NITI Aayog should come up with data-backed study to assess AI impact on jobs in India

Advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) will have an impact on jobs globally is beyond dispute.  

But, specific to an Indian context, some of the matters that remain open to question are how many new jobs will get created due to the increasing sophistication of AI, and how many current job roles, especially in the organized sector, would face an existential crisis going forward. Apart from the timeline within which these supposed new jobs would get created and some of the present jobs lost due to the rapid progress of artificial intelligence technologies. 

The answers to these issues assume importance when one factors in the reality that India is currently the world’s most populous nation, with a correspondingly high number of people in the working age group on the lookout for jobs. At over 400 million, the size of India’s current workforce, itself, exceeds the entire population of the United States, the world’s richest nation. 

Neither India’s jobseekers who hope to profit from the surge in AI usage nor those already in the workforce shuddering at the prospect of AI taking away their livelihoods stand to gain much from mere macro projections on the influence that AI would have on the worldwide job scenario. They also don’t benefit in any way from grand proclamations on how AI could be a potential gamechanger in India.   

What could help them, though, is a detailed, independent, data-backed, state-wide, industry sector-wise, and job role-wise study on how AI could influence the job scenario in a geographically diverse country like India where each state is at its own level of growth and development. With such a study also factoring in the extent to which employers in diverse business segments in the country, including those falling in the micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSME) category, would go as far as AI adoption is concerned. The MSME segment is one of the biggest job generators in the country. 

As a powerful tool of citizen empowerment, an India-specific study would enable the country’s current and prospective workforce obtain a clear insight on how AI could impact their careers. It would also let them determine which of the existing jobs would be put most at risk due to the giant strides being made by artificial intelligence technologies and enable them to decide what they need to do to in terms of skilling and/or upskilling to ride the AI wave.        

Ideally, the NITI Aayog should take the initiative for carrying out this study to determine the effect that artificial intelligence would have on the job front in India within the short, medium, and long terms. The advantages of having the NITI Aayog conducting a study on the subject would be manifold. Apart from being rooted in the Indian context, a NITI Aayog report would be free of any form of bias, be thorough, credible, and most significantly, find acceptance among all stakeholders. However impartial it may be, a similar study carried out by any other organization may find it a challenge when it comes to acceptance of its findings by all stakeholders. 

For the study, the NITI Aayog could hold stakeholder consultations with various categories of employers across states, key industry bodies, ministries at the Central and state levels, technology professionals, and other reputed independent experts who can provide informed opinions on the extent to which AI can be a force for good in India regarding job creation. The NITI Aayog setting for itself an ambitious timeline to complete the study, given the rapid pace at which advancements in AI technology take place, would increase the effectiveness of the entire exercise. 

Even as India has signalled its intent to leverage technology in a big way to fast-track the nation’s progress, the country has always made it clear that none of its citizens should get left behind in the process of growth and development. Equipping those already in employment and those on the lookout for such with credible information on how AI could impact the job front in India would enable these people to take the necessary steps to become future-ready professionals in sync with the ‘development for all’ mantra of the government.

About the Author

Sumali Moitra is an Advisor at the Gurgaon-based R M Consulting. Views expressed are personal. Twitter: @sumalimoitra 

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