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Does Driverless really equate to jobless?

India has witnessed many protests and debates around the threat of technology replacing human resources and the subsequent unemployment. Amidst the promotion of Make in India project, Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari said, “We will not allow driverless cars in India. India suffers a huge shortage of 22 lakh drivers. Cab aggregators take advantage of these. We are not going to promote any technology or policy that will render people jobless.” This statement by the minister has created controversies around the country’s outlook towards new technology.

The statement was made keeping in mind the demand of 22 lakh commercial drivers, the government is planning to open around 100 driver-training institutes across the country. This could be agreed upon to a great extent, but his comment about not promoting any technology or policy that will render people jobless has created controversies. Contradictions have been drawn with his previous comment about driverless cars at Auto Expo 2016. “I am delighted to witness this driverless vehicle. This vehicle is not only a Made in India vehicle, but it also addresses the environmental concerns.” said the minister. This undoubtedly raises a question as to whether the former comment was merely to promote Make in India. The statement also goes against a major provision of the Motor vehicles Amendment Bill, 2017, which talks about testing such new technologies.

Indeed, Technology is rendering people jobless, but it is important for the country to match the growing graph of global development. Automating cars will optimise things, and there will be a significant reduction in death rates, which are caused by road accidents in a country, which is responsible for the highest number of road accidents in the world, in other words, the accident capital of the world. Moreover, introducing such technology will lead to the companies developing infrastructure to accommodate the technology in the country. Ultimately, it will result in more job opportunities and contribute to the economic growth. Few of the country’s automotive companies have started testing with autonomous cars with a range of sensors. India has a market need for connected and autonomous vehicles and has a need for infrastructure to support these new technologies. There is a unique opportunity to develop infrastructure concurrently with new vehicle technologies.

Technology will always compete with humans; the need of the hour is to adapt and develop new skills. Holding back new technology for saving employment will hamper economic growth. If India’s initial aversion towards computers had held the fort, industrialization would not have taken place and Indian factories would still be suffering from perennial inefficiencies. Make in India would have been an eternal dream.

Hence, seeing new technology in a dark light is not a wise thing to do and formulating a plan to accommodate such technology will help the country proceed on the path to becoming a superpower. A long-term strategy to enhance skill development and reshape the education system to create market ready employees is the need of the hour rather than holding technology as a catalyst for unemployment. Though Mr. Gadkari is right to focus on unemployment, autonomous vehicles will open up many more global economic opportunities for India as the world is moving towards this reality and India can be a global manufacturer with its talent. , India with its pool of technological talent and skills has to wrest this initiative and become a leader of the autonomous technology which is going to open immense opportunities in the embedded solutions for the car and traffic related activities.