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Research Article Open Access

Automation and Labour in India: Policy Implications of Job Polarisation pre and post COVID-19 crisis

Abstract

Improvements in information communication systems (ICT) which characterise the 3rd industrial revolution have resulted in a paradigm-shift resulting in it often being dubbed as the 4th industrial wave[1]. These ICT cover a range of technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics, platform economies and other technologies, which have been widely adopted to automate labour (all these systems would be collectively referred to as ‘automation technology’). 69% of jobs in India are under threat from automation (World Bank 2016). However, the capability to automate and the choice to automate are not one and the same. The final decision to automate is contingent on a host of other factors revolving around sociocultural norms, cost of labour and so on. With such automation of labour, a concerning phenomenon has been observed. This phenomenon, known as ‘job polarisation’, refers to the hollowing out of mid-skill jobs with a relative increase in demand of low- and high-skill jobs. Job polarisation naturally results in wage polarisation and widening of existing inequalities. There is increasing evidence to support the claim that automation results in job polarisation.

 Abishek Nippani

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