Veteran industrialist Adi Godrej has sought to brush aside concerns regarding job losses due to the advent of automation, artificial intelligence and robotics, asserting that those were the factors that increase productivity and cautioned against resisting winds of change.
“It (things like automation, artificial intelligence and robotics) only improves productivity”, the Chairman of Godrej Group said.
“Throughout history, every time there are new inventions, new productivity improvements, people worry about jobs not being created. It increases productivity. When you increase productivity, economy grows and when your economy grows, there will be more jobs created and there will be better progress. So, we shouldn’t worry about it at all”, Godrej said.
“We should encourage all forms of productivity increase. Otherwise, same protests when machinery first started, same protests came when computers were first used in banks etc, etc…We should encourage productivity improvement, that’s the way the world improves,” he said.
Godrej, a former President of Confederation of Indian Industry, dismissed suggestions from some quarters that 25 years of economic liberalisation had led to wealth inequality becoming sharper with benefits largely not reaching farmers.
He argued that in the last 25 years, India has lifted “many, many more” people out of poverty than it did in the earlier years after independence.
“So, unless you have good economic policy, you cannot remove poverty. And it’s a natural corollary that there will be some people who have been very successful earning more than people who are not successful. That’s a natural corollary of free enterprise. So, we shouldn’t be too concerned about that,” he added,
“Otherwise in the day of socialism before we opened up, it led to poverty for all which is terrible. So, I think it (economic liberalisation) has been very good for India. Of course we could have done even better, with more liberalisation. We should continue in that path,” Godrej said.
He sees tremendous opportunity for the country in the start-up space, noting that Indians are very innovative, entrepreneurial, and instead of becoming job-seekers, these people (those who have started start-up ventures) have become job providers.
“So we should encourage them tremendously, provide all the necessary facilities for them to succeed, and the government is doing that, and it’s a good move”, Godrej said.