The book presents with insights, explanations and possible solutions to the aggravating jobs crisis in India.
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If you have read about self-driving cars, blockchain and the internet of things (IoT), registered for a massive open online course (MOOC), considered dealing in cryptocurrencies, or asked Alexa to play your favourite song, the chances are that you are one of the select few Indians adjusting to the reality of a brave new world, driven by technology and automation.
But somewhere, you will also acknowledge the growing disquiet in society, where there is job-deficient growth, rising farm distress and youths from different communities agitating for job reservations in government or the public sector. Like elsewhere on the globe, in India too, the worlds of those with skills to handle technology and those without are diverging. This book presents with insights, explanations and possible solutions to the aggravating jobs crisis in India. Raghavan Jagannathan comprehensively and skilfully explains the various micro- and macro-factors that impact the overall job scenario, including the rise of the 'gig' economy, the use of robots, new technologies and artificial intelligence (AI) that displace human labour on the shopfloor and in the services sector, and the economic uncertainties that lie ahead.
Creating jobs is a major challenge facing countries, like India, where a majority of the population falls under the working age. Why new jobs are scarce, and how to create more of them, however, are questions that usually invite unsatisfactory answers. Senior journalist and author Raghavan
Jagannathan seeks to offer the lay-reader a wide survey of the extent of the problem in India, the reasons behind it and the way forward in his new book.
The problem of job creation, Mr Jagannathan argues, is not something unique to India, which is true. The world as a whole, he states, is flush with a lot of excess capital and labour. The owners of such excess capital, however, are not willing to invest their money to create jobs for the masses. Even when they do invest their money, the author adds, the jobs that are created by today's capitalists are simply gigs that do not offer any kind of job security to workers.
The chapters are designed to debate some of the longknown issues concerning India's job market, most importantly, the absence of quality data available for a fair assessment of the situation, the problem with the very definition of 'jobs' in the Indian context. Does selling food on the roadside fall within the definition of a job? The very pertinent question of whether it is a 'wage issue' or 'job issue', given that most people have some form of livelihood but not enough income and the age-old debate of whether automation and technology are a villain or friend in the India-specific employment and unemployment debate. The author puts the unemployment rate in the country somewhere between 2.2 and 5.6 per cent.
Archaic labour laws designed to protect employees from exploitative employers are not helping matters at a time when capital is cheaper than ever. The world of long-term and predictable jobs and careers is shrinking. The only people who will benefit in this scenario are those who are willing to constantly upskill, relearn and relocate to improve their job and income prospects. The world is getting older demographically, and older people always find the speed of change difficult to cope with. India, with its younger population, can do better. But government and business have not got their act together yet.
About the author
Raghavan Jagannathan is a senior business and political journalist with over 42 years of experience. He has served in senior editorial positions in many print publications as well as online publications. He is currently editorial director of the