• The theory of “Natural Selection”, as specified by the 19th century modern biologist Darwin, also used as a synonym to “survival of the fittest”, coined by Herbert Spencer to draw comparison between the economic theory and the biological one, is the process of preservation of favored races in their struggle for life. Who is really favored in this race? Darwin explains -

    “This preservation, during the battle of life, of varieties which possess any advantage in structures, constitution, or instinct. I have called Natural selection; and Mr. Herbert Spencer has well expressed the same idea by the survival of the fittest.” [1]

    As this race navigates in different spheres of life, it can easily abstract the theory of evolution/ natural selection/ survival of fittest into multiple different fields – mathematics, chemistry, computer science, IT and pretty much every other field which studies changes over time.

    The 4th industrial revolution is around the corner with a wave of technologies[2] (Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Mobile computing, Cloud Computing, Robotics and Automation, etc.) knocking the door of every industry such as Financial sector, education, health, agriculture, energy, infrastructure, government service delivery system, etc. The changes predicted by this wave is projected to be at an exponential rate, whose affects will not be localized but globalized. India is at a stature of having the youngest population in the ageing world, By 2020, the median age in India will be just 28, compared to 37 in China and the US, 45 in Western Europe, and 49 in Japan[3]. Demographics can change the pace and pattern of economic growth. While China’s spectacular growth has already benefited from a demographic dividend, India is yet to do so. But is the young population ready to sail in the tide of change, did it adapt well to the changing tide, are they the fittest in this journey to cope up with change, and will they survive in the changing structures and constitutions?

    History

    19th century Britain saw rise of the secret oath based radical organization of English textile workers - Luddites, who destroyed factories and machines as a form of protest against the 1st Industrial revolution to protect their livelihood. Their protest was designed against layoffs and business owners who replaced them with machines. This story narrates the shadow that automation or change creates, which generates fear of mass joblessness and loss of livelihood.[4][5][6]

    In the 1980s, the age of personal computers created a wave of “Computer phobia”[7], which saw people depicting a range of resistance, fears, anxieties, and hostilities. The fear erupting out of the feeling that you can be replaced by a machine, become slave to it, or feeling aggressive towards computers. This moved into the 1990s creating another technological anxiety – the cyber space. [8]

    Present -

    The previous three revolutions came with their own anxieties, job scare, livelihood issue, skills being irrelevant, etc. The fourth revolution has its own features and is totally unique in its characteristics – being exponential in growth and not localized to any industry. McKinsey Global Institute report suggests that by 2030 intelligent agents and robots could eliminate as much as 30% of world’s human labor. Automation will displace between 400 and 800 million jobs by 2030, requiring as many as 375 million people to switch job categories entirely[9][10]. The impending civil chaos does not seem distant. The executives of top companies put skilling in their top 10 priorities to train their existing workforce for the up tide, so that they stay relevant. [11]

    Prime Minister Modi’s dream is to make India the global capital of skilled resource. He also pointed out that demographic dividend will become an issue to tackle if not dealt well[12]. For this, extensive skilling is needed to tackle global challenges. While the government has taken policy decisions to address some skilling challenges – Skill India, PMKVY (Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana), RPL (Recognition of Prior Learning), etc. These schemes do not address the upcoming hurricane of disruptive technologies. India today falls behind to provide a common platform to train its young population on futuristic technology. These technologies will require a higher cognitive capability and effort that will require time and a lot of energy. Extensive planning and policy initiatives needs to be in place for this to answer this urgent need to skilling and up skilling people.

    References :

  • In 4 years, India will have the world’s largest population of working people, about 87 crore in all. India’s capability to utilize the opportunity that the projected demographic dividend is going to give is not assured.

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  • Well…while growing from student to employee is a long journey. The journey may not be the same for every individual and every generation. Our way of imparting education and learning also have changed dramatically so much in last 3 decades, with advent of computers, Internet and its access in acquiring of knowledge and information on any topic through various sources have started disrupting our classroom learning experience.

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  • Gone are the days when classroom learning was considered as the prime delivery method of learning and development. While it still remains irreplaceable in many learning situations, organizations are now depending more on online learning solutions to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse and multi-generational workforce.

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