Mapping the Future

The Budget

Published On : 1st February, 2018

There are a few things that unite all the stakeholders of society like the announcement of the country’s budget. The 2018 budget brought to my attention the various sectors it affects, and also, gave us all an idea of the nation the politicians wish to build.

The government is clearly futuristic in its approach. Amitabh Kant-led Niti Aayog will establish a National Programme to direct efforts in the area of Artificial Intelligence towards national development. There has been an increased allocation of resources to research and development. Block chain technology is potentially on the cards.

However, while there is a national emphasis on AI, VR, Robotics, 3-D printing, and IOT, the government is also empathetic to the plight of its people. The budget allocation to the Digital India scheme has been doubled, but simultaneously there is a discussion on ‘Diksha’ online training portals for teachers.

The leaders of the nation have recognized the need for new skills in light of new technology innovation. In my opinion a combination of both technical expertise and a consideration for humanity will eventually amalgamate into what I call the “New Humanities”. The future generations will be defined by this new social science that will be crucial to social and economic development.

For example; in healthcare, our finance minister has proposed 24 new government colleges and hospitals to train doctors and provide better healthcare. Maybe in the future they will require a different type of training altogether. Perhaps, in 10 or 20 years’ time, India too will use drones to supply medicine to hospitals in a model similar to the one developed by Zipline which has been delivering supplies to health clinics via drones in Rwanda since 2016. In such a case, the citizens would need to learn new skills, like machine recognition, that enable them to identify these drones and retrieve the supplies. It is an accepted fact that technology often surpasses the industry, in all likelihood there will be innovations that are superior still. What skills will be required then?

I believe one of the foundation blocks of New Humanities is empathy, the other two being machine recognition and spirituality. Empathy is the reason for the precision required when drafting the budget. This year, the budget for health, education, and social security has been increased to Rs. 1.38 lakh crore from Rs. 1.22 lakh crore. The allocation of National Livelihood Mission is now Rs. 5750 crores. The national leaders appear to understand that humanity as a whole is undergoing a transformation. The new conditions in the budget are their way of ensuring that India matches the pace of the other countries. Will future leaders show us the same compassion? I am optimistic that the answer is a resounding “Yes”.

From a perspective of a government that cares about its people, the topic now entails answering questions such as; should the soon-to-be-automated industries compensate employees monetarily for a loss of desired and valued work? Or will it create an unforeseen environment of listless existence for all humans? This is the essence of an ongoing debate around Universal Basic Salary , the right to a default salary for every adult, whether they are working or not. Allocated to citizen irrespective even of whether they want to work or not. I believe this concept will definitely be given some consideration in future budgets.

The state is aware of the impact the budget has on the lives of Indians across borders, and members of Lok Sabha feel a kinship with those it affects. These are human elements that will remain steady in the changing world, also defining it as the results of the actions planned in the budget become more visible.