By Vivek Pattanayak in Bhubaneswar, December 6, 2017: Human civilization has always been guided by emergence of new technology, whether in the field of agriculture, or in the field of industry, or in the area of communication or in the domain of transportation. What was the world before industrial revolution? What was the world before railway system and automobiles came, and finally how distance was conquered with advent of air transport? How has the communication changed the life of human beings?

Until high yielding varieties of seeds came, India faced shortage of food. Green revolution came with ushering in of modern irrigation system, increased rice and wheat production through high yielding varieties of paddy and wheat. Taichung Native 1 and IR 8 and Sonora 64 were the names which were mentioned in the late sixties when came green revolution making India self-sufficient in food. There are now hundreds of new variants of seeds not only in paddy and wheat but also one can find them in pulses and oil seeds and also sugar cane etc. New ways of dairy farming, chilling plants and pasteurization created white revolution. There has been blue revolution with new technologies in pisciculture.

Industrial revolution brought machine. Agriculture was mechanized. Tractors, harvesters and other agricultural equipment have brought a big change to agricultural production.

With advent of electricity industrialization acquired a new dimension. Petrol and diesel pumps were replaced by electric pumps. Steam power was replaced by electric power.

Communication system was revolutionized with telegraph, then through telephone and finally by wireless. What cataclysmic change has taken place in the world with internet, mobile telephone, and satellite phone everybody knows?

In my own life time I have seen moving from magneto telephone to smartphone, from pigeon service to fax, valve radio to transistor, to black and white TV and to live colour TV, Skype, Google Talk to Whatsapp, Facebook to Linkedin, from petrol cars to electric cars.

When air transport came distance became no longer an obstacle for progress. First came dirigible and then came aircraft. From propeller driven aircraft the world moved to jet aircraft. From sub-sonic travel we went to super-sonic travel. Now there is attempt to have hyper-sonic aircraft. There is distinct possibility of sub-orbital flights. A new phenomenon is seen in the sky today, appearance of drones. From delivery of Pizza, it will soon move to carry human beings.

Air transport commenced with balloon and then through airship. Aircraft flew with aviation turbine fuel. Now solar powered aircraft has already gone round the world.

With every change of technology there was requirement of talent and skill. Some needed reskilling. In some areas new talents had to be found. The engineering courses had to be resigned. The aircraft engineers, pilots, air traffic controllers and ground support staff needed new skill.

In the aircraft manufacture technology has changed in use of metal. Aluminum and its alloys are now more in use. Silicon aluminum alloy is stronger than steel. It is machinable, weld able, cast able and forgeable. It can replace steel. It is the metal of future. I would suggest the students to read the book titled “Aluminium – A Strategic Metal” written by Dr T K Chand.

Diesel generating stations supplied power to Cuttack until Machhkund/Duduma and Hirakud brought electricity through hydro-power. Thermal power generation is now based on coal, oil and gas. The first coal based power station came at Talcher in the sixties. Attempt was made to produce power through wind energy and solar energy. Solar power was costly a few years ago. Now it is equally viable with new technologies. The power sector needed engineers to handle hydro-power, thermal power and now to handle wind power and solar power. Maintenance of machines, engines and equipment required different kind of knowledge.

Previously there was a time lag in change of technology. Transition to new technology gave time for adjustment. Now these technological changes are taking place in such a speed, it is simply mind boggling. Artificial intelligence has already arrived. Robots have taken over. Computer engineers have been out dated with arrival of new technology .Software change is taking place with such rapidity that the available skill is unable to meet the challenge.

Changes in technology have affected agricultural, industrial manufacturing and service sectors. This will affect tourism, hospitality sector, aviation sector and financial service sector.

There was a time stock exchange was operated by outcry system. Today stock trading is done through electronic means. Complex algorithms determine future stock price. Futures and options were not known fifty years ago. Traders, brokers and regulators have to learn the change in technology. Financial service changed with ATM, internet banking, and after demonetization there was surge for digitization. Even a person selling Gol Gopa is familiar with PAYTM and there are so many new applications.

At the same time cyber crime has increased. Millions of dollars are stolen. The banks and customers suffer. Even the police is sometimes unable to unearth the crime. Knowledge of technology has to permeate to law enforcing agencies.

Ola and Uber have provided new dimension to hiring of vehicles. Drivers being hired by these companies need to be trained map reading particularly using GPS.

Soon driverless cars will be seen in the world. What danger it will create to the flow of traffic needs to be studied. What safety measures should be introduced need attention. There will be need for change of rules and regulations for the sake of road safety.

Tesla has started producing electric cars. Roads need to be redesigned. One has seen with increase in traffic roads have been congested and safety compromised. Road once used by pedestrians, cyclists, bikes, bullock carts , cars, minivan and buses, trucks and lorries have become obsolete for the time .One needs new road architecture and design, perhaps new lanes and bylanes in addition to highways and expressways.

Booking reservations in railways and airlines can be done through internet. One can do it from one’s residence. One can check in from home and generate boarding passes at home. Hotels can be booked from home.

All these reflect there is need for talent and skill for meeting the demand of emerging technologies. This is needed in every sector of economy. Those who acquired skill in the eighties were outdated in the early twenty first century. Those who acquired skill in the early twenty first century have become already outdated. Those who acquire skills now will face humongous challenge in the early thirties of this century. This is the hard truth which must be realized by all. Government, academia, and industry must work together to face this ongoing challenge.

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Akshata Mohanty
An invigorating article indeed! Never before has technology moved faster than now. The acceptance of uncertainty with the ability to re-educate oneself fast, is the need of the hour. Skills-based learning and novel policies for training the workforce become important. KPMG research predicts the online education industry in India alone, to be a 2 billion market by 2021. Professionals across ages have to be coaxed out of comfort zones, with an exploratory mindset – merging new knowledge with old. The challenge lies is in the transition of human mentality which seeks permanence. But it does hold the promise of huge… Read more »