69 percent of Jobs in India Under Threat of Automation : Report : Daily Current Affairs

Relevance: GS-3: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life

Key Phrases: Future of Jobs Forecast, Threat of Automation, Reduced factory lead times, Lower Operating Costs, Better planning, Workforce Automation, AICRA Tech Startup Programme, Robotic process automation, Software Robotics

Why in News?

  • According to a recent report by a market analytics firm, Forester, on the ‘Future of Jobs Forecast’ between 2020 and 2040, 69 percent of Indian jobs are under the threat of automation.

Key Highlights:

  • The country, with its relatively young workforce, is set to add 160 million new workers over the next 20 years.
  • India will be one of the few economies in the Asia Pacific region to see massive workforce expansion in the future.
  • Thus, it will face challenges in incorporating automation as well as job creation of additional entrants into the workforce.

What is Automation?

  • Automation is the use of technology to perform tasks with reduced human assistance.
  • The implementation of automation technologies, techniques, and processes improves the efficiency, reliability, and/or speed of many tasks that were previously performed by humans.

Advantages of automation:

  • Lower operating costs: Robots can perform greater tasks with improved efficiency as compared to humans. Robots streamline processes and increase part accuracy, which means minimal material waste for the operations.
  • Reduced factory lead times: Automation can improve process control and significantly reduce lead times compared to outsourcing or going overseas.
  • Consistent and improved part production and quality: Automated cells typically perform the manufacturing process with less variability than human workers. This results in greater control and consistency of product quality.
  • Smaller environmental footprint: Automation uses less energy by streamlining equipment and processes, reducing scrap, and using less space.
  • Better planning: Consistent production by robots allows businesses to reliably predict timing and costs. That predictability permits a tighter margin on most any project.

Difference between Automation and Artificial Intelligence:

  • Automation is a type of software that follows pre-programmed rules while Artificial Intelligence (AI) is software designed to simulate human thinking.
  • The automation collects and works with data while AI ‘understands’ data.
  • AI is for non-repetitive tasks while Automation is for repetitive tasks based on commands and rules.
  • AI interacts with humans and it learns from experience and compares the situations and then works according to them but automation has no interaction with humans and it works on instructions.

What will be the impact of automation on the Asia Pacific (APAC) economies?

  • India, China, South Korea, Australia, and Japan will create 28.5 million new jobs in renewable energy, green buildings, smart cities and smart infrastructure, and professional services by 2040.
  • But even with the creation of new jobs in areas such as the green economy and information and communications technology (ICT) industries, 13.7 million jobs in the region will be lost to automation across wholesale, retail, transport, accommodation, and leisure sectors.
  • The working populations in APAC are more at risk due to physical robot automation than in Europe and North America because a high share of these economies comes from industry, construction, and agriculture, which are more susceptible to automation.
  • However, the number of jobs lost to automation in India is likely to be lesser in comparison to other APAC countries such as South Korea, Japan and Australia as per the report.

Challenges ahead for India:

  • India has one of the youngest working populations in the world.
  • The average age of an Indian worker is 38 years old, in comparison, China’s average working age is 47, and in South Korea, the average age of a worker is 46.
  • The biggest workforce challenge to be faced by India is whether the country would be able to facilitate and formalise adequate jobs for India’s massive working population.
  • India’s main priority thus lies in job creation to accommodate the new worker growth.

Why workforce automation is challenging for India?

  • 80 percent of the non-agricultural employment in India is in the informal sector.
  • Agriculture contributes 41 percent of jobs in India but contributes only 16 percent of the country’s gross value added (GVA).
  • The recent government back-down on agriculture reforms shows the challenge of reforming working practices to obtain economies of scale.
  • Thus, the implementation of automation in the workforce will be harder for the Indian economy in comparison to its other APAC contemporaries.

What should be done?

  • To prepare for the changes brought on by automation, the five largest economies in APAC will have to radically rethink their workforce strategies.
  • Hiring more female workers: While each economy faces its own challenges, common focus areas such as hiring more female workers can help offset working population declines.
  • Focus on STEM sector: Investing in STEM education, technology workforce training, and protecting the rights of freelance workers will become of utmost importance.
  • Reskilling: Upgradation of the skills of individuals by the promotion of new technological courses and launching of new platforms which help them keep updated with the recent trends and technologies.
  • Upskilling: Teaching the students the skills that will equip them with future-ready competency. Establishment of state-of-the-art colleges and educational institutions for nurturing young minds and guiding them in the right direction. New futuristic innovations hence need to be integrated into today’s learning experience.

Do You Know?

  • The All India Council for Robotics and Automation (AICRA) has announced the launch of a new initiative, the AICRA Tech Startup Programme.
  • The programme will act as an incubation environment for startups and other early stage adopters working on robotics and robotic process automation (RPA) in India, in a bid to expand the entire industry with increased urgency.

All India Council for Robotics and Automation (AICRA):

  • It is a not-for-profit organization founded in 2014, the leading organization that sets standards for the robotics, automation, and education sector.
  • It assists more than 35,00+ member and professional organizations in solving problems and difficult techniques while improving their leadership and personal professional abilities.

What is Robotic process automation (RPA)?

  • Robotic process automation (RPA) is a form of business process automation technology based on metaphorical software robots (bots) or on artificial intelligence (AI)/digital workers.
  • It is sometimes referred to as software robotics.
  • In traditional workflow automation tools, a software developer produces a list of actions to automate a task and interface to the back-end system using internal application programming interfaces (APIs) or dedicated scripting language.
  • In contrast, RPA systems develop the action list by watching the user perform that task in the application's graphical user interface (GUI), and then perform the automation by repeating those tasks directly in the GUI.
  • This can lower the barrier to the use of automation in products that might not otherwise feature APIs for this purpose.


  • In India, the pandemic has more than doubled the growth rate of IT service companies, with 6 to 7 percent growth pre-pandemic and 15 to 20 percent growth post-pandemic.
  • By 2025, India’s IT industry will capture 10 percent of the nation’s GDP, and India’s fintech finance market could reach more than $150 billion.
  • Therefore, job growth in the ICT industry will help offset automation job losses, with 3.8 million additional new jobs created by 2040.
  • Moreover, the digital platform work in India creates new job opportunities for both highly skilled online freelancers and less skilled informal workers while balancing employment opportunities across genders.

Source: The Hindu

Mains Question:

Q. Define automation. How is it different from artificial intelligence? What are the challenges associated with automation? Suggest the way forward in order to foster balanced economic growth as well as job opportunities for the Indian workforce.(250 words).