Overwork hits Indian health

Sep 28 2007 by Derek Torres Print This Article

India has made wonderful strides in "catching up" with Europe and the US, especially in the technology sector, over the years. But with this has also comes the ill effects. While the number of millionaires in India is sharply on the rise, so are the number of cases of diabetes, heart disease and the rest.

A recent article in the Guardian reports that these "lifestyle diseases" cost the Indian economy almost $9 billion in 2005 alone!

But it's not fast food or fast cars that's causing this downturn in quality of health. No, it's something just as unnecessary - long and unnatural working hours Ė with a good dose of stress thrown in for good measure.

It's hardly a secret that people working in IT in India are always curiously available for 10am calls on the East Coast of the US. When working in both Europe and the US, I noted that our Indian counterparts were frequently at the office at 2am or later (and earlier), plus they worked weekends.

Local companies aren't helping much; after all, only about a third of IT companies in India offer regular health checks. Combine that with India's tiny per capita spending on health care and you've got real problems.

Since companies seem to be more concerned with the bottom line, it's perhaps time for companies and government to sit down and see if they can really afford to forgo $9 billion a year due to declining health in what is probably their most lucrative sector.

Or maybe it's just time to admit that we're not meant to work 12-16 hour days 6-7 days a week just to boost the bottom lines of tech companies thousands of miles away.