Friday, January 18, 2013

Read: Genesis 2
                     Workers striking work for better pay and benefits is a common feature in India. Every worker is entitled to wages and perks that are rightful and just to him and according to the work that has been assigned to him or her. But off late some of the strikes that were organized became a total sham often bringing ridicule and contempt in the minds of the common man. The recent strike by the state government employees of the Kerala State government was an example in this matter. A strike organized against a government order introducing participatory pension scheme for the new government employees. A strike organized by government workers who were already bleeding the state exchequer, as almost 70% of the government income generated goes for salary and pension of its employee. Tally the salary and the amount of work hours that is done by these employees, one feels disgusted at the way work is understood by some government employees. But what really takes the cake is a recent article that was published in Times of India this week about the disparity in pay in the government owned airline Air India. According to reports that has been brought out by committee that looked into the skewed salary system of many of central government institutions, it found that it is better to work as a the clerical staff in Air India than working as its chairman and managing director. According to reports that has been published, the chairman and managing director who is an IAS officer takes home a salary of Rs. 80, 000, while a joint managing director in the Indian Revenue Service take home about Rs. 70,000. In stark contrast the five hundred odd clerical staff in Air India draws between Rs. 60, 000 and Rs. 1.10 Lakh a month, excluding other emoluments. In fact, according to the report of the committee, about one fifth of airline's 28,000 work force which comprises of unskilled employees like loaders, car drivers and peon takes home a salary between Rs. 32,000 and Rs. 50,000 a month. Along with these you have different benefits like travel benefits, allowances and other perks No wonder that most of the central institution like the Air India and Indian Railways are in huge cash crisis or in debt. The  government seems to be working on fixing up this skewed salary structure in institutions like Air India. But then more than the fixing up of the skewed salary structure what need to urgently fixed or re moulded is about the concept of work of Indians especially those working in government undertaking institutions. How do we view work? Can work be always related and compared to its financial benefits or can we redefine work in terms of meaning in life, work in terms of one's calling and vocation and the contribution that we can give to the society and to our country through the work that we do?.
                           It is in the book of Genesis that we find the meaning and the concept of what it means to work. In Genesis 2: 15 we find God creating human being and entrusting the human beings the responsibility of the garden of Eden. He tells Adam and Eve that they are supposed to cultivate and keep it. Here in this verse we find for the first time a work being given by God to human beings. Human being are entrusted to cultivate the garden of Eden and keep it. Here we find that it is God who entrust the responsibility of work to us. It is this understanding that bring theology to work. Works is a calling that God gives to us and it is God who places each one of us in the work place that has been assigned to us. Thus to have a new understanding of work ethics it is imperative  for all of us to understand that each one of has been called by God, set apart by God in a place or an institution that has been chosen by God for us. Thus my belief is that each one of us has been given a garden of Eden. This garden of Eden could be the school that I  teach, the government office that I work or in other sense wherever human being work, that place or institution is something holy for God and it is set apart by God as a garden of Eden for the concerned person working there. If we have an understanding that it is God who has placed me in the particular work place where I am working, I am sure we would be able to take our work more seriously and can also redefine the concept of work . Along with work we also need to understand the work ethics that goes along with it. When God put human being in the garden of Eden, they were supposed to cultivate it and make it wonderful. Garden of Eden is not given to human being to only stand guard of it, just as a security guard guards a vacant land or property of its owner. Human beings are supposed to work and cultivate and transform the garden of Eden to something more beautiful. This means that through my work I am supposed to bring changes and contributions to my work place. Through my work when I bring changes for the better in the institution I work, then I bring meaning and ethics to work and also in the process bring glory to God. As a clergy, this is my objective in my ministry. Wherever God places me, I am supposed to work with God so that I bring changes and transformation in the place that I am in. I am not in a place of work, where I am just supposed to maintain status quo or just be there in an institution or parish or a work place where my emphasis is to do the minimum work and take home the maximum salary and benefits. Hence what is needed in our life is this reorientation of work and its ethics whereby we understand work as a calling of God, work that we do with God to bring about changes and transformation in the place that we work, so that through our work life is made  meaningful to us and a blessing to others and God.