Infosys founder Narayana Murthy advocates 70-hour work week

05 November 2023 3 min. read
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India is debating long working hours after one of the country’s top entrepreneurs said young people should aspire to work exceptionally long hours if they want to see their country become a global economic leader.

Young people should work 70 hours per week – that is the belief of founder and billionaire CEO Narayana Murthy of Indian technology giant Infosys, one of the richest leaders in India. The idea is that if Indians collectively devoted more hours to work, it could significantly boost India’s overall work productivity.

“Our youngsters must say ‘this is my country; I want to work 70 hours a week’. For the first time India has received certain respect. This is the time for us to consolidate and accelerate the progress and for doing that we need to work very hard,” said Murthy in an interview.

Infosys founder Narayana Murthy advocates 70-hour work week

Some top business leaders, like Bhavish Aggarwal, founder of Indian ridesharing company Ola, agreed with Murthy’s comments. But it is not just India: Influential tech magnate Elon Musk has also previously showed support for abnormally long hours.

But Murthy’s comments also sparked online debate among Indian netizens, who pointed towards the negative physical and mental health effects that such long work weeks can have on people.

“No time to socialise, no time to talk to family, no time to exercise, no time for recreation. Not to mention companies expect people to answer emails and calls after work hours also. Then wonder why young people are getting heart attacks?” wrote Deepak Krishnamurthy, an Indian cardiologist, on X, the website formerly known as Twitter.

Other noted that low salaries for entry-level positions are demotivating for young workers in India, even for technology engineering positions – and even at Infosys. One user on X called out the raw deal that engineers straight out of university were getting at Infosys.

It should be noted that the typical Indian already works far more hours than their US, UK, and Germany counterparts. Workers in India tend to work an average of 47.7 hours per week, more than the average of some richer Western countries, which hovers around 35 hours per week.

Murthy’s wife Sudha Murthy came to her husband’s defense, noting that Murthy was just sharing his experience. She noted that he has, in fact, worked 80 to 90 hours a week at times and that he “believes in real hard work.”

The Infosys founder noted that some Indians were picking up “not-so-desirable habits from the West.” With this, he might be pointing to the slack attitude younger Westerners are beginning to take towards work, especially after the pandemic.

Young, mostly Gen Z workers in the US and Europe appear to be mostly rejecting the notion of ‘hustle culture’, or the drive to go above and beyond in your work life with an entrepreneurial attitude. The trend of ‘quit quitting’ has also gained traction online, which is the idea of putting only minimum effort into your job and never going the extra mile for an employer.

Despite this call for an increase in productivity, India’s economy is already doing quite well. Sure, more working hours could help the economy go ‘above and beyond’, but it does not look like a necessity for India to remain a global economic leader.

India is one of the fastest growing major economies in the world, with a 7.2% growth rate predicted for 2023. Much of that growth is fueled by a strong financial sector, increased domestic demand, and growing investment in public infrastructure. Digital advertising is also one of the fastest growing sectors in India, with increased internet access across the country boosting online shopping and other parts of the digital economy.