Wednesday, 26 July 2017 09:39

Minister says driverless cars will not be allowed in India

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An Indian federal minister has pledged to keep driverless cars off the country's roads due to fears that they may lead to a loss of jobs.

Nitin Gadkari, the minister for road transport and highways, was quoted as saying: "We won’t allow driverless cars in India. I am very clear on this. We won’t allow any technology that takes away jobs. In a country where you have unemployment, you can’t have a technology that ends up taking people’s jobs."

A number of countries have been testing out driverless vehicles, with Australia being among them. Companies like Google have tested out the technology and many others are following suit.

A report in the Hindustan Times said Gadkari had pointed to the fact that the country needs a total of 2.2 million commercial drivers. To meet this need, a plan had been formulated to open driver training institutes.

He said as a result of this move, half a million people would be employed over the next five years.

A bill which is pending in the upper house of India's parliament permits the testing of technology that can be used in driverless vehicles.

The relevant clause runs thus: "“In order to promote innovation and research and development in the fields of vehicular engineering, mechanically propelled vehicles and transportation in general, the central government may exempt certain types of mechanically propelled vehicles from the application of the provisions of this Act.”

The report said that automobile experts were of the view that there was a lack of consensus on the use of driverless vehicles due to the implications for employment.

It quoted Abdul Majeed, automotive leader, Price Waterhouse, as saying: "India is not immune to the debate. Today jobless growth is a big issue, but you can’t just go ahead and ban new technologies.

"There was a similar debate when computers came in. Not all technology leads to joblessness. You have to have the right balance. Technology has to co-exist.”

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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