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Outworking the West: India takes its own way

Published time: July 16, 2011 05:00
Edited time: July 16, 2011 09:20

Indians know all too well - if you want the best in life, you have to put the hours in. And so they are reaping the benefits by working harder and longer than their Western counterparts.

­India is a rising economic locomotive. So what is the driving force behind its success?

It could very well be the people like Neil and Kuna. Both are co-directors of a small wine-import company called De-vine, and as Indians have developed a strong liking for French and Spanish vintages, young men are working overtime to fill their glasses.

“You have to be very flexible with your working hours. You are dealing with so many people from abroad, especially American and Europe. So we cannot keep fixed timings, we cannot work from nine to five” said Neil Bhatnagar, co-director of De-vine.

But people in Britain, for example, can and do say that. Stefan spent years working as a business consultant in the UK and he says Brits watch that clock closely.

“In Britain people leave at five o’clock and they will not stay late because they have a train to catch. I have worked for many years in Britain and there people do not work weekends. It is changing a little bit now, particularly in the periods of economic recession, but generally it is Monday to Friday,” said Stefan Kaye, a music producer.

As recently as just two years ago, India had a six-day working week. The government has put in strict regulations regarding labor hours, but that does not stop people from spending more time in the office than needed.

“I have noticed a most significant difference between the work culture in India and in Britain. It is the pressure people are under to work above and beyond their contracted hours. Everyone will do this in India, irrespective of whether there is work to be done,” explained Kaye.

If there is a small enterprise to run, then all state regulations go out of the window. If sacrifices equal success, then you have to make them.

“I am working 24/7. I work on Sundays, Saturdays. I am always in the office because orders need to be processed, testing should be organized, so my personal life is non-existent,” said Kunal Mehta, co-director of De-vine.  
But what may seem a fine example of dedication may actually be a drawback.

“In the office people are expected to do the job of two or three people. This is not always such a good thing, because if you work such long hours, it is going to affect your performance,” added Kaye.

While Europe and the US spend their money on fighting wars and their time on trying to figure out a way to get out of economic slump, India is busy getting things done, the Indian way – paying long hours of hard labor, which always pays off in the end.

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