Industrial revolutions, from the first industrial
revolution of 18th century to the ongoing fourth industrial
revolution of 21st century, have changed the trajectory of
the human civilization irreversibly all the way through.
The agriculture centered dynamic economies in the west
along with their extensive international trade networks
transformed into industry driven global economic power
houses as a result of the first industrial revolution. The
heat of the industrialization process spread from the
pioneering nations to the rest of the world asymmetrically
according to their geopolitical and socio cultural factors.
The periodical spike in technological innovations and
applications, dubbed as industrial revolutions two, three
and four, ushered the global production, distribution and
consumption through an unprecedented higher ground in
Sri Lanka, then Ceylon, was under the colonial rule
either fully or partly during the first and the second
industrial revolutions. The island used to cultivate
plantation crops to meet the requirements of the
industrialized countries rather than promoting
industries. The initial manufacturing processes were
carried out on spices, coffee, tea, rubber and coconut
crops before being exported them to the industrialized
countries. Some basic industries were initiated by the
British colonial rule in Sri Lanka during the world war
two due to the global supply disruptions. A certain
industries were also promoted under the pretext of import
substitution industrialization strategy during the post-
colonial period. The promotion of the apparel industry,
the key industry in post independent Sri Lanka, along
with some other industries such as electrical, electronic
and chemical were visible in the post liberalized period
since late 1970s.
The world was experiencing industrial revolutions
three and four while Sri Lanka was enjoying the political
freedom after the Second World War. The country was
not considerably influenced by these two industrial
revolutions or the previous two industrial revolutions.
The objectives of this study are to examine the factors
affected the industrialization policies in the country and
influence received by the country to promote its industries
during the industrial revolutions. The secondary
information is gathered for the study while mixed method
is applied to analyze the collected information.
Findings suggest that there have not been pragmatic
industrialization policies to promote the local industries
before or after the political independence. This adverse
situation was further strengthened by lack of natural
resources, weaknesses in educational and research
policies, lack of motivation among local industrialists due
to the nonexistence of determined industrial policies, and
unnecessarily promoting of the agriculture as the main
strategy of economic development.
Keywords : Industrial revolutions, industrial policies, natural resources, motivation, and educational policies.