With an average of 47.7 working hours every week, Indians are seventh on the list of countries that work the most globally. A 2018 International Labour Organisation (ILO) report says that only Qatar, Congo, Lesotho, Bhutan, Gambia, and the United Arab Emirates have higher average working hours than India. The ILO report holds significance, especially after Infosys co-founder Narayana Murthy’s pitch for India embracing a 70-hour work week.
When compared with the ten largest economies globally, India has the longest average work week. The ILO is even planning a special India-specific report on working hours due to this data.
As per the report, there is an inverse relationship between prosperity and weekly working hours. In other words, countries with shorter working hours tend to have higher per capita GDP. India has the highest weekly working hours among the top 10 economies and yet one of the lowest per capita GDP figures.
In contrast, France has the shortest work-week among top economies at 30.1 hours but boasts one of the highest per capita GDP figures at $55,493 (Rs 46,16,620), indicating a more productive and prosperous economy.
Recently, Narayana Murthy pointed out that India’s work productivity is lower than many other countries. He suggested that India’s younger generation adopt a 70-hour workweek, a strategy used by post-World War II Germany and Japan to boost their economies. Mr Murthy’s remarks generated a range of responses, with some supporting his idea and others expressing disagreement.
After Narayana Murthy suggested a 70-hour work week, quite a few industrialists supported his idea, saying a country like India needed its people to work more than what’s usual.
JSW Chairman Sajjan Jindal said that given India’s specific circumstances, its people should not adopt “shorter work weeks” as the norm. “I wholeheartedly endorse Mr Narayana Murthy’s statement. It’s not about burnout, it’s about dedication. We have to make India an economic superpower that we can all be proud of in India 2047,” Jindal said in a post on X.
I whole heartedly endorse Mr. Narayana Murthy’s statement. It’s not about burnout, it’s about dedication. We have to make India an economic superpower that we can all be proud of. #India2047
— Sajjan Jindal (@sajjanjindal) October 27, 2023
Similarly, Tech Mahindra MD and CEO CP Gurnani said that Narayana Murthy’s wasn’t “limited to the company.” “Have been reading about the outrage to Narayana Murthy’s 70-hour work statement… I believe when he talks of work, it’s not limited to the company… it extends to yourself and your country,” he wrote in a post on X.
“He hasn’t said work 70 hours for the company – work 40 hours for the company but work 30 hours for yourself… Invest the 10,000 hours that make one a master in one’s subject…burn the midnight oil and become an expert in your field,” Gurmani added.
Former Infosys CFO Mohandas Pai, on whose podcast Murthy made the suggestion, also backed him saying his advice was for youngsters, especially people below the age of 30.
A few others didn’t quite agree to the 70-hour work week.Shark Tank India judge and executive director of Emcure Pharmaceuticals Namita Thapar questioned the impact of long working hours on family time and mental health. ”Halloween shenanigans are always fun, kiddos & I made these goodies, @AnupamMittal if we listen to you & other experts about working 70 hours/ week (plus horrendous commute time) will we ever find time for family, creating precious memories & most importantly for mental health?” Ms Thapar wrote on X.
Halloween shananigans are always fun, kiddos & me made these goodies,@AnupamMittal if we listen to you & other experts about working 70 hour/ week (plus horrendous commute time) will we ever find time for family, creating precious memories & most importantly for mental health ????? pic.twitter.com/0NIkrfII2f
— Namita (@namitathapar) October 31, 2023
Mukesh Bansal, the founder of successful startups like Myntra and CureFit, said it is a personal choice. In a post on LinkedIn, he said, “First of all, it is a personal choice; health is important, family is important, career is important, and peace of mind is important. People need to know what matters in what priority order and then choose accordingly.”
”Companies demanding 70 hours/week need to also create proportional upside. You can’t demand 70 hours of work at 40 hours salary. That’s just not fair,” he said.