I used to feel sorry for myself back when I used to work day in and day out for a profit making corporation. It's because in my personal opinion I always considered that it's worthwhile either to toil for your own venture or work for an organization which is into public service and social upliftment and if you cannot do either then find time, in whatever service you are, to devote for meaningful service towards the betterment of our society.
Please don't mistake my preference for enterprising as my apathy against job holders. I have extreme respect for people who choose to work under the directives of an external force, sacrificing many of their yearnings, at times secretly compromising their dreams and self respect, so that they can earn bread for their children and family. RESPECT is the only word I have for them.
I'm equally pragmatic to not think that everyone must and should become an entrepreneur. That cannot happen. There are diverse life circumstances that engulf people and not everyone can be advised to break free from those and start an enterprise. So I've nothing against employment as such. But at the same time I find it intolerable on the part of those who enjoy the scope of breaking free, to remain job holders forever without planning to do something on their own one day. That'd create employment opportunity and generate income ( augmenting national income) plus his former job can be given to someone more needy. Starting their own new enterprise would also allow them greater independence to manage their time at their convenience to contribute to, in whatever significant way possible, the upliftment of the impoverished and the needy. That's how we could generate a cycle of affluence. There would thus be twin advantages if a salaried job holder, having the opportunity to leave his job, leaves his job and creates employment opportunities.
I'll share the instance of one of my relatives who hails from a very rich family. I mean, there is no plausible reason why he should go and serve an MNC instead of starting some self made enterprise. But he never quite had the knack to become a profit hankering businessman. So he always used to say 'I'm going to start a NGO which will be into core public service, like legal aid or battling poverty or eradicating lack of education'. I remembering being so proud of him. Then something called MBA happened to him and he's now a glorified labourer, in a foreign company, who mostly goes without availing even his weekends, for a salary of one lakh rupees per month. I called him a laborer because he doesn't even have adequate time for anything except his work. The last time I had a phone conversation with him, he thanked me for updating him about the change of Presidentship in our country. He has time neither for his hobbies nor for important events unfolding in our country and outside, leave alone social work. What infuriates me is not his present job profile, but the sheer disconnect with the world around him, that he has suffered after working there. He's too tired or too busy to even harbour an opinion about contentious issues rocking our nation. That's where the problem begins. (My observation about my cousin is due to life circumstances unique to him and may kindly not be treated as my general opinion about MBA degree holders and / or employees of MNCs)
My point therefore is that we ought to recognize the worth of our work. To ask and keep asking, not only what good the job will do to me but also 'What good will it do to our society ?' I'm sure it isn't practical for everyone to be in social service as it isn't possible for everyone to start a business enterprise. Yet we can do our share by fixing atleast a day every month to find out where we can contribute what, beyond just the profits for our employer.
My maternal grandfather, who was working in the legal field, wherever he used to be transferred in his service, picked one impoverished child in his neighborhood, and paid for his / her high school education not only till he worked there but also after he was transferred from that place. I saw so many faces, whom I didn't know, many of whom even my elders didn't recognize, who had come to pay him their reverence at his funeral. It was only when they together came up and introduced themselves that we realized the fruits of his dedication.
I'll also furnish a more domestic example. Back in his village he also tirelessly educated and even at times reprimanded the men of our extended family who would blissfully consume all the food cooked for the day without even bothering to leave a near equal share for the women folk. He began his crusade by openly admonishing the women in our family saying that it's their fault that they keep on serving everything on the platter without uttering a single word. He changed that by doing away with the culture of separate eating times for men and women. He ensured that all of us ate together and, when that wasn't possible, he stayed adamant to see that women ate first. I found it remarkably path breaking for a man born in the dark times and surrounded by super orthodox people to think so ahead of that age. My mother brought that culture along and introduced it in our home. She met with terrible resistance initially, especially from the women folk. But she managed to establish that code of eating as far as she could, including in almost all houses of her the then (1980s) neighbourhood, when women did not dare to stand around when men were discussing things.
The reason why I cited this example is because I want to emphasize that our contribution to the society need not necessarily be headline grabbing or front page news. It could be the smallest of works but with such significance as to eradicate a difficulty and establish equality and order.
That's part of the reason why I have never quite approved the way our education system works. From inception to the end, it prepares the youth to become the best follower among a band of followers. No one ever encourages you to either innovate nor prepares you for the difficulties and tribulations of undertaking risks, be it those in business or pursuing an unconventional service. However I will not take away the credit that most ascribe to it in terms of having developed a very competitive and elaborate syllabus and a challenging examination scheme.
At the cost of repetition I'd reiterate that whether you are a job holder or not, introspect and unravel the worth of your work. If you are employed in a business, make time for doing some substantially objective work for the aid of our ailing community and country. Figure out for yourself, what it is that you can do to better things around you. If you are up for it then always keep planning to start your own venture, which atleast will ensure that you will create employment and generate income for many people. If you are running a business, then have the heart to keep a share of your profit for fulfilling your social responsibility and the mind to keep getting better at it as you do at your business. If you are a public servant, don't be lethargic or corrupt, simply work for the goal that you signed up for. I need not tell you that the innumerable afflictions rotting our society require the roles of all of us, small or big, in freeing it from them. So let's work worthy.
This post may kndly not be taken as my prejudices against job holders. I myself am a job holder. I have nothing against job holders, except that I would want to see more and more job holders devoting time for social service. Our community and nation are in dire need of our concerted efforts in that direction. It'd require tremendous sacrifice. Imagine coming back from office at 9 in the night and still having the zeal to do something. It'd require planning, management and of course cooperation at various levels, particularly from family members.
** P.S. I have always wanted to write on this issue, but never really wanted to be mistaken as a preacher. So I kept dodging my own wish at writing this post. However I got in touch with a fabulous blogger named Bhishma Choudhury who blogs his views emphatically at http://sanki.in/ about the myriad issues concerning our youth and our nation with a focus on the tardiness of our education system, and encouraging entrepreneurial aspirations of the youth. It was his latest post @ http://sanki.in/2012/09/03/somethings-are-better-left-untitled/ which gave me the required impetus to write what I've been wanting to write for a long time. Check out his blog for similar experiences.