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Future-ready IT/Bio-economy of Northeast India: Toward Industrial Revolution 5.0

Industrial revolutions have changed the course of the economic development of mankind.


Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  4 Aug 2022 3:07 AM GMT

Dr Samiron Phukan

(Can be reached at

Industrial revolutions have changed the course of the economic development of mankind. Starting from the first industrial revolution in the 1780s till the current industrial revolution 4.0, humanity has seen a dramatic evolution of technological development leading to high-impact economic development. The current industrial revolution 4.0 is being powered by the Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud computing for the provision of a real-time interface between the virtual and physical worlds. This had created a huge impact on how industries are using technology to yield better efficiency and growth via the interconnection of machines and systems for optimal performance and productivity. However, it was observed and felt that mere digitizing the process is not enough to meet the desired objective of various businesses. The finest and most successful business can and will arise from the combination of technological power and human cognitive skills.

In this context, many industry pioneers and technology leaders are looking ahead to the fifth Industrial Revolution (Industrial Revolution 5.0 or IR 5.0). IR 5.0 has arrived well ahead of the world's estimated time. IR 5.0 involves leveraging the collaboration between increasingly powerful and accurate machinery and the unique creative potential of the human being. This will be achieved by keeping a major factor in mind –"Sustainability"– which aims to move towards a more sustainable, resilient, and human-centric industry. In addition to becoming a game changer for many industries, IR5.0 will see the sunrise of many sectors and sub-sectors. In pharma, especially chemicals, robotics, industrial automation, utilities, and engineering the arrival of Industry 5.0 will make a huge impact. The outcome of this revolution will not only be experienced by industries and businesses but also by the entire society and its people. This will result in the development of an entirely new version of lifestyle and working culture, bringing forth the best blend of man's cognitive ability and the ease of automation. Human-robot co-working and Bio-economy are the two visions which are emerging for I.R 5.0. The market scale of the bio-industry is expected to grow for the coming five years with a 7.0% annual average growth at a global level.

Several countries, including the European Union, have started preparing and implementing policies to enable IR5.0.49 countries around the world have formulated strategic policies related to the development of the bio-economy. The Government of Japan is increasing the expenditures for R&D in the field of healthcare along with the U.S., the U.K., Germany, and others. For example, Germany has established a National Research Strategy Bio-economy 2030 with five priority fields of action: global food security, sustainable agricultural production, healthy and safe foods, the industrial application of renewable resources, and the development of biomass-based energy carriers. This will ultimately usher in the bio-economy of the country.

By 2025, the Indian bio-economy is expected to be worth $ 100-150 billion, with multi-sectoral and multi-decadal impact led by IT/Biotechnology. This disruptive move would be beneficial for Bio-economy-driven economic growth. Assam and north-eastern states being the hotspot for bio-resource of the country- the need of the hour is to get prepared and plan for the upcoming IR5.0 which holds a tremendous scope for the scientific and economic development of the region. The IR 3.0 and 4.0 was capitalized mainly by the southern and western states of the country- the state of Assam had missed the bus due to obvious reasons!! The IR5.0 -where the concept and potential of bio-economy is the key- has thrown up a huge opportunity for Northeast India to move towards an economically developed state. A select segment of the IR 5.0's opportunity, if capitalized, can uplift the state's economy by IT/Biotech-driven economic growth.

Intelligent healthcare, Biodiversity conservation, Biofuels and Biofertilizers, Electronics and IT, Education, Disaster Management, and Industrial biotechnology are some of the areas where Assam and north-eastern states can capitalize to gain from IR5.0.

Biofuels, enzymes, antibiotics, vitamins, and amino acids are some products, for applications such as medicine, human food, animal feed, detergents, and other industries - which can be capitalized for IR5.0. Moreover, biofuels from algae can be exploited as alternative fuels with a huge economic upside. Naturally growing Azola and legumes can be industrialized for use as biofertilizers-supporting organic food products and increasing rice production.

The education sector in Industry 4.0 is more technological oriented i.e., minimizing human involvement and giving priority to machines but with IR5.0 the motive is to create a synergy between autonomous machines and humans. Leveraging Augmented & Virtual Reality (AR&VR) technology for education and remote learning can go a long way toward achieving the educational uplift of the people.

With regards to disaster management and IR5.0, a qualitative study in Indonesia revealed that Industry 4.0 faces limitations for disaster recovery and management systems of the earthquake of 2018. Integrating humans along with AI and IoT can help in solving the issues related to disaster mitigation. Also, not only earthquakes but other disasters such as floods and pandemics can be efficiently managed through the collaboration of humans and intelligent machines.

Protecting our national and bio-diversity parks from poaching and encroachment by leveraging industrial drone technology, for imaging and backed up by AI on the cloud could be of government's priority. Industrial robots in the 5.0 times will assist humanity by boosting bio-support via personal tools and devices.

Today, enzymes and microorganisms are contained in many everyday items, which are also used in textiles, paper, and leather industries- including antibiotic production. It encompasses many disciplines, including biosciences, chemistry, physics, information science, and engineering sciences. With regards to intelligent health care, the most valuable techniques include online virtual OPDs for reducing patient traffic in clinics. Industry 5.0 would feature assistive AI which would extract medically relevant data from the patient, and using analytics would develop a complete health profile, and suggest the most suitable medicine and dosage. Proper planning and integration of institutes can help in the integration of the processes leading toward the economic growth of the region. Interdisciplinary work will accelerate these changes. Bioinformatics and genome research are already strongly linked.

Industry 5.0 will have human-centric AI–driven solutions. It will have an overall impact not only on the industries but also on the lifestyles and working of humans on economic, ecological, and social fronts. Assam and Northeast in general had missed the 3rd and 4th Industrial revolution. It's an opportune time to leverage the upcoming benefits of IR5.0 in an IT/Bioeconomy-driven industrial growth for the state of Assam. Assam can be a leader on this front and show the way to the whole of the country in getting the future ready for IR 5.0. IR 5.0 can be the platform for economic revivalism and a game changer for Assam and Northeast if implanted in a time-bound proactive manner.

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