The Catch-22 scenario of transforming to a Digital Society

Digitalization is the new buzzword in the country, especially since the controversial demonetization drive launched by PM Modi on November 8 last year. Vast swathes of people from all walks of life who had never before been introduced to digitalization were prompted to switch to the digital platform for making payments, whether they liked it or not.

This is just one aspect of the government’s campaign on Digital India. But on the other hand the question looms how the government can make way for one million jobs each month if the country’s production systems, not just for goods but for services as well, get based on artificial intelligence, including robotics.

The question is more evident if we consider that India is losing over 500 jobs every day. The World Bank has postulated that as many as 69% of jobs in the country can be done away with as they have the potential to be automated. It’s indeed extremely disturbing to envisage India’s socio-political scenario if this materializes into a reality considering that digital automation looks set to increase rapidly. 

What can be done to create jobs for India’s burgeoning population? From the perspective of the country’s ‘green economy’ one area could be the renewable energy sector, which assures to create 1.1 million jobs. On the other hand, The Bay of Bengal initiative aspires to kickstart blue-water farming, give a thrust to pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries, and develop coastal infrastructure. Would India really be able to depend on job-creation from a service-led economy?

A big slice of the country’s tech-savvy populace seems poised to leverage the global gig economy. But will all this lead to a race where only the cheapest service providers are sought after? Too many expectations are pinned on India’s huge domestic market; but are all consumers in a position to avail all those products & services?

The point is, if the economy wants to avert any backsliding, newer ways of income generation have to be thought of. Making improvised uses of services such as tourism, food and health could be one way, besides many others wherein new business models can be thought of.

What I am trying to put across is that a reflective, thought-inducing deliberation is required vis-à-vis the Digitalization push – so that we fully appreciate the impact – as the Digital revolution will have a disruptive impact not just on the economy but societies at large as well.

 

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