Bots May Take A Fifth Of Our Jobs


The cryptocurrency Bitcoin’s value shot through the roof. The skeptics think its a bubble that could burst. While in the world of automation, a fifth of human jobs would be lost by 2030, as per a study. Nestle is in hot water again, thanks to maggie noodles. And net profit of 25 Nifty stocks went up in double digits in last quarter. This is the fastest pace in six quarters.



What is it? The highest price that cryptocurrency Bitcoin scaled on a wild day of trading on Wednesday, according to Coindesk. Bitcoin pierced both the $10,000 and $11,000 marks, hit a low of $9,290 and closed at $9,719, amid trading outages.

Why is it important? At its highest price, Bitcoin would have recorded an 11-fold rise since the beginning of the year, resulting in the multiplication of warnings from skeptics that it could be a speculative bubble that could burst. Some others suggest the Bitcoin is unique as an asset class and its rise is not going to end anytime soon.

Tell me more: As the rally in Bitcoin gained pace, so did the banter. Tesla founder Elon Musk clarified he wasn’t fuelling its rise and musician Katy Perry asked Warren Buffett, the most insightful investor of our times, on what he thought about Bitcoin.


800 million

What is it? The estimated number of people who might lose their jobs to robots and automation by 2030, according to a report by McKinsey Global Institute.

Why is it important? This is over a fifth of the current global workforce and indicative of the impending drastic changes in employment and livelihoods. Machine operators, fast-food workers and back-office employees are among projected to be the most affected in both developed and emerging countries, if automation spreads fast enough. The silver lining in this is that those displaced would find other jobs but they would have to re-skill themselves.

Tell me more: A World Bank report released last year forecasted that 69% of jobs in India could be threatened by automation. However, the Indian government says the growth momentum of the economy would result in job opportunities and absorption of displaced labour.



What is it? The average rate at which net profits of 25 companies (the data for which was available) in the 50-share NSE Nifty grew in the July-September quarter, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon data.

Why is it important? This is the fastest pace in six quarters (since a 31% growth in January-March 2016), a likely sign of recovery after a period of sluggish economic growth in the last few quarters. This could spur private investment, which continues to remain sluggish. The companies’ performance also indicates they managed to weather the impact of the government’s demonetisation move in November 2016 and the transition to the goods and services tax regime from July this year.

Tell me more: According to the data, the total profits of the companies is expected to grow 25% in 2018-19, which would be the highest in Asia.


Rs 45 lakh

What is it? The penalty imposed on Nestle India after samples of its popular Maggi noodles tested positive for high levels of ash content in a food-testing laboratory in Uttar Pradesh.

Why is it important? This is reminiscent of the trouble the firm landed two years ago when a laboratory in the same state had found excessive lead content in some samples of Maggi noodles that led to a furore, following which the government banned the product. The company had destroyed 37,000 tonnes of noodles and ended up losing more than Rs 500 crore due to the ban. In reaction to the latest lab report, Nestle India has maintained that ash is not added to their product, the samples date back to 2015 and that incorrect standards have been applied to the testing of the samples.

Tell me more: The district administration of Shahjahanpur in Uttar Pradesh has also imposed fines on Nestle India’s three distributors (Rs 15 lakh) and on two of its sellers (Rs 11 lakh).


33 years

What is it? The number of years after which iconic Italian car manufacturer Alfa Romeo will return to Formula 1 motor racing in 2018.

Why is it important? On Wednesday, it was announced a multi-year technical and commercial partnership with the Sauber F1 Team. Car manufacturers have had an up-and-down relationship with Formula 1. In the last two decades, Ford, Toyota and Peugeot have quit, and Honda’s return has not gone as planned. In that sense, Alfa Romeo’s return comes a shot in the arm for the sport.

Tell me more: Alfa Romeo was a dominant force in the early years of Formula 1. It served an engine supplier for several teams from 1961 until 1979, before returning with a works team from 1979 to 1985.


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News in Numbers, Jun 7, 2016: Wipro’s automation move, India gets back 200 artifacts…


What is it? The number of computer engineers who will be freed up this year due to Wipro’s use of its artificial intelligence platform Holmes. The platform Holmes would be used to automate some tasks of fixed-price projects.

Why is it important? An early indicator of how automation can impact jobs in one of the highest paying sectors in the country. For the companies it can cut down labour costs – the move will save Wipro up to $46.5 million. Other IT firms TCS and Infosys are also working with their artificial intelligence systems to boost revenue per employee and profitability figures.

Tell me more: Wipro plans to sell the platform to existing and new clients to earn about $60-70 million.  



What is it? Median monthly generic drug price in India, according to a study of cancer drug prices in seven countries.

Why is it important? While this is among the lowest in the world, in terms of affordability, it is among the most expensive. The cost of generics as a percentage of domestic product per capita at purchasing power parity is 33% in India. Cancer drug prices are the highest in the US where the median monthly price for generics is $654 or 14% of wealth adjusted for cost of living.

Tell me more: In case of branded drugs, the situation is even worse in India. The median monthly price of branded drugs is $1,515 , which is 313% of domestic product per capita at purchasing power parity.


Rs 30,000 crore

What is it? State owned NTPC Ltd’s proposed investment in 2016-17, part of which would go towards stepping up its renewable energy generation.

Why is it important? It is likely to help the country achieve its target of meeting 40% of its energy demands from non-fossil fuels (such as nuclear, wind, water and solar) by 2030. NTPC is reviewing its long-term plans of achieving 128 GW of capacity by 2032, of which over a tenth is to be accounted for by renewable energy.

