OF JOBS OF FUTURE

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 23 Sep 2017 11:15:23


 

 

It is necessary to harp here that our old masters had a reasonable solution to this problem -- of appropriate technology. That thought centered on one point: Never allow technology to replace human contribution, never allow excessive automation to replace human labour, never allow machines to be the master, ensure that the machine is the enslaved device and not the enslaver.

Princeton,US, September 20 (PTI): Congress lost the 2014 elections as it failed to generate enough jobs, party Vice President Rahul Gandhi confessed during an interactive session with students at the prestigious Princeton University here. “I think, the central reason why Mr. Modi rose and why Mr. Trump came, is the question of jobs in India and in the United States. Large parts of our populations do not have jobs and cannot see a future ...”, Rahul Gandhi said.

MANY may tend to agree with Mr. Rahul Gandhi that his party lost the 2014 elections as it failed to create enough jobs. Let alone Mr. Gandhi’s intention to criticise Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi for not doing enough to create more jobs, this is a fact of economic thought that jobs are fundamental to the process of people’s empowerment. Naturally, creation of more jobs is one area that is going to affect the political process, too, as it happened in 2014, according to Mr. Rahul Gandhi. For once, he is right, even though only in parts. Going beyond the concealed political purpose that Mr. Rahul Gandhi might have had behind his statement, it is becoming increasingly clear that creation of adequate jobs is going to be the chief economic agenda of the world. If the Governments -- in India or in the US or anywhere -- are able to solve that problem, they will serve a great cause. If they cannot, they will spell doom for all.

Forty years ago, whenever unemployment rose beyond one per cent, there would be a hue and cry in advanced world. In those years, in developing countries, they expected unemployment to remain under four per cent. Those figures make no sense to day. The world is looking at a much grimmer employment scenario that is making the people sit up and even alter the political narrative. Changing political narrative may not be people’s worry though the politicians may make themselves miserable over its antagonistic nuances. This aspect, thus, is going to dominate the political thought-process of world leaders. They would be willing to traverse longer distances to achieve bigger numbers of jobs across the economic spectrum. In the process, they may even be forced to alter their political refrain in due course of time.

At the World Economic Forum (WEF) at Davos in Switzerland, global leaders agonised over this overall employment scenario. Jobs were getting lesser and lesser, they moaned, thanks to excessive automation, excessive madness in search of machines to replace human contribution. Speeches after speeches, papers after papers at the last WEF stressed this aspect beyond the political narrative, making jobs the central consideration of the new socio-economic thought. It is necessary to harp here that our old masters had a reasonable solution to this problem -- of appropriate technology. That thought centered on one point: Never allow technology to replace human contribution, never allow excessive automation to replace human labour, never allow machines to be the master, ensure that the machine is the enslaved device and not the enslaver.

It is, of course, difficult to prophecy that political leadership across the world, across the political ideological spectrum, would listen to this word of caution and wisdom coming from masters such as Arya Chanakya, Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya, Dr. Ram Manohar Lohiya, E. F. Schumacher, Gunnar Myrdal, to name just a few. It is also equally difficult to predict if the world’s collective leadership -- from Merkel to Modi, from Trump to Theresa May -- will ever think in terms of reversing the technological clock. Yet, it must be kept in mind that time is not far when all these thoughts would storm the collective human mind in the years to come not in much distance into future. The world leadership will have to think seriously about how to reverse the technological Tsunami and how to re-energise human contribution to actual labour.

Mr. Rahul Gandhi is no thinker to be taken seriously on any count. Yet, the reference he made to jobs as the critical component in economic thinking merits appropriate attention. He is, of course, not alone talking about this. He might have talked about it at Princeton only to offer an intellectual-sounding justification for why his party failed. Going beyond that political part of the statement, it is necessary to take a look at the toughest challenge now confronting the world. We may have to change our definitions, and we may have to change our collective goals -- beyond politics, beyond ideologies.

Of course, much will depend on how we adopt an entirely different outlook towards employment. Limiting the thought only to the Indian scenario, we must assert that there are millions of jobs in areas that the society has tended to ignore -- in the services sector. An average Indian urbanite still has to wait for a minimum of three days before the electrician he had summoned to change a switch shows up at the door. An average Indian also has to wait for at least a week until the carpenter comes to repair a sagging door.
But then, good signs are also visible.

In recent times, the Ola and Uber and Jugnoo car and autorickshaw taxi services sector has expanded all of a sudden offering jobs to lakhs of people across the Indian landscape. If countries like India focus fully on services sector and also revive their manufacturing sector, then millions of jobs could be created in almost no time. But then, all this would involve an altered thinking. The success of the larger human society to spruce up the sagging economies would depend upon its ability to look for credible alternatives. And, in simpler terms, those alternatives would be in sectors that would be away from excessive automation.

True, technology, especially the digital one, would be of immense help to the expanding services sector -- like the Global Positioning Service (GPS) in hired automobiles business. Yet, the human component would also remain big enough to merit fuller attention. It will be foolhardy to deny the truth that jobs are scarce. But it will be outright foolish not to make concerted attempts to expand the countless sectors where more jobs are still waiting in the wings -- to be picked up by capable people, all over the world.

Viewed in this light, the next economic emphasis must come in skill-development sector so that millions of people would find reasonable and meaningful employment without the ill-effect of excessive automation, beyond the circle of influence of technology.  In other words, all this would come in the area of appropriate technology, as an enslaved machine and not as an enslaver of man. The secret of future economic success would be in understanding this very soft areas of collective comprehension of human society.