Kangana Ranaut Stirs Debate On 'Obsessive Work Culture'; 'Stop Waiting For The Weekends'

The hustle culture debate in India intensifies as actor-turned-MP Kangana Ranaut demands normalising "obsessive work culture". Last year, Infosys founder N.R. Narayana Murthy's suggestion for 70-hour work weeks led to massive debate. Nilesh Shah and other leaders propose even longer hours to boost growth. But why isn't anybody talking about health risks and arguing for better pay and worker well-being? What about the importance of work-life balance?
Newly Elected MP Kangana Ranaut Shares Group Pic Of PM Modi, Amit Shah, Nitish Kumar, Chandrababu Naidu From NDA Meet.

Kangana Ranaut

The hustle culture has found another cheerleader in actor-turned-MP Kangana Ranaut. After software billionaire and founder of Infosys, N.R. Narayana Murthy, started the big debate by asking youngsters to work for 70 hours a week, Kangana is now urging people to "normalise obsessive work culture." In response to a video of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Kangana wrote, "We need to normalise obsessive work culture and stop waiting for the weekends and cribbing about Mondays. That’s all Western brainwashing. We are not a developed nation yet; we can’t afford to be bored and lazy at all." (sic)
Just recently, Kotak Mahindra Asset Management Company's managing director, Nilesh Shah, recommended an 84-hour work week for India during a podcast Invest Aaj For Kal with Anant Ladha. The clip went viral, in which he is heard saying, "Charlie Munger wrote in one of his books that people in Korea worked 84 hours a week for one generation. That means 12 hours a day, every day, every month, every year." He said the 84-hour work week would "accelerate the country's growth" and help people to move to "middle and upper-income levels."
In 2022, Shantanu Deshpande, founder of Bombay Shaving Company, faced online flak when he wrote a post on LinkedIn suggesting 18-hour work days in the early stages of one's career. He also said, "Don’t do random rona-dhona. Take it on the chin and be relentless. You will be way better for it."
Cp Gurnani, former MD and CEO of Tech Mahindra had tweeted in support of Narayana Murthy. "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 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. THAT is 70 hours of work which can differentiate you as a youngster and, in the process, your country." (sic)
In India, there are ongoing debates about working longer hours, but nobody is discussing better pay and perks in the professional space. While the argument of "not being a developed country" is raised every time, has anybody stopped to think about the well-being of the workers? Working long hours is often considered a badge of honour.
In 2021, the WHO and the International Labour Organization (ILO) released the WHO/ILO Joint Estimates of the Work-related Burden of Disease and Injury. According to the report, "488 million people worldwide have long working hours, and more than 745,000 people died in 2016 from heart disease and stroke related to working more than 55 hours per week. These figures make long working hours one of the biggest occupational health hazards." In Japan, overworking is so common that there is a legal term, karoshi, which means death by overwork, to describe the cause of death. So, do longer work hours really translate into higher productivity?
China the world's second largest economy has the brutal "996" work culture. The controversial 996 culture refers to a system in which employees report to work from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm, six days per week, for a total of 72 work hours rendered for their employers. It was deemed illegal after many deaths were reported due to workers being overworked. But companies still expect people to put in long hours.
And, while every other day someone wants Indians to work long hours, developed countries that value their workers have been implementing a 4-day workweek culture. Some of these countries include Belgium, the Netherlands, and Denmark.
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