- From the beginning of Human history numerous inventions and discoveries have changed the life of human beings. Discovery of fire and invention of wheel were such that they changed the course of human history, but Industrial evolution gave a new twist to the world in every aspect.
- The term Industrial Revolution is generally used to describe the series of economic changes which took place in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and completely changed the European Society. Its important feature was that it was essentially peaceful in character and unlike other revolutions it had no definite beginning and an end. There was no brutal violence, war, execution or persecution, but just a substitution of Domestic small scale production by mass production in factories. It was and still is an on-going process in certain areas and countries of the world.
SALIENT FEATURES OF INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION
Various scientific and technological changes
- Invention of steam power
- A British engineer named Thomas Newcomen made the first steam engine but later on James Watt redesigned the steam engine so as to make it more powerful and also consuming lesser fuel. This proved to be helpful in mining industry as water power was replaced by steam power and also in many other industries such as textile and steel.
- Use of Iron and Steel
- The introduction of steam-driven machinery also made it desirable that wood machinery be replaced by machinery made of some durable material like iron and steel. Abraham Darby invented coke smelting (1709) and advanced the mass production of brass and iron goods. Coke smelting replaced charcoal with coal in metal foundries during the process of refining metals; and this was important to Britain’s future since charcoal at that time was becoming scarce and was more expensive.
- In 1855 Henry Bessemer invented the first inexpensive industrial process for the mass-production of steel from molten pig iron. Later on in 1878, Thomas and Gilchrist made a great contribution in production of steel when they solved the problem of eliminating phosphorus from iron produced by means of the Bessemer process. This helped in production of better quality steel and gave momentum to making of rails, building of ships and construction of factories and dwelling houses.
- Development of Coal Industry
- The increasing use of steam power and iron and steel necessitated the development of coal industry. Coal and Iron became the two pillars of industrialization. Because of this having good coal and iron resources Britain and Germany became favourable destinations for Industrial Revolution while France lagged behind.
- Changes in Means of Communication
- Steam boats by Robert Fulton, Railways designed by George Stephenson in 1814 were most important developments. The necessity to move in a specific direction and to procure or produce large amounts of raw material and finished goods paved the way for these changes while the necessity to be aware about demand and supply of raw material and finished goods played an important role in bringing forth communication developments like Wireless by Marconi, Telegraph by Samuel Morse, Telephone by Alexander Graham Bell etc.
- England became the epicentre of Industrial Revolution because huge amount of capital was accumulated in Britain. Enclosure Movement, an 18th century movement among the wealthy British landed aristocrats to rationalize their farms, using new farming technology and systems of crop rotation, which forced the agrarian poor off the old “village commons” that now became “enclosed” as private property. The jobless poor ended up constituting the proletariate working class in the upcoming Industrial Revolution, became helpful in supplying labour class. Due to availability and access to good resources of coal and iron, Britain emerged as an unparalleled naval power having a stable government.
- Commercialization of Agriculture
- Agriculture is complimentary to Industry so Industrial Revolution promoted commercialisation of crops through emphasis on production of cash crops like cotton, indigo, opium etc.
Spread of Industrial Revolution
- The Industrial Revolution began to spread from Britain to the European continent. After the end of Napoleon’s reign, France took a leap towards Industrial Revolution. By the middle of nineteenth century, Germany also made rapid strides towards Industrial progress. U.S.A., Germany including India started making progress in Industrial Revolution which changed the fate of these countries.
- Japan realized early that the key to the west’s superiority lay in its scientific and technological program. So, Japan invested in learning about the advances in scientific and technological fields and started competing in the Industrial sector with other rapidly industrialising nations and resultantly became one of the most industrialised nations in the world in the 20th century.
Effects of Industrial Revolution
- According to Ramsay Muir Industrial Revolution was a ‘mighty and silent upheaval ‘ bringing the ‘most momentous change’ in the conditions of human life. Even though it was mainly an economic revolution but it also brought about major political and social changes.
- Economic Effects
- Industrial Revolution made supply of quality goods at cheap rates possible.
- Industrial Revolution led to the birth of Industrial Capitalist and Finance Capitalism.
- Provided fillip to trade and commerce.
- Social Effects
- Resulted in the growth of new manufacturing and industrial centres like Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield etc.
- The rise of cities was accompanied by the growth of slums because industrialists were basically bothered about their profit but not the condition of workers.
- Led to the exploitation of women and children as they were easily manipulated by the Industrialists.
- The conditions of factory life were not conducive to healthy family life.
- Industrial revolution led to sharp divisions in social life in the form of capitalists vs. proletariates.
- Political Effects
- Led to Colonisation of Asia and Africa. Although European countries ventured out of their own territories in search of raw material to further their industrialisation process and thereby find a new market to sell industrial goods but eventually it led to the colonisation of Asian and African territories.
- Industrial revolution led to the division of countries into developed and under-developed world.
- Europeanisation of different parts of the world like America, Australia etc.
- Promotion of reform movements e.g. Chartist Movement. Chartist Movement was a working-class movement for political reform in Britain between 1838 and 1848 which took its name from the People’s Charter of 1838.
- The movement’s term “Chartism” was the umbrella name for numerous loosely coordinated local groups, often called “Working Men’s Association”, which began among skilled artisans in small shops, such as shoemakers, printers, and tailors, and handloom workers as a petition movement which tried to mobilise “moral force” but soon attracted men who advocated strikes, General strikes and physical violence. The People’s Charter called for six basic reforms to make the political system more democratic:
- A vote for every man over the age of 21;
- A secret ballot;
- No property qualification for members of Parliament;
- Payment for MPs (so poor men could serve);
- Constituencies of equal size;
- Annual elections for Parliament.
- Chartism was a continuation of the 18th century fight against corruption and for democracy in an industrial society.
Strong Trade Union Movement Paved the way for new social-economic doctrines by Mathews, Ricardo and James Mill; defended capitalist system and wanted the state to refrain from interfering in the economic and social sphere, while Robert Owen and Karl Marx etc. advocated for socialism. INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION