1. Khalid Zahid: Transforming Saudi Art
  2. Now Walk the Talk, Imran
  3. Violence against Minorities
  4. Unsheltered
  5. Lumbering Giant with a Midget’s Mentality
  6. How to Encourage Terrorism
  7. Faisalabad in 2028
  8. Mental Illness & the Progress of a Nation
  9. Child Sexual Abuse
  10. Living amongst the clouds : Aalia Bux
  11. Mental health – What soldiers can teach us
  12. Many Cookies still to Crumble
  13. Steering Through Turbulence
  14. ExxonMobil – Close to hitting huge oil reserves in Pakistan, bigger than Kuwait’s
  15. NAYA PAKISTAN?
  16. Making ADR work for Women
  17. Women’s Rights under Family Law
  18. Shutting the Door on Refugees
  19. Water Challenges and Opportunities
  20. In Conversation with Dr. Ghulam Rasul on Hydrology
  21. In Conversation with Shafqat kakakhel: Internal Water Management Practices
  22. Come on Skipper !
  23. GUMM
  24. Annus Horibilis
  25. The Inhumanity of Pakistan’s Coal Industry
  26. Iran Nuclear Deal The U.S Withdrawal
  27. Method in the Madness
  28. Legal System Reforms
  29. Power Over Impulse
  30. Refugees and Migrants are People too
  31. PTCL – A Nonstop Journey Towards Excellence
  32. Gulgee – The Last of The Greats
  33. Patrik Hoffmann – Sonraj
  34. Pakistan’s Primordial Hindu Heritage
  35. Pakistan’s Migrant Tragedy
  36. PTCL – Fastest Growing Brand in Pakistan
  37. Keep Pakistan’s Wagon Hitched To The China Star
  38. Anique’s Chocolate Cake
  39. Selfless & Fearless – Lahore Qalandars
  40. NEWS PICKS
  41. Intellectual Property and Tourism
  42. Fitness with the Mughal
  43. REBEL WITH A CAUSE
  44. The Big Fat Lie – Cholesterol (Part-1)
  45. Mummy’s Recipes Roast Chicken & Veg
  46. ENGAGING HEADS HEARTS AND HANDS
  47. The Big Fat Lie – Cholesterol (Part-2)
  48. Q & A with Star of Parchi
  49. Addressing Sexual Abuse
  50. Q & A with EMAN ZAEEM & MEHR SAAD
  51. Pakistan’s Lost Children
  52. ENGLAND AND THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION
  53. STICK WITH FRIENDS AND DITCH THE ENEMIES
  54. The Phenomenon that Stephen Hawking was!
  55. In Conversation with ANUSHAY ZEESHAN
  56. Q & A with owner of District 6 – Anum Rafat
  57. Ali Rehman Khan – Naturally A Star
  58. MUNIBA`S Call for Tolerance & Justice
  59. Q&A Muniba Mazari
  60. Health Quotient (Dental health)
  61. Money for nothing, bits for free
  62. FinTech
  63. TRADING THREATS OF WAR
  64. Crisis of Civilization
  65. Child Sexual Abuse
  66. Education is the only Solution
  67. Fit for Purpose
  68. BLUE CHIP TALKS TO THE CREATOR OF TEETOO AND TANIA
  69. Mini meringue recipe
  70. NEW ANIMATED TV SERIES PAKISTANI
  71. Changing the Perception of Public Transport Motorway Express
  72. AUSTENISTAN DEBUTS WITH ELEGANCE AND ENTHUSIASM
  73. PAKISTAN’S WOMEN OF 2017
  74. THE BEAUTY IN BUSINESS
  75. PERCEPTIONS ARE ALSO REALITY
  76. Blue Chip Q/A with Atiqa Odho
  77. Five major political events of 2017
  78. WHAT DOES TRUMP’S TWEET MEAN FOR CPEC AND THE REGION
  79. THE GLOBAL ECONOMY IN 2017
  80. AFGHANISTAN GOING DOWNHILL
  81. 2017 FOR PSX – THE CLIMB AND THE DECLINE
  82. What we can learn from Ghalib
  83. QUINOA SALAD WITH THAI DRESSING
Sat, Feb 16, 2019
  1. Khalid Zahid: Transforming Saudi Art
  2. Now Walk the Talk, Imran
  3. Violence against Minorities
  4. Unsheltered
  5. Lumbering Giant with a Midget’s Mentality
  6. How to Encourage Terrorism
  7. Faisalabad in 2028
  8. Mental Illness & the Progress of a Nation
  9. Child Sexual Abuse
  10. Living amongst the clouds : Aalia Bux
  11. Mental health – What soldiers can teach us
  12. Many Cookies still to Crumble
  13. Steering Through Turbulence
  14. ExxonMobil – Close to hitting huge oil reserves in Pakistan, bigger than Kuwait’s
  15. NAYA PAKISTAN?
  16. Making ADR work for Women
  17. Women’s Rights under Family Law
  18. Shutting the Door on Refugees
  19. Water Challenges and Opportunities
  20. In Conversation with Dr. Ghulam Rasul on Hydrology
  21. In Conversation with Shafqat kakakhel: Internal Water Management Practices
  22. Come on Skipper !
  23. GUMM
  24. Annus Horibilis
  25. The Inhumanity of Pakistan’s Coal Industry
  26. Iran Nuclear Deal The U.S Withdrawal
  27. Method in the Madness
  28. Legal System Reforms
  29. Power Over Impulse
  30. Refugees and Migrants are People too
  31. PTCL – A Nonstop Journey Towards Excellence
  32. Gulgee – The Last of The Greats
  33. Patrik Hoffmann – Sonraj
  34. Pakistan’s Primordial Hindu Heritage
  35. Pakistan’s Migrant Tragedy
  36. PTCL – Fastest Growing Brand in Pakistan
  37. Keep Pakistan’s Wagon Hitched To The China Star
  38. Anique’s Chocolate Cake
  39. Selfless & Fearless – Lahore Qalandars
  40. NEWS PICKS
  41. Intellectual Property and Tourism
  42. Fitness with the Mughal
  43. REBEL WITH A CAUSE
  44. The Big Fat Lie – Cholesterol (Part-1)
  45. Mummy’s Recipes Roast Chicken & Veg
  46. ENGAGING HEADS HEARTS AND HANDS
  47. The Big Fat Lie – Cholesterol (Part-2)
  48. Q & A with Star of Parchi
  49. Addressing Sexual Abuse
  50. Q & A with EMAN ZAEEM & MEHR SAAD
  51. Pakistan’s Lost Children
  52. ENGLAND AND THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION
  53. STICK WITH FRIENDS AND DITCH THE ENEMIES
  54. The Phenomenon that Stephen Hawking was!
  55. In Conversation with ANUSHAY ZEESHAN
  56. Q & A with owner of District 6 – Anum Rafat
  57. Ali Rehman Khan – Naturally A Star
  58. MUNIBA`S Call for Tolerance & Justice
  59. Q&A Muniba Mazari
  60. Health Quotient (Dental health)
  61. Money for nothing, bits for free
  62. FinTech
  63. TRADING THREATS OF WAR
  64. Crisis of Civilization
  65. Child Sexual Abuse
  66. Education is the only Solution
  67. Fit for Purpose
  68. BLUE CHIP TALKS TO THE CREATOR OF TEETOO AND TANIA
  69. Mini meringue recipe
  70. NEW ANIMATED TV SERIES PAKISTANI
  71. Changing the Perception of Public Transport Motorway Express
  72. AUSTENISTAN DEBUTS WITH ELEGANCE AND ENTHUSIASM
  73. PAKISTAN’S WOMEN OF 2017
  74. THE BEAUTY IN BUSINESS
  75. PERCEPTIONS ARE ALSO REALITY
  76. Blue Chip Q/A with Atiqa Odho
  77. Five major political events of 2017
  78. WHAT DOES TRUMP’S TWEET MEAN FOR CPEC AND THE REGION
  79. THE GLOBAL ECONOMY IN 2017
  80. AFGHANISTAN GOING DOWNHILL
  81. 2017 FOR PSX – THE CLIMB AND THE DECLINE
  82. What we can learn from Ghalib
  83. QUINOA SALAD WITH THAI DRESSING

History is a fascinating, gripping subject that brings to light many facets of our past existence. Same is true of economic history. And one of the most fascinating debates in economic history concerns the Industrial revolution, that monumental event which changed the economic fortunes of countries and mankind forever. Of all the aspects of this remarkable event, perhaps the most intriguing one is that it first happened in England, an island off mainland Europe. This itself begets an enthralling query: why in England and not anywhere else? Recently, this question gained prominence again as an economic historian wondered why the industrial revolution did not occur in the Roman empire? We can extend this interesting probe to include the Byzantium, Muslim, Spanish, Mughal and Ottoman empires (etc.), who despite having vast resources never experienced anything similar. As expected, theories abound.

 

Two major ones revolve around technological prowess and institutional shocks. Robert C. Allen’s work is an apt description of the former.  He hypothesizes that it was the British lead in technology, a superiority that was based on the unique wage and price structure that existed in Britain since at least the medieval period, a structure borne out of the commercial and imperial expansion of Britain. This ‘mercantilist’ period started to take shape in 15th century. As it progressed gradually, it gave rise to high wages and prices, while at the same time making capital relatively inexpensive. This, in turn incentivized the substitution of capital for labor. Owing to the expensive labor, there arose great demand for labor saving innovation. This demand for innovation was supported by a skilled and educated population, with enough savings to finance such inventions. Moreover, Allen states that compared to Europe, energy was cheap in Britain relative to real wages (coal was naturally abundant in Britain). This made it easy to propel economic activity (energy use and economic growth have a positive relationship). Events like the Enlightenment and the Newtonian scientific revolution only sought to buttress the developments set in motion by earlier events.

 

The institutional view of industrial revolution is led by prominent scholars like the late Douglass North, and it lays emphasis upon institutional developments as the primary factors. A recent example of this view is the work of Robinson and Vollmer, suggesting that it was the development of institution of local land market that proved a catalyst towards industrial developments. This institutional development, in turn, owed to a momentous event (Dissolution of Monasteries,1534). At the time of dissolution, the Church in England owned about one third of all land besides having the power to tax. With their dissolution, taxes went to the government and the church land was sold. This gave rise to local land markets all over England, where transactions could be quickly settled and titles were easily transferred. In time, this gave rise to a gentry that plowed its wealth not in land but in commerce, industry and innovation (interestingly, the imperial and commercial expansion of Britain was also occurring around that time). Of the 16000 places analyzed by authors, the ones with previously the highest concentration of church land experienced the highest degree of industrialization, thus leading the authors to conclude that the development of institution of market in lands spurred the gradual move towards industry.

Summarizing two prominent theories need not imply that other theories do not merit attention. For e-g, Gregory Clark’s theory based on irrefutable parish records of English births and deaths suggested social norms and eugenics as playing a crucial role. But since the two are most widely cited (and repeated in one form or another), therefore they were briefly discussed.

 

I’ll now turn to the intriguing question of why empires never experienced such an event? Most of us like to think of past ages and empires as backward and technologically bereft. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Some of them, in fact, were very advanced for their time. The ‘Antikythera Mechanism’, for e-g, was in use 2000 years ago in Greece. This remarkable device, which has baffled modern scientists, could tell motion of celestial bodies (like moon and sun) with pinpoint accuracy. Joseph Needham has extensively documented how advanced the Chinese empires were in terms of inventions (paper, gunpowder, compass, etc.). The ancient Indian empires gave the world a numeral system, ayurvedic medicines and advanced mathematics. Roman empire’s stunning engineering feats like the aqueducts and amphitheaters are still a sight to behold. The Muslim/Arab empire gave the world inventions like paper maps and surgical instruments.

 

Yet none of them ever experienced anything close to the industrial revolution. Why? A probable answer, amongst the many, comes through looking at characteristics of industrial revolution. Two prominent ones were the spread and diffusion of knowledge, and the government’s complementing act (through laws). We find both of these missing in case of empires. Knowledge diffusion seemed to be limited, with little evidence of official support. Needham’s research concurs by pointing out that despite tremendous advances, knowledge and technology in ancient China was limited to imperial courts. In the Ottoman empire, the monopoly of religious scholars prevented printing press (an outstanding medium for knowledge diffusion) from reaching there for 3 centuries after its invention. These, along with numerous other factors (incessant wars, uneducated populations, non-clarity of geographical boundaries, persistent famines and plagues, etc.), prevented anything like the industrial revolution from taking place in these empires and other parts of the world.

 

By Shahid Mehmood

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LATEST POSTS

Now Walk the Talk, Imran
Violence against Minorities
Unsheltered

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November 5, 2018
Lumbering Giant with a Midget’s Mentality