By Saumya Tiwari
Living in a country like India, reading about unemployment, poverty and degrading environmental conditions is more or less a part of our daily lives. But in the time when technology is trying to make everything automated, and our very government is launching schemes like Digital India, organizing events like Smart India Hackathon, the future we all see is partly clear.
Machinery and robots are witnessing a boom with current policies and the country will potentially witness a shift from a labour-intensive market to a capital-intensive market.
How to tackle that shift which is rendering (or might render) so many people unemployed?
But let us reflect back on our past.
Remember the Industrial Revolution? The usage of machinery was being encouraged and the loss of jobs was being cried upon. This drift from manpower to machinery has only gone forward since then. Though efforts were made to curb it, no one could.
“You must tax the robot who took your job” – Bill Gates
Now most of you must be thinking what got us of thinking about this ever-going process of advancement in technology which has made life for corporations and companies so easy. It was in action, is, and will be.
So here the news: Bill Gates says, “You must tax the robot who took your job”.
That’s a remarkable solution suggested by the richest man in the world and the CEO of the tech-giant Microsoft.
Technically, a robot is a replacement. Even though one can argue that it is not generating an income of its own to be spent elsewhere, the basic counter-argument against it remains the same – a part of the profit that the company generates is liable to government taxation.
Even though accounts might divide the cost of a machinery throughout, say ten or fifteen years, it still seems a little askew that machinery is still exempted from costs other than maintenance or obsolescence even though it generates so much income for the company.
Bill Gates, however, is very justified in this statement.
Robot taxation is an answer to many problems
However simple this statement may seem, it is the answer to many problems discussed. Let’s brief upon them:
1. Taxing robots would balance out job losses, and this money can then be used to fund training for positions where human empathy is needed, such as child care, teaching, counseling etc. With India already short of funds for such facilities, this can provide enough funds for such welfare activities.
2. Robot tax will dissuade company CEOs from firing their employees for an equivalent machine. And for developing countries like India, this can at least provide an insurance against the massive unemployment rates.
3. Robots will then be integrated with the labour force which will not only allow the workers to mingle well with technology, it will create an amiable conglomerate of labour and capital intensive system which the country lacks. We as an economy are less concerned about integration which will provide more in the longer run.
Pitfalls? Wait for them..
Of course pros are accompanied by pitfalls.
Ongoing innovation processed might take a step back. India is already deficient in research and development when it comes to technology and this policy might push us years backward.
But hey, prime objective of almost every activity done today is betterment of humanity, isn’t it? And robot tax might as well fund the research process for robots, who knows?
So concluding, robot tax seems to be the right thing to do in the journey to combat the technology-replaying-humans fiasco. A few amendments here and there would make the policy work like a charm, but as far as are we in favor of it or not? We second you, Mr. Gates.
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