The 4th Industrial Revolution

It was the age of inventions. Some were brilliant and will stay with us forever. Others were also brilliant but their goodness was short-lived. Their contributions were so negative and destructive that, perforce, they have to be killed

Only one invention comes to mind that has almost killed Mother Earth! The Internal Combustion Engine! I.C.E.

There were other inventions that changed the lifestyle of people around the world. They changed the social order and economics of the world forever.

One invention that Indians will understand and appreciate is the spinning jenny. We know it as the ‘charkha’. It was Bapu’s symbol of self-reliance.

The ‘charkha’ or spinning wheel, hand-operated, was a simple device that turned wool or cotton into thread. So weaving became easier.

The spinning Jenny was mechanical and much faster than the hand operated ‘charkha’

This led to the invention of power looms. Previously, the looms were also hand-operated.

What had been cottage industries moved to factories. This was a true revolution. Mass production of fabric and creating millions of jobs.

Electricity changed everything. It is here to stay forever. There seem to be no negative aspects of electricity. Well maybe, the electric chair! The electric bulb is magic. You’ll never be able to live without it!

Actually, the true worth and value of electricity will be felt in this century. Electricity has always been, and will continue to be, mans most faithful servant. More on that in a moment.

The sewing machine was a great invention. It will never lose its importance to the housewife or for the mass production of garments.

Steam! An accidental discovery again changed the world of travel. The steam engine could pull a train loaded with goods or passengers over thousands of miles.


It catapulted India from the bullock cart age to the modern age.

We had post offices to deliver letters around the world. It worked exceptionally well. Along came the telegraph. Definitely the first step into electronic communications.

E-mail may be an arranged marriage between the two!

Progress is inevitable. Facebook, WhatsApp, and a host of other inventions followed. Social media it is being called. The debate for its usefulness is under way. It may have more minus points in its favour than plus points.

More on electricity. The steam engine was a game-changer. It’s over. Steam engines have been replaced by electric engined trains capable of 500 kmph!

At the turn of the last century, these were aircraft speeds and land speed records. Today these speeds are quite normal for passenger trains in some countries.

Electricity is the fuel of the future. And in many cases, for free. Solar-charged photovoltaic cells could replace the way we have been producing electricity.


Henry Ford gave us the Model T Ford, T for Tim. He put the world on wheels. By the mid-20s there were over fifteen million Model T Fords alone on the road.

No doubt that was an amazing achievement in that era. However, the greatest invention of the time was Assembly Line Production. It was Henry’s gift to the world of manufacturers. There can be no discussion on this subject.

Today, from paper pins to lipsticks, sanitary pads to condoms, cars, tractors, aircraft all come off the Assembly Line Production system.

Here is an example of how effective this system is.

During the Second War, the American auto companies were in overdrive. Making tanks, armoured cars, submarines, anything to help with the War being fought overseas.

The biggest and best bomber, the B-24, was in great demand. It was called the Liberator and to give you an idea how huge the aircraft was, consider this, it had a crew of eleven!

Manufacturing and fitting this behemoth together was proving to be a problem for the manufacturer. The body shell had to be fitted with the wings, tail wings and fins. Then came the hydraulics, the undercarriage, the landing gear, the armaments, four engines from Pratt and Whitney. An extremely complicated and exacting job. No mistakes allowed!

Henry took up the challenge of the assembly of this aircraft.

The assembly line was one mile long from start to finish and every 63 minutes a complete, airworthy, Liberator aircraft came to life!

So the assembly line is here to stay. No negative side effects.

Unlike the Internal Combustion Engine which is a highly endangered species. In its heyday the Internal Combustion Engine was king as far as transport was concern from a single-cylinder engine to two, four, six, or eight and even more. They were inline or in V configuration.

However, the ultimate I.C.E. was the radial engine for aircraft.

The radial engine has been recognised as one of the greatest inventions of the last century. And in two short years, the jet engine had killed it.

The auto industry is worth the U.S $2.0 trillion. This is about to change.

Britain, outlining a Ten Point U.K. Green Industrial Revolution has banned all petrol and diesel cars in the U.K. as of 2030. Manufacturers have agreed to this.

First to take a hit, the oil companies. No refueling stations, they will be replaced by recharging stations. No more service stations or roadside mechanics. Car batteries as we know them will be a thing of the past.

Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler are worth the collective U.S. $ 70 billion.


Elon Musk’s Tesla Electric Car Company alone is worth the U.S. $ 225 billion (a quarter of a trillion) Why? Electric cars!

No wonder he can put his own space capsule into space with a Tesla car strapped to the side! The idea was to prove that his car had an unlimited lifelong warranty. That is how long an electric motor will last. Mans most faithful servant to the rescue!

Musk also has a great sense of humour. In the glove box of the car was a copy of “The Lonely Planet Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy’!

So E.V.s as they are being called, Electric Vehicles will be the greatest invention of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. As will be the special batteries.

Possibly, this will be the most important and longest-lasting invention to come to the aid of a very sick Mother Earth!

H.Kishie Singh is based in Chandigarh and has been a motoring correspondent for newspapers like The Statesman, New Delhi, and The Tribune. His column ‘Good Motoring’, for The Tribune ran for over 27 years. He has been also been the contributing editor for magazines like Car & Bike, Auto Motor & Sport, and Auto India. His latest book Good Motoring was published recently and has co-authored a book with The Dalai Lama, Ruskin Bond, Khuswant Singh, and others, called The Whispering Deodars.

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