Profitability of business is associated with the efficiency of deployment of an input-mix comprising of – Machines, Manpower, Materials, Methods, and Money. The era of increasing the component of Manpower in this heady mix is long gone and the emphasis has been on reducing the Manpower to a LEAN extent possible. Technology (Methods) makes labour a commodity-input that can be contracted as easily as any other. The shifts from outsourcing to ‘Uber’isation have been largely driven by the corporate imperative to create shareholder value, and under our current conditions, creating shareholder value and creating good jobs are largely incompatible. Corporations are “job creators” only as a last resort.
Out there is a sea of humanity, which more than anything in the world, wants a regular job with a wage. Jobs provide income, inclusion, confidence, comfort, security, a meaning to life and are a source of engagement that keeps people busy. Good jobs are essential to the good life. Yet good jobs are a minority and India needs lots of them.
Jobs and wages have to be at the heart of all economic growth. Growth without increase in jobs could trigger the rise of anti-nationalism, populism, crime, fanaticism or civil-unrest. Neither a Socialist nor a Capitalist approach to economic management can overcome the threats and consequences of job-less growth.
Technology is not destiny; nor is globalisation. Their direction is not random but shaped by decisions made by firms, governments and individuals. In other words, there is a choice, and it is up to leaders of governments, corporations and civil institutions to shape it in ways that will benefit ordinary citizens as well as themselves – or, as we have seen, ordinary citizens will do it for them.