Broke & Ruined : The plight of India’s workaholics explained through the eyes of an ex-workaholic

I’m a 31 year old male, bachelor who was born & is residing in a certain Gujarati town. I’m currently jobless, except that I’m volunteering for a certain non-profit, religious organization in my hometown, for 8 hours a day, which provides me a humble rupees 8000/month stipend and a one-time meal!
Since I didn’t graduate for a very long time; It proved to be very difficult for me to find stable employment. All I ever wanted from my job was a decent salary, and an 8 hour work day, 1 hour lunch-break, and 1 weekly-off every week. But I must’ve switched at least 5 to 6 jobs up till now, and in all of those jobs they made me work either for 10 hours, 11 hours, or 12 hours every day (and sometimes even 13 to 14 hours every day), but never for 8 hours, and that too at a very less salary. In all of those jobs; I never got regular weekly offs, as all of my employers always found some excuse to make me work for an entire week, and sometimes even for 1 or 2 weeks more!
To give you an example; I was once working as an apparel salesman for a small garment shop in my Gujarati town. As I desperately needed some job (Since I come from a financially weak family); I agreed to be a salesman for that garment shop. But the owner of that garment-shop made me work for 12 hours straight every day (with 1 hour break), without any weekly-offs, for just 9000/month. When I asked him about weekly-offs he told me that it is the policy of his privately owned garment shop, to provide weekly-offs on every alternate Sunday (i.e. after every 14 days), only after a worker completes a one-year, working in that shop. Just imagine what it must’ve been like for me!
Or how about when I was once working for a certain automobile dealership in my town? There too, they made me work for 9.5 to 10 hours every day, and even they provided me weekly-offs only on every alternate Sunday i.e after every 14 days, at a very less salary. But if this wasn’t enough, my sales manager and one of my team-leaders behaved like some sort of mob-enforcers with me. Since it was a sales job, the only thing they cared about was generating more & more profits! They’d often shout out at me in front of the entire staff, if I wasn’t able to achieve their desired sales-targets. My sales manager even repeatedly threatened to fire me if I didn’t give him the desired sales-figures. It was a kind of place where, if you aren’t able to sell more & more cars, you’re made to feel like you’ve murdered someone!
Then consider this job of mine, during which I was a worker for a certain reputed factory in my town. In there too the norm of the work was 11 hours per day, at a very less salary, and no fixed weekly off! There was even close to no ‘division of labor’ in this factory. Because their managers would make you do any & every kind of excruciating physical work for as much as they want, even though you were hired for a totally different type of job.
There was even VIP Culture in this factory. I’ve been using a Western-Style Toilet in my home for the past 12–13 years. So now if I have to squat in an Indian-Style Toilet, for taking a dump, my legs start aching badly only after a few minutes, and I find it very painful to get back in a normal position. So I did not know about the rules at this factory; and one-day I felt the urge to empty my bowels, and I decided to use a Western-Style Toilet at this factory. But when I was coming out, after refreshing myself, one of my managers catched me in the washroom lobby! He stopped me in my tracks, and started shouting at me for simply using a ‘Western-Style-Toilet’! I told him about my condition, but he literally threatened me that he would inflict a heavy fine from me; If I ever dared to again use that toilet. It was later that I came to know from my fellow workers, that the ‘Western-Style-Toilets’ at that factory, were reserved exclusively for all the managers, engineers, designers, HR executives, and Salesmen, but strictly not for any workers or security guards.
Now speaking about Mumbai; my entire family was there for a few years, up till when the COVID Pandemic erupted, and we again had to permanently arrive back in our town in Gujarat, due to financial shortcomings. In Mumbai; I first worked as a salesman for a certain international apparel brand, then as a tele-sales representative for a few BPOs, and finally as a desk executive for a popular corporation.
Though working conditions in Mumbai were comparatively better than those in Gujarat, it soon started falling into a typical pattern, with which I was familiar. Since most of my jobs had to do with sales & marketing; I again fell prey to those openly abusive sales-managers & those constantly nagging team-leaders. Even if you’d sell items worth Rupees 1 Crore for praising these managers, it still would never be enough for them! They always ignore your positive qualities, and always find an excuse to denigrate you on your limitations & drawbacks. In Mumbai; we salesmen even use to descend into verbal abuses & infighting among ourselves, since that place (where I was selling branded apparels) contained hundreds of different ‘Apparel-brand-outlets’ in close proximity from each other, and many sales people from other brands would often try to cut out your business, and sell their company’s clothes. It was a very ‘fish-market’ kind of an environment, in fact even people selling fishes in such a market, might be having more morals than us sales executives, who were being unknowingly conditioned to become as greedy & as Machiavellian like our managers, and like many other Millionaires & Billionaires who might be hundred times more shrewd than those managers, in satiating all their self-interests, by any means.
