When India’s ‘white industries’ grow fast, its economy will have to adapt

India’s “white industries” will be able to grow quickly and its economy to adapt to a new era of automation, according to the country’s top technology and technology advisory firm.

In a note published in The Hindu on Tuesday, PwC India said India’s white industries would likely grow to a level not seen in more than 15 years, as the country shifts away from manual labour.

It said India would be “a global hub for the white-collar sector” by 2035, with India’s total employment expected to exceed 4 million, as part of a larger “knowledge economy” that includes software, services, health care, education and finance.

PwC has forecast that the number of jobs in these sectors will grow by about 10 per cent annually.

India is home to more than 3 million people who are white-skilled in industries ranging from manufacturing to accounting.

The country’s technology, financial services and IT sector has been growing steadily over the past decade, as India has become the world’s fastest-growing economy.

However, as technology and financial services have become a key driver of economic growth, India’s manufacturing sector has shrunk by about 25 per cent over the last decade.

According to PwS, India will need to find “sustainable solutions” to support these industries.PWC’s India Outlooks said that as automation spreads and technology becomes more prevalent, “it will be imperative that the industries that are most affected by this transition (in manufacturing) are also the ones that are the most likely to survive it”.

The outlook for Indian technology and tech firms, however, was mixed.

PwCI India said it would not see a return to a situation where “only the tech giants are growing fast, while the rest of the sectors, like the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), remain stagnant”.

In the past, PWCI India has forecast the sector would continue to grow at around 8 per cent per annum, “although it is expected that the average annual growth rate will slow slightly”.

The firm said India, which accounts for about 20 per cent of global digital manufacturing and services activity, would remain “a major global hub of the information and communication technology (ICT) and the information, communication and entertainment industries (ICTEG).”

PwCI noted that India has seen a “large number of outsourcing and digitalization” since 2000, “particularly in the health care and pharmaceutical sectors”.

“This trend is likely to continue as Indian IT and digital industries are seen as being increasingly important in this sector,” it added.

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