Aadhaar platform is a great enabler: Friedman

N. S. Vageesh Mumbai | Updated on January 09, 2018


Countering Cassandras who predict that a lot of current jobs will be lost due to the impact of automation and technological changes, Thomas Friedman, award winning author and renowned journalist of the New York Times, urged more faith in human creativity as an antidote to the pessimism that prevails.

He was speaking at the second day of the Tata Literature Live! festival this morning at a panel discussion on the book, ‘Boom Country — The new wave of Indian Entrepreneurs’ by Alan Rosling.

Power of trust

Friedman cited the example of how Airbnb, the online marketplace and hospitality service, which started in 2007 is today bigger than all hotel chains, a development that could not have been foreseen then. He pointed out that travellers are looking not only for houses to stay for short periods of time but also for ‘experiences’.

He drew attention to how Airbnb has allowed a platform for self-driven people to market their services and avail new opportunities. For instance, it has enabled enterprising youngsters to offer night tours in Mumbai. There are others who offer to teach tandoori cooking. In Havana, he said, there is someone who teaches basket ball at night for American tourists and earns a handsome $185 a night.

He said the key element in this was the creation of a platform of ‘trust’. He quoted his teacher who said, “Trust is the only legal performance enhancing drug.”

Aadhaar and opportunities

Friedman praised the Indian Government’s Aadhaar platform and called it the Indian version of Airbnb. He said that it will open up a number of opportunities as many applications can be built on it.

Expressing his optimism, he said that he was “long on India” and “long on Airbnb”. In lighter vein, he added he would pay zero attention to surveys that predicted “47.3% of all current jobs would be lost by 2050!”

Mukund Govindarajan, Chief Ethics Officer and Head of International Operations, Tata Sons, said that building trust, improving education and soft skills and fostering a culture of innovation would be important in addressing the challenge of providing jobs.

While agreeing with a co-panelist on the need to have more women entrepreneurs, he said statistics had shown women entrepreneurs tend to employ more women and therefore widen opportunities for them.

Published on November 17, 2017

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