroyed textile and handicrafts industries through their policies.
    • Flooded the market with machine made goods cheaper than hand-made products.
    • Indian farmers were forced to produce cotton plantation so that it can fuel English factories. It primarily remained producing country which ultimately retarded the industrial development of the country in its early period.
    • Britain policy of ‘divide and rule’ to perpetuate its rule, led to inter-caste/inter communal rivalries, inter group conflicts, which has done irreparable damage to India.

India under British dominationDuring first two industrial revolutions and initial period of modernization India was under British domination. The progress of Industrial development in India remained was very slow for about 200 years, when India was under  British rule. India remained to produce low technology, low productivity, low wage and low profit items. As against this, Britain, along with other European nations, was producing high technology, high productivity, high wage and high profit commodities.  It left India economically far behind the advanced nations.

Britain used India for its own advantage – For British rulers India was a source of raw materials for British industries and a market for its finished products. They flooded the Indian market with machine made cheap goods, Seeing the growing demand for raw material, British rulers forced Indian farmers to  grow cash crops in place of food crops and to  produce cotton plantation, which can fuel English factories. It resulted in awfully deadly famines in India.

Be it the pattern of occupations/employment or work culture, everything, started changing drastically. From community-based, it has become individual based. It has given freedom to individuals to choose any profession of one’s own choice/liking. Such a change has led to growing aversion towards the traditional occupations. And it has adversely affected employment prospects of youth, especially unskilled living in rural areas.

The first industrial undertaking was established in India only after the first railways had been constructed in 1851. The development in 1854 of the cotton textile industry in India – the first important large scale industry marks the dawn of a new industrial era in India. Throughout British rule, India mainly remained the source of raw materials for British industries and a market for its finished products. India remained to produce low technology, low productivity, low wage and low profit items. As against this, Britain, along with other European nations, was producing high technology, high productivity, high wage and high profit commodities.  It left India economically far behind the advanced nations.

Changes in the system of Occupations in Independent India – The modernization and industrialization process, especially under the guidance of British during the 19th Century changed the scene. Gradually, many traditional occupations became less paying and were regarded more hazardous and more time consuming.

White collared jobs gained importance – White collared jobs gained importance. The more, a person withdrew from physical labour, the more civilized, honored and qualified he was regarded by the modern society. It resulted in discrediting many traditional occupations and in destruction of Indian handicrafts and cottage industry.  It scattered the efforts, sense of direction and manufacturing skills of millions of artisans, craftsman, weavers etc.  A few of them joined modern occupations. The majority could neither enter the modern sector nor stick to traditional occupations considering the menial work derogatory.  They had no option, but to either join the band of agricultural laborers, industrial workers, marginal labour or increase the number of unemployed. The outcome of such a development has been the casualty of workers, first, their work style, commitment, motivation and culture afterwards. Many groups had lost their creativity, sense of achievement and pride.

Some entrepreneurs with money, education and awareness did market surveys and hijacked many traditional occupations.  Occupations like mechanization of fishing or leather industry were modernized by them and made profit oriented. Even less capital-intensive occupation, such as barber, washerman etc., have been taken up by educated middle class. Hitherto, these occupations were viewed with disdain and contempt by modern society. These have been, therefore, re-christened as saloon, laundry etc. It employed workers, largely from poor traditional workers, earlier practicing such occupations independently.

