Working hours and work
Editorial

Working hours and work

The air is abuzz with claims of the incumbent government at the Centre, in the august company of the State government, in addressing the enduring problem of unemployment by creating the frequently revised number of jobs stated as so many millions in both organised and unorganised sectors of the economy even as those claims continue to be considered as suspect by both detractors of the political party and, at the helm others in informed circles among the country’s academics as well as various outfits whose members in large numbers are the real aspirants for reasonably comfortable livelihood with assured income. The key figure relating to the plight of the country’s masses, bugged by poverty with jobs coming their way from nowhere, namely the land’s unemployment rate, showing no sign of abating even marginally year on year, stated in single digit with decimal may create an impeccable impression on the accuracy and veracity of the estimates of unemployment. However, the target sections in the population, including those with degrees and diplomas from various Universities, continue to be in dire straits.

The most conspicuously ignored sections of the nation’s workforce unarguably the crores of women who are toiling in the agricultural fields from the point of planting the saplings of food crops to the point of harvesting, threshing and winnowing before the produce in transported from the fields. The home-makers keep them august company in bearing the brunt of assuaging hunger of the nation’s diaspora making no bones about the intimate connect between work and working hours.

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The proportion of the land’s workforce classified as a mass in unorganised part in the country’s total working population is estimated at 90 per cent and said to account for more than 50 per cent of the nation’s gross domestic product. The public image of the ethos towards work on the part of the rest, particularly the white-collared fraternity being what it is, one is at a loss to estimate the extent of their contribution to the country’s economy in monetary terms. This section of the workforce is more focussed on their rights than their responsibilities to the nation’s people, barring exceptions.

On the basis of periodic labour force survey by the National Sample Survey Office, it is made out that India is among the countries where people devote the longest hours at work on an average, compared to their global counterpart. If a countrywide referendum is made to generate the perceived work ethics of the government employees across the country, what it may reveal is a disconnect between working hours and work output. In case the measure sees them in good light, the nation should feel gratified.

March 6, 2019

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