Prof. Anthony D’Costa, Eminent Scholar in Global Studies and Professor of Economics, University of Alabama, Huntsville delivered the University of Hyderabad Distinguished Lecture on “Long Waves and Shifting Techno-Economic Paradigm: A Case of Indian Automotive Industry” at C V Raman Auditorium on 19th July 2019. This lecture has been organized in consultation with the School of Economics.
Prof. Anthony argued that the trajectory of capitalist development, historically, has been uneven, often believed to be cyclical in long term. After the Russian economist Kondratieff characterized the trajectory as long waves, plotting the data, there is a near consensus that long terms business cycles are caused, inter alia, by technological revolutions. These revolutions, in fact do not confine to any one area of science and technology, instead to a cluster of related fields, each reinforcing the other and the composite change eventually revolutionising products market. The mechanical revolution, chemical revolution, electricals, metallurgical revolution, transistors, semi-conductors, computers, information technology, and biotechnology are some of the revolutions to name which have changed the product portfolio on the modern age. These products and technologies also had to be accompanied by commensurate changes in consumer culture, ethos, financing, support infrastructure, public policy, marketing strategies, advertisement, strategic investment, specialization and so on, which can be called as the techno-economic paradigm. Often this is described as age of mass consumption, making the products available for lot many people. These changes are also accompanied by catastrophic impact on society by causing unemployment, which causes the worry.
One of the latest innovations in the automotive industry across the globe happening is the arrival of electric cars and use of information technology and artificial intelligence. The new age car is internet connected, eco-friendly and manufactured through less-labour intensive ways. The nature of the industry has changed in such a way that countries like China and South Korea have forayed into these niche areas, it is no longer dominated by Western countries. Along with these there are other late industrialists like India and Malaysia, entered the market, it created its own model of employment and production. The new innovation is going to alter these arrangements, rendering some of the existing labour redundant, while creating new but fewer jobs. This may accentuate the jobless growth phenomenon, unless new thinking is done on the employment front. The use of robots in manufacturing, driver-less cars, battery operated vehicles replacing internal-combustion engines, etc may render a range jobs such as mechanics, petrol bunk workers, drivers jobless. The speaker cautioned on need for careful national strategy for employment while participating in the inevitable globalization process, with strategic thinking, on the lines China is showing the way.
The talk is followed by an animated discussion, where participants suggested that India has an advantage in solar energy, which can be used in charging the batteries, instead of using thermal, an advantage which Northern counties lack.
Prof. Rajashekhar, Pro-Vice Chancellor-2 presided over the lecture. Prof. Naresh Kumar Sharma, Dean, School of Economics gave the welcome. Prof. Ramana Murthy introduced the speaker and proposed the words of thanks.