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Daily-current-affairs / 10 Nov 2023

The Work Hours Dilemma in India: A Comprehensive Examination : Daily News Analysis


Date : 11/11/2023

Relevance: GS Paper 3- Economy- Labour Law

Keywords: 70-Hour Workweek, Low Worker Productivity, NITI Aayog, MSMES, Demographic Dividend


A recent conversation looked into the question of whether Indians should work longer hours, sparked by Infosys founder Narayana Murthy's suggestion that young Indians should put in 70 hours a week to compete globally. The discussion covered various aspects of this proposition, considering economic, social, and practical implications.

The Context of India's Demographic Dividend-

Narayana Murthy's call for a 70-hour workweek was contextualized as a response to India's demographic dividend and its potential to harness this advantage. He emphasized the need for India to seize the opportunity presented by its large population, framing it as an inflection point for the nation.

Historical Perspective on Working Hours-

Experts brought historical context into the discussion, highlighting the International Labour Organization's standards of eight hours a day and 48 hours a week. Comparisons were drawn with post-war Germany and Japan, underscoring the unique circumstances that led to increased working hours in those nations during their periods of rapid industrialization. Comparisons between India's economy and those of Japan and Germany lack depth. The unique characteristics of each country in terms of labor force size, technological trajectories, and socio-cultural structures make arbitrary comparisons misleading. The emphasis should be on enhancing social investments, exploring domestic consumption potential, and adopting a human-centric approach to development for sustainable outcomes.

Realism of a 70-Hour Workweek-

The feasibility of a 70-hour workweek was scrutinized and pointed out the practical challenges, such as the additional time spent on commuting, highlighted the existing gender disparity in work hours. Experts echoed these concerns, cautioning against pushing workers beyond legal limits and noting the potential negative impact on unemployment, especially for women.