Technological development in India after IndependenceThe Pace of Technological advancement was quite slow immediately after Independence. There were many constraints at that time, like

  • Political constraints – The imperial rule of about 200 years had left behind in 1947 not a unified India, but about 560 princely states, big and small. After Independence India aimed to build up a rapidly expanding and technologically progressive economy  and move forward quickly and establish a new economic order in which common people could have better deal. It has chosen the most difficult form of government, democracy, along with the concepts of Welfare State and development Administration. Its survival is a miracle. When British left India, British PM Churchill had warned that  its public service would collapse and country would fall back rapidly ‘into the barbarism and privations of Middle Ages.’ But not only that democracy in India (poor, diverse and divided) survived, but prospered as a world’s largest democracy. Thanks to the efforts and vision of Sardar Patel, Deputy PM and First Home Minister of Independent India.
  • Disturbances – Very few nations in the world have started out with greater initial difficulties of political, economic, social and administrative character as India had to do. The partition of the nation, unification of the country, the three wars (with China  1962 and with Pakistan in 1965, and 1971), the swelling streams of nearly a crore of refugees from Bangla-Desh and from Sri Lanka, divisive forces like casteism, communalism, Naxalism, terrorism and regional separatist insurgencies etc, which base themselves on cultural and linguistic variations of the country had been posing a threat to the unity and stability of the nation as a whole.
  • Absence of enough capital or skilled personnel – Apart  from it, India faced other problems as well soon after Independence. In the absence of enough capital or skilled personnel or able management and efficiency organisation, the level of productivity has remained low, leaving little surplus for saving and capital formation.  In addition to all this, by and large, the absence of able and honest leadership and lack of efficient and clean administration are the main reasons for persistent economic backwardness.
  • Lack of infrastructural facilities – Over and above it, there has been other constraints like poor capital formation, pervasive corruption, and lack of infrastructural facilities. In the absence of proper transportation (rail and road) and communication facilities in many parts of the country, regional imbalances as industrial development could not be attained in those regions, which have huge development potentialities. There has been a wide gap between Targets and Achievements.

Initially slow pace of development – After independence, India worked mainly on mining, textile, iron and steel, and chemical sectors. Though the pace of industrial development remained slow for quite some time. But what appeared as an unattainable dream in early ‘60s, when the space program was born with establishment of ISRO, it tried its best.

After third Industrial revolution – Despite all the constraints, India has not only picked up the backlog, it has missed during first two industrial revolutions, but by the time third industrial revolution happened during 1970s, it emerged as one of the most successful in the world after third great information technology revolution. Earlier in the eyes of Western society, India was supposed to be the land of ‘mysticism, poverty and snake-charmers’. Now it is known as a nation, which plays with the “Mouse”, while present Prime Minister Modi describing its role in IT sector all-over the world.

With Liberalization, dreams appeared to come true – The dream appeared to come true, when through economic reforms in 1990’s   government in India tried to push aside its suffocating red tape of India’s quasi-socialist controlled economy and unleashed the country’s entrepreneurial spirit. By 1990, several key sectors of economy like automobiles, pharmaceuticals, construction and telecommunication have undergone a virtual revolution. Between 1999 and 2002, India started progressing,  especially its the IT industry developed at a very fast speed.

Since the early 1990s, the Indian IT industry has been growing at a phenomenal rate with several phases of growth and development over the last three decades. Digital technology, Artificial Intelligence, Cloud Computing, etc., are all common words today. Bangalore, one of the most dynamic cities in the world, also known as the Silicon Valley of Asia, is in India. Bangalore is home to multinational software companies, hundreds of start-ups, and tech companies that implement the latest technologies to deliver new products to the market. The future is here, and it’s definitely in India.

Progress during 2002 to 2012 – In the decade from 2002 to 2012, India was at the path of progress. The government was able to reach out to the people, providing communication through networks in remote areas, disaster warning systems, quick resource surveys to target ground water, save our forest cover and so on. The dreams of many Indians in the agricultural, scientific, artistic, cultural and social fields have also come true.

People’s expectations risen – People’s expectations from the government has risen. Now it desired to come out of the narrow confines of casteism and communalism and take a place in the modern economy. But soon, people’s aspirations got a set-back and the growth slowed down because of scams and corruption at the highest level of the government. A result Congress government was wiped out in the general elections of 2014 and Modi Government came in.

Under Modi government after 2014 – After 2014,under Modi government, India emerged as a strong nation and people have started dreaming about a prosperous India without poverty, an India strong in trade and commerce, an India strong in many fields of science and technology, an India with innovative industry and with health and education for all has remained just partially realized.

