While global economies are going whole hog with automated technologies, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari displayed his administrative experience as he said that currently, the country has graver problems of employment to deal with than promulgation of automated cars.
Delivering a speech at the second edition of News18’s Tech and Auto Awards, the senior BJP leader and minister for roads and highways said, “driverless cars cannot be allowed now. India first needs to provide jobs to everybody. I am open to discussion but I don’t think that is a priority now.”
The award show that honoured tech and automotive innovations in the country was attended by the country’s top tech and auto honchos.
Further elaborating his point, Gadkari said, “The need of the hour is electric vehicles that are less polluting and more energy-efficient than cars running on conventional fossil fuels.”
The minister also raised concerns about self-driving cars taking over the jobs of cab drivers in the country.
Identifying manpower as one of India’s biggest strengths, Gadkari added, “We need technology, innovation, entrepreneurship, and electronics. But, at the same time, we have to protect the employment of the country’s youth.”
Driver shortage is a major problem in rural and tribal areas. According to a 2016 report by financial services firm Avendus, the acute scarcity of skilled drivers could hit 50 percent by 2020.
Gadkari further elucidated that there is a shortage of more than 2.2 million drivers in India at present.
As per reports, the global self-driving car market is expected to cross $65.3 billion by 2027. At present, the United States constitutes the largest market share at 39.08% and is poised to reach $24.04 billion by 2027. Compared to that, the sale of electric vehicles in India has soared by 37.5 percent in recent years, as per a report by the Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles.
A couple of months back, Infosys announced that it had built India’s first indigenous driverless car. The then CEO & Managing Director of Infosys, Vishal Sikka showcased the futuristic driverless cart during a media briefing by the company in July.
Currently, the market is dominated by big players like Mercedes-Benz, General Motors, BMW, Toyota, and Tesla. In recent years, Internet-based companies Google and Uber have also forayed into the realm of driverless vehicles, Google with Waymo and Uber with Uber ATG. In India, Tata Elxsi, the Tata Group’s design and technology firm, has been working on self-driving cars.
With the government focussing more on turning India into a 100 percent electric vehicles by 2030, the fate of driverless cars in the country, as stated by Nitin Gadkari, remains uncertain.