Once, when I had performed very well in my weekly sales business, a couple of sales people had even collectively ganged-up against me, with the sole intention of killing my brand’s business, whether by hook or crook! When I opposed them, they falsely accused me of insulting some of them, and I still remember, on that day I, being a grown man, had cried in front of my Area-Manager (forget about crying in front of just a petty Sales-Manager) and in front of that entire gang. Just imagine – I was the only Gujarati speaking person at that place, and at that moment, who had only recently arrived from the state of Gujarat in a hope to forget all the misfortunes of my past, and start a fresh life. But that entire gang consisted of people born & living in Mumbai city, in the state of Maharashtra!
So if you’ve read this far; I’d like to ask you, were the working conditions as traumatic in your area of work, like mine? I’d like to know.
Also, if any corporate owner, factory owner, shop owner, lawyer, judge, police, politician, activist, journalist, investigator, whistle-blower or even any judge from the honorable Supreme Court of India is reading this article; I’d like to ask a few simple questions to them too :
In a 21st Century India; Why do Millions of Indian wage-earners like me have to work for 11 to 12 hours every day, at a very less salary, and irregular weekly-offs?
Did we people commit any heinous crime, in not becoming graduated?
Do only graduates such as Engineers, Doctors, IT Professionals, Scientists, Managers, HR Executives, Chartered Accountants, CEOs, and all the Government Officials have the right & luxury to recreate in their spare time, with their families?
Don’t we workers too have our families? Don’t we too have our interests, passions, and hobbies outside our work, that we’d like to explore if we’re given sufficient time for that?
Also, I’d like to tell to whoever has read this article so far, as to why even in a 21st Century India, which is touted for being world’s largest democracy, millions of workers are still made to work like mules, donkeys, and all the unfortunate slaves of the antiquity, and also in many other countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Japan, South Korea, and China, to name just few?
I mean in the Western part of the World, there are many great Scandinavian countries which are trying to reduce ‘working hours’ for everyone, so that all sorts of workers in those countries can recreate, and enjoy leisure in their spare time. In fact, people from most of these prosperous countries are already working very less, compared to their Eastern counterparts. But why is it still the case with almost every country in the World, except those few good Western countries, in not virtuously upholding & respecting the ‘work-life-balance’ of the workers from almost every social-strata from these countries?
In many of these Eastern countries they don’t even know what ‘work-life-balance’ is, and in many other countries in which many intellectuals who do know about this subject, haven’t actually done anything substantial to implement it in their countries for everyone.
There can be a multitude of reasons for this, but I think it’s in Asia’s false mindset (in general) to discriminate between those who work for entire days upon days in continuation, and those who work little less. For example; In Asian countries like India & China, those who work out their asses day & night without caring about their familial lives, their private lives, or about their hobbies are looked upon as someone who are very virtuous, and some sort morally-supreme humans who are best among the best, while those who want work life balance in their lives, are mostly looked down upon in the society of both these mammoth countries, as someone who are were lazy, procrastinating parasites, who are morally-corrupt! Then there’s also a tradition in many of these Asiatic countries, which demands utmost respect towards one’s seniors without any objection, and meekly obeying their unquestioned authorities, even when they are wrong.
Until & Unless, these two myths, these two dangerous misconceptions do not change, those Millions of unfortunate workers in both India & China will still have to scratch their limbs for 12 hours daily, on those heavy factory equipments, until those limbs are bruised & swelling, or they will to have to continue to sit on their asses on their office-chairs for 12 hours & continue to work on their PCs; if they are desk-operating working professionals, instead of factory going workers or any other workers who have to do physical labor. And I’m not speaking about just India & China. It may even hold true for many other Asian countries, and even for most of the African countries.
I’m not justifying any Western country and denigrating any other country here. I’m only putting forward what’s good in some of the Western countries.
And, even though China cannot be trusted to reduce its working hours, since it’s a communist country; I’m wondering why India viz.a democracy is taking so long, to reduce working hours for all its workers from all the socio-economic strata, and to see to it that some of the labor laws which are already in existence, are not abused by any employer in India solely for his self-interest, may he simply be a small grocery shop owner or a chairman of some multi-national corporation which is headed from India?
Talking little more about India’s proud workaholic workforce, is it a surprise why cases of many of them getting heart-attacks or strokes in their offices pop up now and then on Indian news channels? Is it also a surprise why many of them eventually become obese, and develop serious conditions like hypertension, diabetes, and many other cardio-vascular diseases, or psycho-somatic diseases like insomnia, depression, and anxiety, causing some of them to either commit suicide, or at least harbor suicidal thoughts, and also causing lots of others to become addicted to a barrage of prescription drugs, or substances like cigarettes, alcohol, and even illegal drugs, in some cases?

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