What happens when India’s 5 million coders meet AI?

Apr 17, 2023, 1:09 PM UTC
2 mins read
What happens when India's 5 million coders meet AI?
(Photo by cottonbro from Pexels)

India’s 5 million-strong coding workforce could soon be facing an “AI Jobpocalypse” according to a report from Bloomberg. The growth of generative artificial intelligence and the widespread adoption of ChatGPT in particular, are seen as major drivers of this potential upheaval.

For those like Palash Hade, a recently qualified software engineer in central India, the prospect is causing anxiety. Hade has signed up for an online degree in data science and analytics from the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras in order to stand out from the crowd in the event of a downturn in traditional coding jobs.

India’s outsourcing firms have traditionally been happy to take on recruits from non-IT backgrounds, providing on-the-job training to meet demand from global customers including Wall Street banks, Silicon Valley tech companies, airlines and retailers. Tata Consultancy Services, Asia’s largest outsourcer, has made 46,000 campus offers this year, according to its COO, N. Ganapathy Subramaniam.

But many industry leaders are sounding the alarm on the impact of AI on India’s coders. At a recent guest lecture at IIT Hyderabad, CP Gurnani, CEO at Tech Mahindra and an industry veteran of four decades, told students to brace themselves for the coming changes. He is more concerned with the speed at which new opportunities will arise to replace those lost to AI, rather than if the technology will cause displacement.

Not all experts share Gurnani’s optimism, however. Professor Y Narahari, who teaches programming at India’s top engineering school, the Indian Institute of Science, suggests that while his students are likely to be the designers of systems that could rival OpenAI’s GPT models, many other engineers may not have such opportunities. Shraddha Kulkarni, a 21-year-old engineering student in Bangalore, believes that many entry-level coding jobs could disappear within five years as AI-based programming becomes the norm.

The anxiety among developers is palpable on forums like Reddit and Quora. Some express regret at the hours spent studying coding techniques that are now becoming redundant. For India’s coding workforce, the challenge of staying relevant in an age of AI is likely to be the biggest they have faced to date.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x