For India to play a leading role in the fourth industrial revolution, led by new technology and cyber-physical systems, it will have to rethink its policies around education and immigration, and speed up the adoption of new technologies, author and philanthropist Ravi Venkatesan said.
“Unless we do something different, we are going to lose out on job-creation opportunities,” said Venkatesan, chairman, Bank of Baroda. He was speaking at a fireside chat at the Future of Jobs in India summit by FactorDaily in association with recruitment process outsourcing company CareerNet on Monday. The topic of discussion was ‘Finance and Banking Jobs as the Money Business Goes the FinTech Way’.
We’re seeing dramatic advances in every field — gene editing, space travel, new materials. It’s called science-based innovation. This fourth industrial revolution seems to be more sweeping in its implications than the first one
“I feel that we are sitting at moment in time which is pretty binary. If India could ride this wave, then we could really be the top stack and leapfrog many stages of development. If we fumble around and don’t get our act together, the consequences could be pretty dire for the country,” said Venkatesan.
Conversations in global fora these days are centred around the opportunities and challenges that the fourth industrial revolution puts forward. Considering the fact that a billion people are connected to the internet, artificial intelligence (AI) and new technologies like gene editing are going to pose challenges to governments and businesses as well.
“It’s not just about AI. We’re seeing fairly dramatic advances in every field — gene editing, space travel, new materials. It’s called science-based innovation. This fourth industrial revolution seems to be even larger and sweeping in its implications than the first industrial revolution,” said Venkatesan, the author of Conquering the Chaos: Win in India, Win Everywhere. He added that the country needs to make immigration policies that help suck top talent from around the world and also foster science-based innovation in a systematic way like it is done in the US.
In the US, for instance, you have research universities, world-class industrial labs and significant government funding for long-term research projects. “They have done a pretty good job, mopping up smart people from all over the world and then they have an entrepreneurial ecosystem,” he said. Most of India’s top universities don’t figure in global rankings and only a handful of research labs exist in India today.
Venkatesan also had some advice for people who want to survive in the new world. For professionals to thrive in the new workplace, approaching your life as a set of ‘gigs’ rather than a predictable career, learning agility and building a brand is important, he said. “That’s how I’ve been thinking of my life,” he said. The one skill that will never go out of fashion is your ability to work with people, he added.
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