Present position – Demographically, India is a young nation. At present, 70% of its population is younger than 35 today. If the government in India wants to create jobs for 400-500 million illiterates and 200-250 million semi-ill-literates, that too, of their choice, it is practically impossible. For youths born and brought up in Independent and economically liberalized India, the atmosphere has become stifling.  The main reason behind it is the issue of unemployment or under-employment.

Effect of Corona infection (COVID-19) virus on employment – Right now, India, a country of 1.3 billion people, is facing one of the biggest crisis due to COVID-19 pandemic. It is likely to result in economic recession. It has induced market instability and nationwide complete or partial lockdown in India since March 25, 2020 to fight COVID-19. Since then thee has been a sharp rise in unemployment and stress on supply. Estimates of job loss showed that 80% jobs were affected in urban economy, most of which were self-employed. 54% jobs were affected in rural economy, most of which were casual employment. (June 11 2020, https:// 

Changes in matter of employment due to Political, social, and economic reasons –   Modernization and Industrialization has brought in many drastic changes in the Indian society  especially after Independence. There have been many changes in the pattern of family life, values, attitudes occupational and economic life, work-atmosphere, business culture, power equation, political environment and inter-relationship of various individuals, groups and organizations.  There had been shifts in population, ecology, and technology. Following are the changes which have been brought in by the process of industrialization and modernization –

  • Emergence of new social classes (capitalists, a working class, and the middle class)  – The erosion of traditional pattern of occupation divided Indian people created new classes in the Indian society: –
    • People, for whom work was essential for survival. (Lower class people)
  • People, who were educated and loved to work for self-advancement and prosperity (Middle class people).
  • People, who lived on other’s labour benefiting from their position in society.(Upper Class persons)
  • Developed mass-culture – Industrialization has initiated the culture of mass capital, mass production, mass-consumption, mass media and mass democracy.
  • Money the prime motivator of workforce – Industrialization shifted the attention of the people to generate more wealth. People were desperately dependent on money for their survival. Money became the prime motivator of workforce, the main tool of social control and political power. (Toffler, Power shift) The most basic struggle was over the distribution of wealth-who gets what?
  •  More freedom to individuals to select occupation of their choice – There  is no doubt that Industrialization has given more freedom to individuals to select occupation of their choice. They could feel more liberated, while living in anonymity in urban areas.
  • Dependence on machinery increased – Gradually it has increased dependence on machines. Machines are usually heavy, rigid and capital intensive. Initially work in factories  was unskilled, standardized and broken into simplest possible operations. All the workers were equally good, easily interchangeable like parts of a machine. Numerous unemployed people were always available. The workers were kept ignorant and powerless by keeping information restricted. Workers were chained to industrial discipline. Their life in the factory was tightly regimented.
  • Formal income-generating skills training programs – Industrialization along with the process of modernization had changed tremendously the system of transferring knowledge and skills of various professions, shape of job-market, opportunities for employment and work culture. Instead of learning the tricks of the trade from their elders and getting advantage of their long experiences, the people learn about income-generating skills in the educational institutions. Slowly and steadily importance of formal degrees and certificates has increased for getting employed.

There is no doubt that India’s developmental needs require to harness science and technology in order to develop a modern India. However, the present employment pattern has created some problems as well.  

Adverse effect of modernization along with industrialization on Indian society – Industrial revolution along with modernization process together has changed the power structure, values, work-culture and socio-economic-political atmosphere of the whole world, including India.

  • Too many changes overloaded the people – In the present space age, everything is moving very fast including knowledge, due to revolution in information technology. It is increasing faster than human ability to handle it. Before people could cope with too many changes in too short a time, the world has moved in for yet third major revolution of Information technology somewhere around 1970. It has again changed the whole scenario.

