Four Major Paradigm Shifts in India

A paradigm shift occurs when there is a total change from the usual way of thinking or doing. It represents not just cosmetic changes but fundamental changes to any society. Through this article, we will discuss four such paradigm shifts that have happened in India, in the past four decades.


The concept of a paradigm shift was first identified y the American physicist and philosopher, Thomas Kuhn. According to him, a paradigm shift "is a fundamental change in the basic concepts and experimental aspects of a scientific discipline.". In the later years, experts started to expand this concept to mean "an important change that happens when the usual way of thinking about or doing something is replaced by a new and different way. ". This is the new concept as quoted from Google references to the topic.

Now, let us turn our attention to what is happening in our country. The first major paradigm shift happened during the early 1990s. In fact, in 1991, when the concept of globalization was first talked about and the economic reforms were ushered in. This resulted in tumultuous changes to our economic landscape.

The second and equally powerful paradigm shift happened during the computers and Information Technology replaced the very way we thought about organizational processes and the employment boom that came about through the IT sector and the IT-enabled BPO organizations. This paradigm shift also includes the patterns of computer usage in Indian homes.

The third paradigm shift is now an ongoing one. It relates to what is called inclusive growth. The past three decades has not only seen an increase in the number of graduates and post-graduates and even doctorates, but this huge and increasing tribe is made of all castes and communities. In the urban areas and metro cities, the practices are totally changing and increasing socialization has encouraged not only inter-caste marriages but also inter-religion practices. This trend will continue and will completely bring about one phase of inclusive growth.

The fourth paradigm shift concerns the breakdown of the traditional roles of the villages and the cities and their people. While farming is even now the preserve of the big village population, the paradigm shift has already occurred: the farmer wants to educate his own son or daughter and most of them even go abroad. This fundamental mind-shift does have so many economic and social consequences and may alter the rural-urban roles, more so, when the IT and internet penetration is increasing day after day, even in the remote villages. The service sector employment, for example, is shifting from traditional agro-based services and sales to sales and service of cell phones and even new occupations like the grooming businesses, even in villages with a population of just eighty thousand or less. This thinking and behaving patterns of the rural youth is another paradigm shift from which we do not seem to be having any escape.

We will focus on a) Globalization and its effects ) Advent of the IT revolution c) Inclusive growth and growth in absolute numbers everywhere d) Changes in the rural landscape and increasing urbanization.

Globalization and its effects

This massive change has been a very big paradigm shift. Initially, when the country's foreign exchange was just enough to finance three weeks of exports, the then Prime Minister of India, Mr. P.V. Narasimha Rao, did something that was very dramatic. He not only got his learned Finance Minister and former Reserve Bank of India Governor, Dr. Manmohan Singh to bring about crucial changes in the industrial licensing policy. Foreign capital came in billions. Technology transfer happened in a torrent. Old habits were shattered overnight.

For example, every single sector of the economy, including the most vital ones, like the telecom, were thrown open to private participation. This signaled the death of the State monopoly. For example, in the cell phone and in the landline business, BSNL has been forced to come to the streets with a huge number of schemes to merely survive. It has never ever been so good for the customer. He or she is now spoilt for choice.

Another direct consequence was perfect competition everywhere. Yes, the old guards and those who made huge money during the license raj, permit raj, were all made to either change their plans and their methods of working or simply shut shop. For example, the Modi group and the SPIC group, the two heroes of the old era are now a shadow of their original self. In every business, there are new players. For example, in molded furniture, there are foreign players. In the five-star hotel segment, we do have the new players coming up every day. This will continue, as economic reforms have indeed helped in the massive GDP growth.

Foreign capital is no more a dirty word. The likes of BHEL, which is an excellent company has had to change its ways and fight for growth and even survival through innovation. Unless an organization is innovative, the organization has to just close down. Public Sector companies have to face severe competition from the private sector. Even here, only some promoters have been able to make a big impact. For example, the Anil Ambani group and the Essar group are in the dumps today. They have never leveraged their core competencies. They had gone in for reckless and unrelated diversification. They have fallen by the wayside.

The TVS group has a turnover in excess of Rs.45,000 crores with most companies raring to go. The same can be said of the Murugappa group, whose turnover now is in excess of Rs.30,000 crores. Both the groups are always made up of companies have always been companies that have never borrowed beyond a particular point.

