Old age to me is just a number. Of course, if health is not fine, body is like a burden on self and loved ones, no matter what age. So, let us not refer to old age from the perspective of sickness, as trauma is obvious.
Instead, let us see what it ought to be. We have designed a world, where working means “8-12 hours of continuous daily engagement”, that is why the old-age people are expected to retire from work. Imagine, if working only meant, regular commitment to defined responsibilities. No matter how short in time-span on daily basis. Continuity of engagement in work is more critical compared to how many hours a day. After all, nothing ever gets done by one person, it’s always a team-work.
Just imagine, how nice it would be, if there were job advertisements something like this:
- Work timings- 2 hours a day
- Work nature- requiring lifelong wisdom, helpful in making right decisions
Only old people who would not be applying would be those, who are unwell.
With advent of digital-economy, it’s high time to reconsider how we stop wasting matured and experienced minds from continuing to contribute on regular basis, in real economy. Error in our perspective comes from not realising that there are two kinds of components in work we do: (1) routine managing & (2) creative discretions. While seniors can be kept free from routine-managing, disengaging their lifelong wisdom from creative discretions is fatal loss to humanity at large.
Correction can happen at various levels, from individual to national policy levels, with a Charter to Engage Seniors, in Regular Work. Every organization, private or public, should relook into its work-profile mandates, and explore how many such regular short-time jobs are possible. These jobs should not be ceremonial time-pass activities, instead making vital value-addition, with due accountability matrix. In current times, innovations into new knowledge-era can benefit immensely from seniors, in every domain.
At policy levels, Government can be greatest benefactor, as policy making requires greatest wisdom, with ability to anticipate long-term horizons.
Most importantly, at individual levels, everyone needs to anticipate one’s Senior years while younger, and develop an opportunity for oneself, to stay productively engaged. For instance, shouldn’t becoming a primary school teacher be considered a lifelong reward for a life lived with sincere commitment.
Tulsi Tawari is a creative entrepreneur and knowledge strategist. He has written the critically acclaimed book, Creation of Wealth vs Transfer of Wealth. He is a Member, of Board of Governors of IIT- Bhilai. He has also made a short-film, Life 2.0, depicting how to redesign sustainable human habitats, in sync with nature, called Cillage.