Too many changes too soon have overloaded people, individuals, organizations and the nation. It has led to disorientation and incapacity of human beings to guide its course. The pace of social, economic and political changes, brought in during the industrial era, was much faster than that of agricultural era. It has influenced the thinking, behaviour pattern and work-culture of the whole of Indian society.

  • Decay of village industries – Industrialization led to the decay of village industries as the competition was directly with the cheap machine goods. The British rulers discouraged local genius, cottage industries and fine arts.  It had made many traditional occupations obsolete.  The British apathy towards indigenous skills, knowledge and occupations pushed millions backward in a very subtle manner and loosened the sanctity of caste rules and caste consciousness in matters of occupation.
  • Many traditional jobs became obsolete – Initially technologies were developed for lessening the strain on human muscles and designed for illiterate labour force. Many traditional jobs became obsolete as they were considered less paying, more hazardous or time consuming. Millions found their income threatened, their ways of work obsolete, their future uncertain and their power slashed.
  • Casualty of workers first, afterwards their work style – Outcome of industrialization has been casualty of workers first, afterwards their work style, commitment, motivation and culture. Many traditional occupations were discredited. Indian handicrafts and cottage industry were destructed. Efforts, sense of direction and manufacturing skills of millions of artisans, craftsmen and weavers, many of whom were experts in their respective areas, were scattered. They lost their creativity, sense of achievement and pride.
  • Eroded authority of caste in matter of occupation ­-  Industrialization had eroded the authority of caste in matter of occupation. Many castes of rural artisans, craftsman and traditional occupations abandoned their traditional work. They either migrated to cities as industrial labour or became agriculture labour. Many new occupations emerged giving choice of occupation, accessibility to which was through modern education, knowledge of English language and loyalty to British.
  • Unemployment increased – Majority of people could neither enter into modern sector, nor could stick to their traditional occupations. Very few of them could join modern occupations. In the near absence of industrial, commercial or social service activity, most of them had no option, but either to join band of agricultural laborers, industrial workers and marginal labour for their survival or increase number of unemployed or under employed.
  • Benefited rich people – Rich and privileged class took advantage of technological knowledge and new opportunities and became richer. But the general masses became poorer and more miserable. The social and economic condition of rural people deteriorated continuously. Consumerism had increased the economic and cultural differences enormously between the elite and the masses of a society.
  • Created a materialistic world – People got sick of too much consumerism and materialism. There is Mal-distribution of wealth and power. People blame each other as well as their social, political and economic structures and their systems. Authorities deal with the problems haphazardly. As a result, there is chaos, disparity and uncertainty in almost all the nations.

Some people get so fed up with the present trend of consumerism and materialism that they wish to go back to pre-industrial culture.

  • Mal-distribution of wealth – By 1970s and 1980s, signs of crisis in industrial societies appeared. They hold industrialization responsible for gross mal-distribution of wealth between different individuals or groups or nations. It has made some very rich and others very poor. Better-industrialized western nations attempted to influence or control the economy of the developing or underdeveloped nations, in order to increase their power and position in international sphere.
  • Problem of unemployment – Over the years, the number of unemployed has increased.  In 1951, the total number of unemployed was 3.3 million, and Mass unemployment or under employment is one of the major causes of deprivation and disparities in India.  Anybody, who is not gainfully employed in any productive activity, may be called unemployed. It can be of two kinds:

Ø       Voluntary unemployment.

Ø       Involuntary unemployment, when persons are able and willing to Work, but cannot find jobs.

Unemployment may be divided into following groups:

Rural –  (1)   Disguised Unemployment – People apparently seem to be employed, though enough work is not available for all. It is perennial in nature.

            (2)    Seasonal Unemployment – A large number of people engaged in agriculture remain idle for about six months in a year.

Urban – (1)   Open Unemployment- People willing to work have no work. It mainly includes uneducated and unskilled people migrating from rural areas to city and illiterate urban people.

