Of A Balanced Job-Model 

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 13 Oct 2018 12:12:01

New Delhi, October 11 (PTI): Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Thursday, allayed fears of job loss due to technological development, saying that the 4th Industrial Revolution will change the nature of jobs and provide more opportunities. 

Speaking at the launch of the World Economic Forum (WEF) Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Modi said, his Government was open to policy changes to help reap benefits of the new wave. ...
... Artificial intelligence, machine learning, Internet, blockchain, big data hold potential to take India to new heights, the Prime Minister added. ...

THE Prime Minister is on the mark about the employment potential of the coming times. New technologies will offer better and more jobs, he asserts, as he launches a new World Economic Forum Centre for Fourth Industrial Revolution. From his standpoint as a world leader, Mr. Modi is certainly right when he insists that the coming times will not see loss of jobs, but an increase in overall employment. However, it cannot be denied that there are quite many issues that need to be considered in details and sympathy if we are to meet the challenge of joblessness in the country, if not the world.

At least at the moment, the possibility of increased job potential which the Prime Minister is talking about pertains mostly to urban employment in the arena of newer technologies. Obviously, for necessary education to handle the latest technologies will be available not in villages but in cities, and that too with people who have the resources and facilities to reach those levels of learning. Naturally, new jobs will be garnered only by such people -- the urban elite, to be precise. By India’s standards and requirements, this employment model is going to have its own areas of trouble with a worrisome lopsidedness, to say the least.

In statistical terms, the increased urban employment may be able to claim big numbers of jobs whenever those come people’s way. In social terms, however, those numbers would not represent the reality that millions of non-urban people would be without jobs, thanks to the neo-technology model on one hand and the collapse of traditional model of employment in the rural sector through agriculture on the other. Considering the Indian conditions on the ground, it must be stated without hesitation that the country can only ill-afford to romance with the urban-centric model of employment that would promote only newer technologies as grounds to hire select people because of their better skill-sets that emerge from modern education in cities.

In sharp contrast, the condition in the villages is far from satisfactory since rural youths have never been exposed to appropriate skill-sets for employment, and also have lost countless job opportunities because agriculture is no more a socio-economic model in which employment generation took place in a cyclical and natural manner. In sowing season, the whole village -- including the women -- worked in the fields. In the gap between sowing and harvesting, the rural folks got engaged in other traditional, artisan-based employment, and then went to the fields again for harvesting. There were countless rural professions like carpenters, potters, iron smiths, gold smiths, silver smiths, veterinarians and related jobs, plus cobblers, weavers, dyers, teachers, traditional medics etc.

These professions did provide robust employment to most persons during non-farming days, but did not get counted exactly as economic activity. Those were supporting areas that staved off the problem rural unemployment in a big measure. All these professions have been badly mauled in the current rural economic model, destroying job opportunities. Do we spare some thought to this aspect?

There is no need to deny ourselves the benefits of latest technological advancement represented by the fourth Industrial Revolution. But there also is no need for us to deny the other realities of the larger Indian scenario. Much to the contrary, we will have to accept the ugly underbelly of a failed economic model, and think of rectifying it in the best possible manner.

Indian economy is at the moment suffering from lack of adequate jobs in urban and rural, sectors. In the near future, we will certainly see a rapid growth of latest technologies and their employment potential as was pointed out by the honourable Prime Minister. But that ultra-modern model of employment will be grossly inadequate and undeployable in the rural sector where socio-economic and educational arenas operate on different premises, thanks to the absence of skill-development and educational opportunities for decades. For those people, the economic planners and political leadership will have to evolve another employment model.

Of course, things are easier said than achieved. Yet, the actual need in India is to have employment models in urban and rural sectors that balance each other potently. If the cities will have more and better job opportunities -- in increased numbers as Mr. Modi is claiming -- the rural sector will have to be decked up with job opportunities in appropriate technologies that encompass agriculture as well. This mixed model will certainly offer India better economic prospects.

It must be admitted unfortunately that the Indian planners have demonstrated scant respect for achieving such a grand mix. In the past five-six decades, they have not engaged themselves in usage of appropriate technologies as grounds of job opportunities in semi-urban and rural sectors. This is the balance we must achieve between urban and rural Indias. This is our most important need today.