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Rahul Ramchandani @Rahul_Ramc
, 13 tweets, 2 min read Read on Twitter
A thread on disguised unemployment and inefficiency:
1/ My recent experience with completing graduation formalities led me to some thinking on efficiency of labor in India and what it might mean for the future.
2/ I had to visit 5 different offices and collect signatures of 8 people who worked as per their own convenience for mundane shit like checking if I had any dues left. Maybe it's just me, but I'm used to one click checkouts. For some reason I expected graduation to be easy.
3/ Having spent hours each day in frustration due to the inefficiency of this system I made a few observations. My hypothesis is that most employment in India in administrative positions like these is disguised unemployment. Employed on paper but horribly unproductive.
4/ Most administrative work can be broadly classified as either routine tasks or exception handling. Disguised unemployment works because turnaround time for exception handling is an unknown and thus metrics can be obfuscated and jobs can be retained. But for how long?
5/ With the advent of AI, and according to McKinsey's report, India is highly susceptible to losing jobs due to automation and AI. I suspect manufacturing, farming and adminstrative tasks will bear the brunt.
6/ Automation and AI will also create a lot of new jobs. However, in new domains that require technical education. Our labor market and service industry exists mostly due to our low price point and this advantage will soon vanish once machines come into picture.
7/ So the larger issue that we need to address is the rehabilitation of displaced workers, retraining of personnel, and investment in good technical education so that the labor force is meaningfully employed.
8/ Coming back to the admin jobs issues: routine tasks can be handled better by machines eliminating a lot of these middlemen who exist solely for 'approval'. Poor exception handling is symptomatic of an inefficient bureaucracy and bad system design, both solvable problems.
9/ I first came across the term disguised unemployment on @kunalb11 's post on Facebook that I'm unable to find right now. But if there's something I've learnt from him it's that one way of value creation lies in eliminating inefficiency.
10/ I wonder if IITB would be willing to pay for a solution that eliminates this inefficiency and saves countless hours for both students and the admin. I'm skeptical. Institutions in India exist not despite their ineffectiveness but due to it. They seem to be doing 'work'.
11/ And this is another huge issue that we face as a country. Inertia to change. This inertia is nowhere as marked as it is in our institutions.
12/ I strongly believe that we need an alternative to the dilapidated, underfunded, education institutions in existence. A substitute that is capable of meeting the needs of the changing labor market and of creating technical solutions that we sorely need.
/*end rant*/
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