Noting that a job need not mean a government or public-sector job and that the private sector has contributed immensely to the creation of wealth for all, “the more ambitious among you will aim to become not employees but employers. With entrepreneurship they will create new job opportunities”, Kovind writes in the letter, titled “Arise, The Future Beckons”.
“In the new century, many of our deeply held notions of ‘work’ were anyway undergoing changes, and Covid-19 only hastened that process. It forced movement restrictions and lockdowns on us, paralysing economies around the world. As a result, there were job losses and salary cuts, but there was also a rise in the ‘gig economy’.
“In this brave new world, a brave new breed of youngsters is seeking neither jobs nor the financial security of the routine nine-to-five work but a rightful recognition of and remuneration for their unique talents, for their creative vision, for their skills. Instead of safety, their preference is for flexibility. Instead of closing their options, they are exploring more alternatives,” the President writes.
Along with the gig economy, another trend in recent years is work-life balance — the phase when hard work alone was of paramount importance is over in many nations, organisations and sectors.
“There is increasing focus on accommodating other aspects of life alongside the economically productive work. An employee spending extra hours and weekends on work is replaced by one who cares as much about promotions as about family time. It makes all the more sense in the pandemic time.
“Work-from home has its benefits but it also puts working women under a ‘triple burden’. They already have the double burden of paid work and ‘unpaid work’, that is, domestic responsibilities. On top of that, as children attend school from home, their learning as to be supplemented by the parents, and that task usually falls on the mother. The new stress on family time should be welcome for male employees, so that they can share some of the responsibilities of their partners. In any case, studies show that hard work in itself can be even counterproductive and as the number of hours spent on work goes up, productivity comes down in some instances,” Kovind writes.
The pandemic, he writes, has been an unprecedented crisis, “but it may as well be just a warning of a far bigger crisis that is looming over the horizon”.
“Climate change is no longer a matter of scientific research and policy discussions; its impact is already tangible, and we are fast running out of time to keep global warming within feasible limits. The decade of the 2020s could turn out to be the most decisive point. The situation is dire and pessimism won’t be out of place, but I remain hopeful.
“My hope stems from the fact that we have seen what we are capable of when our collective existence was threatened by the coronavirus. Covid-19 has shown what humankind can do if all nations join hands and are guided by nothing other than concern for our common future coupled with respect for science. Nations shared inputs on warnings, treatment protocols, scientific research and finally the vaccines too. India reached out to the needy with medicines, protective equipment and vaccines; and when it needed help the others wasted no time in giving it a hand.
“Whenever we were told about our ancient saying, ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbkam’ — the whole world is but just one family, it seemed an abstract ideal, but we have seen how true it is when humankind faced a crisis together, like a family. The pandemic has, thus, taught us exactly those lessons that will come handy for climate action,” the President writes.
In this context, he recalls the values that our forefathers held close to their hearts while fighting for Independence and which formed the bedrock for the building of a new nation born at the midnight of August 15, 1947.
Mahatma Gandhi “epitomised all those values. Though with his trademark self-deprecating humour he would call himself as ordinary, his so-called ‘ordinariness’ encompassed the best features of excellence. His exceptional journey to becoming a ‘Great Soul’ was consistently guided by those eternal values — truth and non-violence. And neither of these values was imbibed by him overnight”.
“If it had any beginning it was during his higher studies and early years in what we would today call professional career. In short, what I mean to underline here is that Gandhiji brought about the most radical transformation in his personality when he was in his twenties,” the President writes.
The 20s is usually the time of life when all its potential is unexplored and all alternatives are open ahead. From the next decade, the range of choices starts narrowing down. Experience is appreciated everywhere — and rightly so, but it comes at the cost of closed options.
“As average Indians in your twenties, the question of career is bound to be uppermost in your minds. Under social imperatives or under peer pressure, many of you often equate a ‘career’ with a ‘job’, preferably with the assurance of its continuity till superannuation. That is understandable. India’s bureaucracy and public sector both require talented, hardworking youngsters.
“As good governance is always a work in progress, it requires infusion of new thinking, innovation and passionate commitment that can best come from your generation. It is the youth of today who will enhance delivery of public services by deploying new models of administration or futuristic technologies and improve the lives of people,” the President writes.
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