Jobs Tsunami Will Hit India Soon


Lalitesh Katragadda, Google Map Maker, Co-founder Google India, social entrepreneur, adviser to the AP government, perhaps has one of the intimate insights on the impact of automation, artificial intelligence, big data, and other technologies on India.

He spoke at the 4th recently. Watch video here. Excerpts


  • India can grow faster – by more than 11% if there’s political will
  • Politicians are clueless about jobless growth
  • Growth of productivity far higher than growth of the economy
  • India will automate faster than any other country
  • Employee strength same in many companies in the last 14 years but companies have grown ten times
  • World faces the threat from single big monopolies

I build systems for a living. I’m an engineer and I perceive the world through what my users do with the systems and what they do not do with the systems and interpret that.

My understanding of the future of the work is that there will be no work. Work as we know, will disappear within the next 20 years.

The future is bright but there is the tsunami coming. The tsunami is that we will see growth, our economy will grow at the rates that have been projected, and if we do a few things right, in the sphere of public policy, it will even grow faster. I think 8.3 to me is the lower bar. We can easily grow at 11% given the potential India has. It’s just the national will that is missing.

The growth of productivity of all the systems, the collective systems, that humanity is building, will far outstrip the growth of the economy itself. So if growth of productivity is far higher than the growth of the economy then the number of jobs will decline.

We are in this inflection point in India in the last five years and public policy makers and politicians have been struggling. They don’t know what to do about it. The reality is no politician can do anything about this. There’s nothing any party can do about it.

The reason why India will automate faster than most of the world is that India has this very large skill gap so if you want to build the quality of tools and machines the same quality as the best in the world, for example, Japan or Germany, we don’t have the skill power to do that. Just to give you an example, and if you go and talk to auto parts manufacturers in Chennai, whoever started around 2004, the number of employees they have approximately has not changed in the last 10 to 12 years but they have grown by tenfold.

The World Bank, along with the Brookings Institute, did a deeper study for every developing country and India was one of them. 69% percent of our jobs are going to disappear in the next 10 years and McKinsey figured out that 250 million IT and services jobs will disappear, most of them a lot of them in India.

India has no choice but to automate. For example, to offer decent healthcare system in India it will cost us about 4.3 trillion dollars. Even if you had four point three trillion dollars it would take us 20 years to train all the doctors we need because you need one doctor for every hundred people. We have one doctor for every 2,000. We have no choice but to automate.

If you talk to people like Devi Shetty he we’ll say that India is at the cusp of automating healthcare and he’s right because the only way we will take care of a billion people is to create systems which will allow people to get healthcare instead of $3,000 at less than $300 per capita.

Automating education is next. You will have these rock star teachers who will be touching a million kids every year not thousands and that future is not that far away.  I call this entire phenomenon the Infinity Era because everything is infinite.

Infinity Era – People Solve Their Own Problems

My own journey was that when I came to India I started writing this piece of code called Map Maker and the idea was that if you give the tool of mapping to all 7 billion people they will map the world themselves. About six years later four million people world over got maps including all the maps you see in Bangalore. Hundred and ninety countries got maps that didn’t have maps and people started doing amazing things with it. This is what the Infinity Era looks like. You build a product and the person who built the product has no idea what the product will be used for.

George Clooney used it for helping South Sudan succeed in a peaceful manner by using Map Maker to map atrocities wherever they happen next. The UN reached out to us when Pakistan got flooded. We gave them the maps and they sent us back a letter saying that out of the 4.2 million people they rescued 800,000 people would not have gotten aid and 250,000 lives would not have been saved but for the maps. Interesting thing is the hero of that story was not the engineers who built it but Pakistani users who actually mapped their own country right. So, in reality I’m only an enabler; I actually don’t solve the problems people solvable it themselves.

India – Data Rich Nation

We are now at the cusp of building several platforms what we call the India stack which will transform India and India will go from data poor to data rich India.  India will probably become the most data rich country in the world in the next five years.

Spend 10,000 Hours, 10 Hours a Day, Become an Expert

Here’s my humble advice. If each of you who want to have an impact, or become a professional, pick an area that you love and spend 10,000 hours on it, as Malcolm Gladwell suggested. My own experience tells me that and don’t spend 10,000 hours two hours a day; it will take very long and you won’t be an expert. Spend 10,000 hours 10 hours a day, in three years, you will become an expert in something. You have to love it otherwise you can’t spend ten hours a day.

India is the most entrepreneurial and friendly country on the planet. If you use our friendship and our entrepreneurship I believe that the 160 million entrepreneurs who will come online using technology. When these 160 million entrepreneurs touch 7 billion people I believe that we will transform the world.


What bothers me is actually are the corporations. People talk about unicorns, you won’t have unicorns, we will either have singularities or we’ll have nothing or we’ll have small businesses. These singularities, for example, Google, Facebook, Netflix, Apple, Tencent or Alibaba – The more they grow the faster they grow which is what makes them a singularity. When that happens, these global conglomerates behave like nation-states. Governments are trying to figure out what to do with them.

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