            (2)    Underemployment- it is similar in nature to disguised unemployment.  It results, when a person contributes to production less than what he is capable of.         

            (3)    Educated Unemployment

Conclusion – 

  • Government, the biggest employer – With the adoption of modern concepts of Democracy, Welfare State and development administration has been that the government, instead of being a facilitator, has become the generator/creator of employment and the biggest employer. The government is supposed to create more employment opportunities for the people, whether job market requires employing more people or not. And still a large number of people remain unemployed.
  • Self-employed Economy – Sardar Patel had strongly advocated for self-employment economy. He told N. G. Ranga, the “so-called planning against self-employment economy would jeopardize the foundations of our democratic peasant and people’s economy”. His adversaries had portrayed Him as anti-socialist, because he was reluctant to accept Socialist plans. He made it difficult for Nehru to change economic and social structure of the country. Nehru had to wait till 1951. After Sardar, Nehru got enough time (about 14 years) to steer the ship of the nation as he wished. The result was as J.P. had pointed out, ““ the rich have become richer and the poor become poorer and unemployment had mounted. Those who have voluntarily suffered privation and spent their youth behind bars succumbed to the lure of power and a life of ease and comfort.” Some honest and sincere leaders found themselves helpless against the growing power of socialism and Planning Commission to protect self-employed economy of peasants and artisans.                     
  • Bureaucratic Red tape -J.R.D. Tata had commented, it was “economic dictatorship by the Government. It involved obtaining licenses and permits for everything. You had to go to the minister and the bureaucrats. Then, in addition, government officers were underpaid. That can only lead to corruption. There is tax evasion and corruption in getting things done.”
  • Sound system of education and training is needed urgently – In the 21st century, ‘Power’ is based on knowledge. Knowledge should be easily available to common-men/citizens in almost all the fields. In comparison to knowledge, land, cheap labour, raw material and capital – all these conventional forms of production are increasingly becoming less important.
  • Sufficient arrangement for proper education and training for all – In the present space age, everything is moving fast including knowledge, due to revolution in information technology. It is increasing faster than human ability to handle it. There are changes in the strategy, structure and management techniques. To keep pace with present time, it is necessary for the government to make enough arrangements to give  required education and income-generating skill training to all according to their attitude and aptitude, so that they can survive and live honourably in the real world.
  • India needs low-tech income generating skill-training institutes in large number –  Rush for higher education and degrees have failed to give to the modern youth suitable jobs, and to make modern Indian youth employable. More than increasing the number of colleges and universities, the nation needs more and more income-generating low- tech-training institutes. Low-tech manufacturing skill-training would make a large number of youth employable. It does not require high levels of education. This is the way other nations like China, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea have progressed.
  • Demographically, India is a young nation – 70% of its population is younger than 35 today. If the government in India wants to give jobs to 400-500 million illiterates and 200-250 million semi-ill-literates, that too, of their choice, it is practically impossible. For youths born and brought up in Independent and economically liberalized India, the atmosphere has become stifling. One of the  main reason behind the issue of unemployment is that with the rise in education and household income , aspiration levels of educated youth have also risen. They may no longer be willing to join labour force or workforce requiring low skills and low enumeration.
  • Rising expectations of people – People’s rising expectations coupled with failure of political parties to deal with rising unemployment. With higher literacy rate, educated youths dream big and get disenchanted when faced with either no job or menial ones.
  • New Education Policy 2020 Modi government has announced a New Education Policy 2020 which is expected to bring about several major reforms in education and training system of India in India. PM Modi said that this reform would transform the lives of millions of Indians and make them employable. Among the major reforms, the 10+2 structure in the schooling system has been replaced by a 5+3+3+4 structure.

The present is passing through an exceptional time of human history, when the world is leaving behind the industrial era and is ushering into a super-symbolic electronic era based on extra-intelligent networks. People needs to equip themselves through sound system of education and training to gain true knowledge, income generating skills according to their attitude and aptitude and cope with the changes.

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