Building Viksit Bharat: Preparing the workforce for Vision 2047

India's economic aspirations require a more technologically adept workforce trained and equipped to take advantage of artificial intelligence's benefits

Updated: Apr 29, 2024 04:21:31 PM UTC
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In late 2023, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced "Viksit Bharat@2047," a vision for India in 2047, its 100th year of independence, to transform the country into a $30 trillion developed economy. The initiative aimed to develop synergies between the skilled youth force and government policies to achieve national goals.

Irrespective of electoral outcomes, future governments would aim to maintain the same earnest outlook towards creating more jobs and economic growth.

The Blue Collared Backbone

It was in early 2022, during the National Labour Conference, that PM Modi emphasised the role of India's labour force in building a developed nation in the Amrit Kaal. In India, 85 percent of the workforce comprises blue-collar workers. In 2023, the blue-collar workforce saw a 7.40 percent rise in hiring, according to an Indeed report. While protecting the rights of the blue-collar workforce has made headlines recently, there is a lack of a formal approach to ensure they are ready for work while being adaptable to the evolving needs of the industry. According to a recent report by the World Economic Forum, India needs to skill and upskill over 400 million workers by 2030 to meet the demands of the changing economy.

The ambitious goal of Viksit Bharat@2047 hinges on the two most synergetic forces since the Industrial Revolution: man and the machine, i.e., India's blue-collar workers and the transformative power of new-age technology, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI).

India's Twin Engines: The Blue-Collar Workforce and AI

Imagine AI-powered warehouse management systems that optimise storage layouts, pick-and-pack processes, route planning for deliveries, or analyse sensor data from trucks and other transportation equipment to predict potential setbacks. This isn't science fiction—this is reality here and now. The real power lies in identifying and focusing on the synergy.

A computer is not merely a fast typewriter. It has the power to enhance people's abilities, allowing them to unlock new potential in their outputs.

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Now imagine AI bridging the massive skills gap in India by allowing blue-collar workers to identify their strengths and weaknesses and then acting on their behalf whenever a weak skill is called upon. This is not AI-based upskilling but AI skill augmentation for the blue-collar workforce. In the digital era, we have to understand that AI's true potential is beyond the current horizons that we can fathom—it enables continuous evolution and upliftment of the workforce, ready to adapt to new industry challenges. Such a workforce, empowered by AI, will enhance productivity, reduce costs, and make India globally competitive.

As complicated and challenging as it may sound, the roadmap already exists, but not without certain challenges like India's digital divide.

The Power of Aggregation at Micro Levels 

The true magic behind "Viksit Bharat@2047" lies not in the grand, broader picture but in the power of aggregation at the micro level with ripple effects.

The key to unlocking this potential lies in localised solutions. Investing in rural infrastructure, internet access, digital literacy programs, upskilling initiatives, and AI technology can cater to the unique needs of blue-collar workers across sectors.

Additionally, AI-powered programmes have immense potential for addressing workers' everyday challenges. Whether optimising agricultural practices, enhancing supply chain efficiency, or facilitating remote healthcare services, AI technologies can help assist rural livelihoods and bridge the digital divide.

Also Read- How Apna is trying to bring out champions from the blue-collar world

The potential of human abilities combined with the powers of AI is much talked about but perhaps understood only superficially. The power can be understood by taking the analogy of Iron Man—Tony Stark, the human mortal man, and JARVIS, the artificial intelligence program. Tony depends on JARVIS' wide repository of knowledge to help him augment his physical and mental skills, allowing him to undertake superhuman endeavours and solve complex problems. Together, just as they evolve and transcende the barriers of human ability—the blue-collar workforce can do the same. They must be equipped and allowed to overcome their current limitations through AI augmentation. The skilled hands will write India's success story in 2047 of our large blue-collared workforce, but only when we can augment their abilities with the power of technology.

Madhav Krishna is the founder and CEO of Vahan Inc.

The thoughts and opinions shared here are of the author.

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