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 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.
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.”