National holidays and work weeks are not always an indication of how hard people work
Yesterday was Gandhi Jayanti, one of the three national holidays that we have. The other two are Independence Day and Republic Day.
Is that all?
Yep, because a national holiday is “simply a statutory holiday enacted by a country to commemorate the country itself”. It can also be called a legal holiday or a public holiday.
If we compare India’s three measly national holidays to the national holidays of the world, India looks good, in the sense of taking very few holidays.
But as we all know, this number three is misleading. As it says here:
India has a paltry three national holidays, but celebrates festivals of various faiths. If you’re flexible when it comes to religion, you might persuade your bosses to do without you for the Hindu festivals of Diwali, Ganesh Chaturthi and Holi, and the Muslim festivals of Eid-ul-Fitr, Eid-ul-Adha and Ramadan, making a total of 32 days, plus further regional days.
So do we have to reconcile ourselves to the fact that we aren’t workaholics like the Brits? The minimum number of holidays that Indians get are given here and they are at least 15.
We could be workaholics after all!
But wait, this isn’t the end of the story. Lots of people in India work saturdays. Sure, multi-nationals, technology companies, banks and many schools give a five day week, but government offices work two saturdays a month (half-days). Many colleges work saturdays and so do many private companies. Some work five and a half days.
But in any case, these official work timings are only on paper, at least in India. As I had written in a previous post, people tend to work much harder in actuality…most of the time voluntarily. 12 hour days are common. So is working at home on Sundays or going to see ‘what’s happening’ in the office on Saturdays.
Few people follow office timings strictly, not unless they want to be get left behind. Staying late at the office has become a method of proving one’s efficiency and/or sincerity! Week-ends unfortunately aren’t sacrosanct in India. This is why it is difficult to compare our official working hours per week (which can add up to 40 hours a week) with the rest of the world.
As far as I know Europeans do think of their week-ends as sacrosanct, although I have read that in the United States its less so and few people follow the 40 hour work week.
Interestingly, another growing economy like ours, China, has a five day week – 8 hours per day with a maximum of 44 hours per week allowed. I have a strong feeling that just like in India, Chinese employees work much harder than the mandatory hours laid down. However China has implemented a system which makes it mandatory for employers to give 8-10 days off holidays thrice a year. This annual holiday thing has led to a huge increase in domestic tourism!
One needs these kind of breaks…!
Too much work is making people sick
In India, the pace at which people work is causing major health problems (which I will be writing about in another post). Workaholism is so much a part and parcel of society that people who leave the office at five can become the laughing stock, unless they are in a clerical job. These are the cultural attitudes here. Its a culture similar to other Asian countries like South Korea.
Apparently, now South Korea has banned a 6- day week, but its likely that people still put in long hours. The term ‘death by work’ is a recognized illness, both in South Korea and Japan. The Japanese work very long hours too, although their work hours have decreased.
Are we moving in the opposite direction?
I wish we could all move towards a compulsory five day week, but unfortunately we may be moving in the opposite direction! With the dollar falling against the rupee, profits have decreased for our technology companies, and to make up the business losses, technology companies are thinking of revoking their official five day weeks! The plan is to do it gradually, maybe start with those working on new projects or with new recruits. And offer additional payment…
It does seem as if we are going backwards as some countries in Europe work just 35-40 hours and four days a week. And they take it seriously. Accepting official calls is a no-no on week-ends, but in India not accepting an official call is disapproved of. Hardly anyone does it anyway…
But on another note, going to the office on saturdays is usually fine with people as long as its voluntary, even though it is due to pressure from society and the work culture prevalent around them. When saturdays become official working days, people might grumble, specially those who are used to taking full week-ends off once a month at the very least. I guess they can console themselves by thinking of the thousands of their countrymen who put in six days and 12 hours a day in any case.
(Graph from the Economist)