Resolutions for ‘Revolution 2020’

Resolutions for ‘Revolution 2020’

Midlife Musings

Indu Anand

I hate New Year resolutions. Self-selecting yourself for a series of certain setbacks so early for so long a period sounds self-harming. A new year is just too new, like that pair of shoes that the salesman sold you one size too tight promising that it will ‘open up’. Never does, right?

Years, too, don’t always ‘open up’. Sometimes, they just unravel. Like 2013 unravelled into an epic 2014. Then 2015 did in 2014, any good from 2015 was 2016’s New Year breakfast, 2017 had no chance really, 2018 prostrated before 2019. Now, ‘twenteen-twenty’ has got 2019 between its teeth. But New Year resolutions are a form of protest. Through them, we make a show of resistance to reality. We thumb our own noses at our own bad habits or the lack of good ones. Our resolutions imagine that we are independent of our institutions -- our homes, marriages, parenting pressures, caregiving pulls, finances, commutes, our governments, our faiths, our workplaces. Our resolutions are hope, and hope, gently handled, can be harnessed by our institutions, but only if their resolutions match ours -- to be better.

After the fantastic final flourish the Individual gave to 2019, this year, why not demand that some resolutions be made by our institutions, too?

For many of us kar sewaks of ‘New India’, the first ‘institution’ amongst equals are the shiny steel-and-glass temples of our employment. So, in this new year, what new could our employers resolve to be and do? Here’s my starter for ten.

First, pledge to encourage your employees to become citizens, beyond boasting citizenship. Before you say that “but of course,” you ‘allow’ your employees a day off to vote; voting is as transactional to citizenship as payday is to compensation. Give your employees paid ‘Solidarity Leave’ for peaceful protest, no questions asked. There’s nothing more demoralizing than being held captive in a meeting room when all you want to do is to show up, and then show off that you showed up for what you believe in. It is this same belief that will power your ambitions for your balance sheet, and it may also be this same proactive permission to participate that will save your reputation from your apparently ‘apolitical’ employee’s social media hate speech. Share the cost of your employee’s enrolment in learning programmes that fill the gaps in their education. Invite authors, academics and activists to speak at your cafes and your ‘offsites’.

If all this makes you break out in a cold sweat, here’s some other equally ‘woke’ resolutions, lower on the intensity of dread. First off, re-humanize the job interview. Return it to IRL, or in real life. It doesn’t matter which video app you use but so much of a candidate’s ‘fit’ is instantly fathomed in the clasp of his hand and how her eyes flit.

Next, water down the office group chats. If this resolution feels like too much of a regression, let me remind you of another messaging technology. It’s called email. Email may not be as fervent, but it’s functional, still, and in contrast to WhatsApp, it is the ironic equivalent of texting before calling.

Third, consider a block closure. Typically, this is the shutdown of manufacturing operations to respond to a decline in demand but plan one even if yours is not a manufacturing business, even if your services are flying off the shelf. The economy is struggling with depression and anxiety. A block closure, timed well, could prevent your workforce from following suit, and it may even be useful for readying it with some ‘Rest and Recreation’, for the return to dizzying heights that we are being told is coming soon.

The ‘guru’ has resolved to take charge of our inner engineering. The CEO must now also raise her hand for some institutional reengineering. What about the Individual? Well, in 2020, they will keep being human -- of frail resolutions and faulty revolutions -- but without whose humanity the ‘guru’, the CEO and many others are bound to fail.

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