Won’t allow driverless cars that take away jobs: Nitin Gadkari
India may not see driverless cars over fears that these could take away jobs, a reservation that runs counter to global experiments on such vehicles by tech and automobile giants such as Google and Mercedes.
Union road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari said on Tuesday, “We won’t allow driverless cars in India. I am very clear on this. We won’t allow any technology that takes away jobs. In a country where you have unemployment, you can’t have a technology that ends up taking people’s jobs.”
There is demand for 22 lakh commercial drivers in India at present, he said, for which the government has planned to open 100 driver training institutes across the country. “Five lakh people will get jobs over the next five years,” Gadkari claimed.
Incidentally, the proposed Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2017, pending in Rajya Sabha, has provisions that allow testing of such new technology. “In order to promote innovation and research and development in the fields of vehicular engineering, mechanically propelled vehicles and transportation in general, the central government may exempt certain types of mechanically propelled vehicles from the application of the provisions of this Act,” reads a clause.
Automobile experts say that although some countries have brought driverless cars on the roads to test their viability, the world in general is debating the extent to which the technology can be allowed given its impact on employment opportunities.
“India is not immune to the debate. Today jobless growth is a big issue but you can’t just go ahead and ban new technologies. There was a similar debate when computers came in. Not all technology leads to joblessness. You have to have the right balance. Technology has to coexist,” said Abdul Majeed, automotive leader, Price Waterhouse & Co.
However, India still has a long way to go before such driverless cars become a reality here, Majeed said.