Where are the jobs? Can panacea be so far away?
A few days back, there was a news from India that says that million engineers are struggling to get job. Recently, in a BBC discussion on science, I heard about the British immigration oversight in denying the entry of young Scientists to UK. Well, it did not surprise me totally. Often, the politicians across the world are glib talkers about the problems. If their advisers also lack vision and solutions, then country or any state within it will only stay at same economic activity if its economy does not get eroded. Here is a discussion between two advisors - one to Mr Obama and one to Mr M M Singh, the Indian PM. While the advisor to Mr Obama is overselling the initiatives the US govt is taking in bringing various stake holders together to create jobs, the advisor to the Indian PM leave the impression that he has become by now a wily politician himself. The same person 20 years ago used his vision to transform the Indian telecom sector but now his proximity over a long period of time to top politicians has turned him into defending govt policies rather than talking about the new initiatives the govt has taken or will take soon.
How to create jobs is the biggest problem the world face. The job creation depends most of all on developing and employing new technology means it needs science inputs. The biggest example have been development of fracking (extracting oil) in US just like earlier it was the development of internet itself in which now millions are employed world over. There are tech jobs (knowledge economy) and non tech jobs which can be gradually be turned into tech assisted jobs or moved to a country where none exists.
The job creation does not merely need policy tinkering but also state involvement. In the earlier period of India’s development, India’s socialist PM, Mr Nehru inspired from USSR built industries (steel production, turbines, railway engines, defence items), science institutes, dams etc but since USSR no longer exists. So that inspiration is gone from world over. After Mrs Thatcher came on to the scene in UK transforming its economy, it has left the other inspiration that state should not involve in economic activity as it does not do a good job. So, the drive for privatisation has taken root the world over. India also believes in this philosophy now, so much so that it is gradually reducing the state stakes in the well run state owned companies. But in place of creating new industry from that dis-investment money it is just disbursing that money into poverty elimination programmes etc.
Some of the new jobs, in the global economies could happen in these undeveloped or under-developed areas –
gene therapy, epigenetic, stem-cell therapy, repairing DNA damage to treat cancer through modified virus, developing medicines using bacteriophage, manufacturing antibiotics, proteins(recombinant pharmaceutical proteins) & hormones via other animals, bacteria etc, developing synthetic biology, rare metal mining including deep sea exploration, dealing with hazardous waste recycling such as with bacteria including nuclear waste, developing land fertility, seeking control of pesticides or replacing these with alternatives so as to control the spread of cancer, water harvesting(rainfall) by creating new reservoirs, bunds etc and generate drinking water from sea using RO (reverse osmosis) and solar energy and thus removing draught conditions ( building mini regional water grids), deploying equipment for capturing energy loss(heat) at thermal plants, manufacturing artificial blood, normal organs using 3d printing technology and human stem cells, organ transplant industry, nanotechnology, medical diagnostics(scanners, dna analysers), new sensors and signalling equipments, robotics for hazard material handling, lasers in industrial (surgical, cutting etc), building safe (encrypted data transmission – optical fibre network including routers), building new defence industries(robotics), developing IT internet security industry and old tech tasks of converting all the existing written texts into online ones, creating targets for computerisation of govt machinery and legal justice system(it may help cutting down on delayed justice), develop local cloud servers companies, building freight corridor infrastructure (railway) etc – 2. Since the IT activity only helps other activities, so it is important to find those other activities where IT could be deployed. One area is where big databases are now employed such as genomics which is a field progressed from genetics.
It is not that no tech innovation is taking place in India. Here is the news about how the low cost high tech innovation is helping India improve its health. To get the jobs for million of engineers and others, you need a vision which is a mix of Mr Nehru, the socialist and Mrs Thatcher, the capitalist. It means state should start those economic activity where private sector is unable to go – it is often the innovative areas or areas where economic dividends are not going to come to fruition in short span of time or even apparent at the outset.
Schematics of a reverse osmosis system (desalination) using a pressure exchanger. [Photo Credit: Wikipedia]
1: Sea water inflow, 2: Fresh water flow (40%), 3: Concentrate flow (60%), 4: Sea water flow (60%), 5: Concentrate (drain),
A: Pump flow (40%), B: Circulation pump, C: Osmosis unit with membrane, D: Pressure exchanger
Margret Thatcher philosophy is also needed later to free the state from economic activity once that state owned activity is flourishing, it can then be sold into the hands of private sectors and the released capital be deployed into another new activity. New innovations are taking place all the time but as those innovation in science and technology is taking place in west and west does not believe in getting involved in economic activity, so most of the time, the technology waits until someone from private sector is willing to risk their capital. While the rest of the world waits for any such innovation to be established in west. It is therefore imperative in east particularly China and India to innovate so that technology can come to the market faster by active state involvement.