Tell me more: NTPC, which accounts for a sixth of India’s power capacity, plans to add 1,000 MW of wind power in the current fiscal and to produce 10% of India’s target of installing 100 GW of solar capacity by 2022. NTPC will raise Rs 20,000 crore in debt, of which Rs 7,000 crore would be from overseas lenders.


2.18 acres

What is it? The area of land Indian government has allotted for the development of a naval detachment on Bitra island in Lakshadweep.

Why is it important? It will help government increase its military presence on the eastern and western coasts as it jostles with China to exert greater influence over the important Indian Ocean region and protect its maritime interests. Both the countries are improving their infrastructure and bettering their relations with smaller countries such as Bangladesh, Maldives and Sri Lanka, which also have strategic interests in the region.

Tell me more:  It is also establishing/upgrading its naval detachments on remote islands such as Kavaratti, Minicoy and Agatti and setting up military bases at Tuticorin (Tamil Nadu) and Paradip (Odisha).



What is it? Number of stolen artifacts the US returned to the Indian government on Monday.

Why is it important? Most of them were recovered from a decade-old ‘Operation Hidden Idol’, which led to the arrest of six people and recoveries of items worth $100 million. The artifacts, some of them that date back to 2,000 years, were stolen from India’s most valued religious sites.

Tell me more: The US has returned over 7,500 artifacts to different countries in the last 10 years.

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News in Numbers – September 7, 2015

News In Numbers: September 7, 2015



The extent by which India’s gross domestic product (GDP) would expand if India were to have as many women workers as men workers, according to International Monetary Fund estimates. Speaking at the launch of W20, a gathering of women leaders from the world’s largest economies, including India, IMF chief Christine Lagarde said the equivalent numbers for US and Japan were just 5% and 9%, respectively. Though women account for 48.5% of India’s population, gender inequality exists in most dimensions. However, recently, India has managed to bring down gender parity in schools, where the girls-to-boy ratio in primary classes is 1.02 and 0.94 in secondary schools. Overall, India ranks a poor 127 in the United Nations Gender Inequality Index for 2013.



Percentage of respondents in a survey by industry body Ficci that are likely to plan capacity addition in manufacturing in the next six months. The current subdued investment in manufacturing is mainly attributed to delay in clearances, poor demand and high interest rates. The respondents were from 386 manufacturing units of all sizes. The survey also says that hiring will remain muted, with 79% of respondents not planning to add workers in the next three months. The number of jobs created in manufacturing declined by 4% in 2012-13, over 2011-12, according to Assocham Economic Research Bureau.  Although the growth of Indian manufacturing has been sluggish, it is the only country (besides Vietnam) that has showed expansion in August from the previous month among emerging market Asian economies.



The percentage increase in entry-level salaries of engineering graduates who will join TCS and Cognizant Technology next year. This is the first time IT companies have increased salaries of entry-level engineers in about seven years, which was stagnant at about Rs 3 lakh per year. Brokerage firm Kotak Institutional Equities estimates that this would impact the companies’ profit margins by 0.25 percentage points in 2016-17 and their earnings per share by 1-2%. IT industry grouping Nasscom estimates technology majors will hire only 30,000 people in 2015-16, 13% fewer than 2014-15. With IT companies looking at automation and other ways to reduce cost, the excess supply of engineering graduates is likely to remain a problem.


Rs 37.22 crore

The amount Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s overseas trips have cost the exchequer, between June 2014 and June 2015. Although Modi visited 20 countries, expenses related to 16 countries were provided to an RTI (Right to Information) application. About 40% of this amount was spent on two trips: Australia and the US. In his first year as Prime Minister, Modi allocated 14.5% of his tenure to visit 17 countries, while his predecessor Manmohan Singh spent 12.9% of his tenure to visit 12 countries in his first year. Of the total inflow of foreign investment in 2014-15, India received about 26.1% foreign direct investment from 12 countries visited by Modi in the same period. Indian companies invested over 53% of the total outflow of foreign investment in 2014-15 in these 12 countries.



The estimated number of leopards in India, according the first ever census of the country’s leopards. The census did not cover Gujarat, parts of Rajasthan, and eastern and northeastern parts. Leopards were counted using the same methods as those employed for estimating India’s tiger population: camera-trapping and gathering other evidence of their presence. Madhya Pradesh has the highest estimate of leopards (1,817), followed by Karnataka (1,129) and Maharashtra (905). The lead scientist of the tiger census, who presented the leopard figures last week, said there was no way of knowing whether their numbers have increased or decreased. A recent study by three wildlife scientists estimated a 70-80% decline in the leopard population in the last 100 years.



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Automatic is not yet the manual for Indian IT industry

This piece originally appeared on Livemint.com


Tech executives have increased their decibel levels on automation in information technology (IT) services and industry observers are wondering how much will it reduce hiring in a sector that accounts for about a quarter of employment in the organized private sector in India.

However, the absolute revenue and employee numbers of Indian IT services offer a sobering counter-balance to the automation euphoria. Revenue and employee numbers continue to be in line, their growth mirroring each other (graph 1).

Further, even with a nine-fold increase in IT exports in the last 11 years, revenue per employee has, more or less, remained flat (graph 2).

The numbers for 2013-14 show revenue growth outpacing employee growth, but it’s difficult to attribute it all to automation. There’s another factor at play: employee utilization rate, or the percentage of an IT company’s workforce that worked on projects during the period.




As the demand for IT services became unpredictable following the 2008 economic crisis, IT companies started tweaking their utilization rates to cut costs and maintain operating margins. When demand increased, rather than hire more and add costs, they used more of their bench strength, as reflected in the higher utilization rates (graph 3).

IT hiring continues to be more a function of demand for IT services and utilization rates. That doesn’t mean automation will have no impact on hiring. It will. But the IT sector is not there as yet.




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