By N.K.A. Ballal, Retd. Sr. Vice-President, ITDC
A 16-year-old youth gets up and starts perusing a newspaper. What does he read? Automation: Cognizant lays off 6,000 workers, Infosys to follow.
Automation is a reality one has to face. In 1998, Kodak had 1,70,000 employees and sold 85% of all photo papers around the world. Now, where is that company? It has almost disappeared with the advent of digital printing. Ironically, Steven Sasson, the man who invented digital photography was working for Kodak for several years. What was the mistake of the company? Simple, they just did not see the new automation revolution and keep up with times.
What has happened to Kodak will happen to lots of industries around the world. Imagine, Uber is just a software tool and they do not own any cars but still they are the biggest taxi company in the world. Aribnb is now the biggest hotel company in the world although they do not own any of the hotels they market. This year a computer beat the best go player in the world, 10 years earlier than predicted!
In the US, young lawyers are jobless because of ‘IBM Watson’ where one can get legal advice within seconds with 90 percent accuracy compared to 70 percent done by humans. Diagnosing cancer, ‘IBM Watson’ can do it 4 times more accurately than any doctor. It is expected that by 2030, computers will become more intelligent than humans.
Even at present “Google Mata” is the trouble-shooter for millions around the world. Take cars, in a decade or two, driverless cars/trucks will be in place, displacing millions of humans. The present lot of car makers who churn out diesel and petrol cars will phased out with the advent of electric cars.
At present, electric cars are expensive and costly to maintain but with new technology it will become affordable. If one recollects, solar power used to cost Rs. 7 unit a few years back but now it is available at Rs. 3. The bitter truth is that automation is here to stay and it is going to take away millions of jobs across the world.
How do you expect the young minds to react? The same news is magnified and is relayed on the TV and print media day in and day out. Imagine the mindset of a 16 or 18-year-old — confused and angry. One is considered successful only if you able to land a job after finishing one’s education. In Mysore, every parent has only two options, make their wards either an engineer or a doctor. Just finishing an MBBS education will get you nowhere. One requires at least an M.D in education to be successful. Can an aam aadmi afford Rs. 1 crore and above for every seat?
The premium for engineering seat is also coming down with campus recruitment on the decline and the companies busy re-skilling their own existing workforce to survive in these trying times. Our university authorities are also not ready to change the syllabus to produce employable graduates and a recent study has confirmed that only about 5 percent of the existing students are employable. If this is the state of affairs of professional colleges, what to talk of other streams of science and arts?
Time has come for our youngsters to think out-of-the-box solutions, by keeping their eyes and ears open. Automation is going to eat away lots of jobs. It is estimated that about 60 percent of jobs are in stake and may be eliminated in another 10 to 15 years. One has to move with times and India cannot be an exception to the rule. All developed countries around the world are slowly but steadily becoming protectionist to their population and a growing demand for jobs from their own citizens.
What is the solution? It is simple. Get over the mindset of becoming an engineer or a doctor. Use the Information Technology to check new avenues and courses on offer across India. We have just not explored enough the opportunities available in this world. Let us not become a nation of engineers and doctors alone.
I have listed some of the courses and untouched fields which have a great future. There are hundreds more I have not mentioned. Some may be undergraduate courses and some may be post-graduate ones. Be smart, vigilant and embrace the future:
Climatic analysis and management
Geology and disaster management
Water reservoirs planning and creation, flood & drought management
Aquatic life studies
Material studies & management
Fuel, power and energy management
Textile studies & management
Linguistics (language expertise) & translations
Marketing management in unexplored sectors like politics, science, films & social media
International law and political studies
Psychology & psychoanalysis
Artistry, digital art & designing
Educational studies and management
Astronomy and other studies of space technology
Waste management and recycling studies
Media, print and TV
Demography & culture studies
History and archaeological studies
Film production and associated expertise
Nutrition and healthcare management
Travel management & writing
Mapping and related studies
Martial arts and techniques for defence fields
Sports studies (for both players and referee/umpiring) and training
Content creation and analysis
Genetics and genomics
I am sure there must be some course listed above which may interest you. If you check on your own, you may find something more interesting. Make your own destiny. Let us become a nation of people with vision and imagination once again. Do you agree?
It is a very good needy information. Seminars or workshops to be conducted for better information and publicity. To be thought at high school level, during vacations along with parents
Well written , in keeping with changing times .