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  • Author or Editor: Laishram Ladusingh x
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This chapter addresses the crucial issues of gender and rural–urban differences in the time spent on unpaid household work in India. These are particularly pressing issues given the wide disparities between these groups. Women are largely under-represented in the workforce in India. According to a McKinsey Global Institute report on gender parity, women in India are almost ten times more likely to be engaged in unpaid work such as cooking, cleaning, and taking care of children and older members of the family than are men. This compares with a global average of roughly three times the amount of time spent by men. The findings that women spend more time than men in unpaid household activities related to management and maintenance and care of children, sick, elderly and disabled household members provide clear evidence that there is gender division of unproductive and productive activities which is induced by prevailing sociocultural norms and practices.

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The rapid economic growth of the past few decades has radically transformed India’s labour market, bringing millions of former agricultural workers into manufacturing industries, and, more recently, the expanding service industries, such as call centres and IT companies.

Alongside this employment shift has come a change in health and health problems, as communicable diseases have become less common, while non-communicable diseases, like cardiovascular problems, and mental health issues such as stress, have increased.

This interdisciplinary work connects those two trends to offer an analysis of the impact of working conditions on the health of Indian workers that is unprecedented in scope and depth.

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This introductory chapter provides an overview of work, stress, and health in India. India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. The growth of the Indian economy has been matched by the steady increase in its labour force. However, globalisation and rapid industrial growth in India in the last few years has led to occupational health-related issues emerging. The major factors that contribute to the high prevalence of cardiovascular diseases and neuropsychiatric disorders in India include the increase in life expectancy, changes in lifestyles, stressful living and working conditions, and general lack of support systems that enable better coping mechanisms. Ultimately, work-related stress represents a major and costly health problem for individuals, companies, and nations.

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This concluding chapter argues that the chapters in this book represent some of the state-of-the-art research on the relationship between work and health in India. Both individually and collectively, they have made some significant contributions to understanding these issues. However, as India continues to go through economic and epidemiological changes, one should expect to see a rapid growth in the number of studies in this area. As such, it is important to identify areas that should be the focus of future research: (1) occupational or industry-specific studies to capture new forms of working; (2) the development of nationally representative prospective cohort studies of the work environment and health; and (3) greater multidisciplinary dialogue.

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