Tata Sons chairman N. Chandrasekaran believes developing economies like India must harness the power of technology for inclusive growth. “We must train people, and teach them how to use the digital medium- it is easier than teaching mathematics or reading,” Chandrasekaran said at NASSCOM’s flagship technology and leadership forum 2020.

He pointed out that 90 million people will join the workforce over the next decade, and the use of technology can enable these people to access quality education, employment opportunities, basic healthcare, and good quality of life. “Industry 4.0 is what India needs to address the intractable issues of access that we have faced so far,” he said.

In fact, the fear of technology and artificial intelligence leading to mass unemployment could be misplaced. “Unlike developed economies which use technology to make markets more efficient, India needs tech to first put together a market that will create jobs,” Chandrasekaran said.

Why? This is because a large part of the domestic labour market is part of the economy’s informal and unorganised sector. And, thereby the use of technology can meaningfully lead to inclusive growth.

In this context, the Tata Sons chairman and former TCS CEO demanded the need to change the narrative to assuage the dominant fear of job losses. “In India technology still hasn’t taken over areas of massive opportunity like construction, education, and healthcare,” he explained.

Technology has not reached many areas, and harnessing the power of technology can significantly alter how we work. Yet, the vision for a smart and technology-led economy cannot be achieved if some sections of the society are excluded, Chandrasekaran cautioned.

“A smart economy is not just about creating software professionals. It has to include farmers, children, and blue-collar workers. We have to remove the halo that artificial intelligence is only for the elite,” he explained.

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