I have just received this very touching note about Prime Minister Modi sleeping only three hours a day and working at a feverish pace. It quotes one of his PMO staff who has returned after retirement and is full of admiration for the 20-hour-day the PM keeps.

It is admirable. But is it really needed? I have always been a little suspicious of people (bosses or staff) who hung around till late, came in on Sundays, kept subordinates into the night, all of this designed to give the impression of great dedication and hard work. Meeting mania is not always a sign of great productivity. It is often just a cover up.

File image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTIFile image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

File image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

We tend to mistake effective work with time spent on it. Remember even in school the ones who took the longest on the exam paper were seen as somewhat more diligent than those who finished fast. You were then supposed to ‘go over’ your paper and revise it because you had rushed it.

Thing is, if you are doing 20 hours a day and sleeping only three or four, you are sleep deprived and therefore not efficient. This is a scientific fact. If you are sleep deficient, you are not functioning at optimum. If I was on a plane and was told the captain was short on his Zs, I’d disembark. Same goes for anyone piloting the ship of state.

And while one can say ‘wah wah’ to this sort of an itinerary, it is also indicative of the fact that a leader does not believe his team members have the adequate skills to do the job on their own. Part of being numero uno is that you delegate responsibility. Hands on is one thing, but getting involved in everything makes you lose focus on the bigger picture. Shouldn’t the Prime Minister be plotting the blueprint for the future instead of attending meetings at midnight? That is why you have a cabinet and why it costs millions to keep these ministers in luxury so they make decisions on their own.

The lack of adequate skills in sensitive posts also points directly to the absence of trust and faith in their abilities which is a worrying factor.

In a smaller way, all of us have experienced colleagues who make it a point to stay after hours. This makes the rest of us look like shirkers and it makes the other guy look like he is setting the standard and is the only one who is dedicated.

Actually, if you cannot complete your tasks in the allotted time, shouldn’t someone be questioning your competence? Why are you taking 10 hours to do an eight-hour job?

It is a fallacy that long hours are automatically equal to good work and output. Sometimes they are a detraction.

In the case of the PM, if this note is totally true, someone should recommend he rest a little and ease up. How can you make sensible decisions if you are half asleep? And if this is going to damage your health, get men and women about you who can deliver. Nobody, not even Modi can keep up this frenetic pace.

The note then goes on to say that the PMO staffer left a midnight meeting while three other groups were waiting for appointments. He went home, had a rest and came back the next morning and lo behold, the PM was just ending his meeting with the last of the three delegations.

He gushes: The PM had not slept for 36 hours. What a man.

I agree, tremendous stamina and great commitment, but at what cost, sir?

Don’t know about you but if I don’t sleep for 36 hours I become a zombie… huh what did you say?


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Dear PM Modi, your 20-hour-day is admirable, but it’s time you get some rest