Recently Infosys founder Narayana Murthy said that youngsters should work 70 hours a week. That’s about 14 hours a day with a full weekend off. While that sounds much, it is not really so. Students in India spend far more than 70 hours a week if you combine school + tuitions + self-study. Things may get worse in medical and engineering colleges.
There are many professions where employees put in those kinds of hours in diverse industries like consultancy and hospitality. Every company will have departments where you are slogging away day and night. Senior management is on call 24X7X365. We get up in the morning and check our mail and keep checking till we sleep late in the night. Who is really checking the actual number of hours? We do work even when we are ill and on holiday.
This is the curse of a fast-developing nation. In 10 years, we have jumped from the 10th largest economy in the world to becoming the 5th. Soon we will be the 3rd. Any fast-growing economy cannot avoid long hours. In fact, if you avoid long hours, then you will be left behind in the career race and that’s the stark reality. People are already calling it a Techade for India and there is focus on us becoming a tech and economic superpower by 2047.
America in contrast is dumbing down its education system and unburdening the load on colleges and workplaces. Activism is encouraged more among the youth than studying or doing anything productive. That can only mean the country’s decline. In China there is a movement among the youth called Tan ping or lying flat. They will not overwork or overachieve. They oppose the “996” working system which means working from 9am to 9pm 6 days a week. Interestingly that works out to be 72 hours a week. China probably peaked in the 2010s and this attitude will accelerate the decline in the 2020s.
Like it or not, the Indian youth is probably the hardest working in the world. With the way we are growing economically and upgrading technologically, it’s going to be some exciting few decades ahead. There will be no time to slack! 70 hours a week may well become the norm. It’s not whether such a thing is good or bad, but it seems more of an inevitability.