For A Human Touch
Sathe gets an overdose of technology on his US trip
an Indian, let me begin by telling you about the things that
I do not miss when travelling abroad, especially in the United
States. I dont miss what we call public transport. No,
I definitely dont miss the 9 am wrestling match to scramble
aboard the Churchgate local. I dont miss the filth strewn
along the roads. I dont miss the dogs which chase me
as I return home at 1.30 in the night. I could go on in this
vein, but I suppose the point is clear.
What I do miss, during my travels abroad, is the human touch.
Literally, as in someone touching you. I would not be exaggerating
too much if I say that during my recent trip to the United
States, I was pining for someone to touch me.
Before you jump into the conclusion that the country is full
of racists, dont. I am talking about machines making
human interaction obsolete. At every step of my way, when
I expected a smiling human being, what I got was a button
with circuits attached.
toll nakas of interstate freeways, intelligent collection
baskets recognised how many coins I had dropped in and then
allowed me to pass. If you are a regular traveller, scanners
check the bar coded piece of sticker on the windscreen and
sends you statements home after your advance payments are
exhausted. If you are lucky, you might come across one or
two lanes for the technologically challenged.
Parking Lot entrances had a machine which handed me a slip,
registered my entrance time and then as I left collected what
was due. Similarly at railway stations. No serpentine queues.
Ticket dispensing machines not only handed me my ticket but
also were smart enough to count how much I had given and returned
me the change. And, of course, when I was thirsty and started
searching for a nimbu paniwallah, I found soda dispensing
machines at every corner.
Lest you think that the whole nation hates human labour, let
me make it clear that there are sound economic reasons for
such a surfeit of technology. People are costly in the US.
Middle level managers in a project can cost any company up
to a million dollars annually. Even assembly line unskilled
labour needs to be paid starting rates of around US$ 6 per
hour which adds up to US$ 50 per shift per person. Thats
about Rs 2500 a day in Indian currency.
is cheaper and more convenient for business to invest in technology.
Some salient reasons why:
Machines can work for 24 hours
Machines dont feel hungry
Machines dont get sloshed on weekends and bunk office
Machines dont sue you for equal opportunities
Machines dont ask for a raise every year
Machines dont need health insurance (a horribly expensive
thing in the US)
Be that as it may, I still miss the human touch. Wonder when
they will make a machine which gives you that.