Advent of the IT revolution

Though this is a global phenomenon, the tremendous potential of the country has been reflected in the emergence of a huge number of globally competitive companies in the IT sector, that now offers direct and indirect employment to at least four crore Indians. This also includes the very big training sector that trains the vast number of technically trained manpower needed in India and in the West. In fact, companies in the USA find that products from institutions such as the VIT University, who land in that country to do their MS in subjects such as robotics, are very much suitable in the high technology roles.

India has never had it so good. The IT sector has also enjoyed tax benefits. The companies have big bargaining power, as the importance of IT is now felt even in the Government departments. The entire PDS services that cater to the very poor, the land records, the land registration department and what have you, are all computerized. Banks are run with the most sophisticated IT infrastructure that it is now possible to do all calculations and service the customer so easily. Even new banks like the Fincare Bank are so good in IT. The consumers are benefitted so much. Even villagers use the ATM to withdraw cash.

The guys who cannot afford to study in the famous English medium colleges go in for hardware courses and set up their own shops. They are now far more intelligent and even small villages have such shops where the servicing of laptops, computers and even cell phones are very much done. This has enabled good self-employment for millions of people.

Inclusive growth and growth in absolute numbers everywhere

This is a big paradigm shift, the kind of which has perhaps not happened in any other country. Today, the so-called scheduled castes and the scheduled tribes and the backward classes have among them, the best of doctors, scientists, lawyers, philosophers, engineers, chartered accountants and even actors who do well in movies. The class barriers are zero.

This is a big paradigm shift and this has been more pronounced since 1991. This is particularly true of one State and that is Tamil Nadu. The credit for this paradigm shift should go to two Chief Ministers, who welcomed the growth of private engineering colleges. Yes, only the fittest have survived. But social change has benefitted the entire country. The entire State of Tamil Nadu and its colleges in the nook and corner from even places like Srivilliputhur that is in the extreme end of the country have had campus recruitment of a very tall order. The growth of deemed Universities has also added to the supply of high-quality manpower.

Well, this has happened even in Karnataka and in Andhra Pradesh too. Of late, it has happened in Kerala too. A big chunk of the manpower is also finding jobs in the Gulf. This is another good thing. This is exactly the kind of inclusive growth that will benefit the entire country as a whole. It is a big paradigm shift.

More importantly, it has effectively broken down caste barriers in the cities. The people now mix with one another like never before. The caste tensions are all gone. These trends are part of this paradigm shift as well.

Changes in the rural landscape and increasing urbanization

This change has gone hand in hand with the decline in agricultural production. The massive influence of mass media and now social media in the most remote villages are now having a very big impact on youth. There is no one to work on agricultural farms. The education of so many people is forcing them to migrate to the cities.

In fact, the migration of the people from the North of India to work everywhere in the most prosperous South India is not restricted to the service sector. It is now inclusive of agriculture too. Though the payment is not very high, the lunch is most often free. The labor in agriculture is now demanding high wages. Though there is no Government legislation, the lack of manpower will force employers to pay more. The landlords are now desperate. They want manpower even at higher wages. This is a big shift.

The more important paradigm shift is also concerned with the fact that there are new businesses in the villages like the sweet shops, the cell phone sales and service shops, the motor mechanic shops and even the photo studios with the most advanced features. This new wave of employment itself is a big paradigm shift and there is no escaping from this too. In the next ten years, the migration of people from one region to another will gallop even faster.


The four major paradigm shifts,as explained above, will continue unabated. The IT revolution will see the emergence of robots everywhere. India has never had it so good. Alongside this development, the Government at both the State and the Central Government levels might have to act so fast to remove the inequalities that still exist between people at all levels.

That would require another paradigm shift, This will possibly happen in the next two decades.


Author: Umesh11 Mar 2019 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 6

An excellent article on the changing facades of our country in various fields with respect to time.

In fact, these changes are in consonance with the global awareness and awakening kindled by scientific and technological progress and to that extent, many countries are following the trend of these spectacular changes.

History is replete of such changes in the past in different places of the world due to changing business strategies, changing cultural aspirations and social developments.

Innovators and entrepreneurs have added to this effect considerably and many agencies including NGOs and other charitable trust and organizations are also a party in bringing these conspicuous changes.

Paradigm shifts are the necessary ingredients of progress and prosperity. It gives new dimensions to the thinking of the new generations and helps in the search for new avenues of changes and progress.

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