Read this article today: http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Citycitybangbang/entry/the-longevity-of-the-indian-politician

Pretty interesting thoughts from Santhosh Desai. He argues excellently that the job of politicians is very complex but still many manage excellently well into their 80s. Should we then look at ways to utilise people over 60?

Honestly, in about 12-13 years of corporate life, I have come to question it at times. Many of my friends have talked about early retirement. I perfectly understood their view but personally I would never do that. Right from my college days, I have always argued one should not look to retire at 60. Reason for my thoughts – if you live till 90, you waste 30 years!!!

By the way, the question that Santosh Desai ends with is irrelevant to those who are not looking for answers from others. Theethum Nanrum Pirar Thara Vaara – No sweetness or bitterness in your life is others work. Even today there are professions that keep you occupied till you die – here are some: writers, social service, academicians, business administrators, lawyers and doctors. But still the question remains: why some retire early and others go on and on?

On one hand you have people retiring in 50s, 40s, and even 30s. On the other hand corporate life has shown that the best of the best have never retired or retired late. Ratan Tata retired at 75. Just talking about the exceptional people – Sujatha. APJ – radiant eyes even at 75. [side note: Man I must thank the IIM-A seating strategy of giving assigned seats – otherwise I would have never sat in the front row, even for APJ! ]

So is it only that the best of the best retire late? There was this doctor – Lakshmi Narayanan in manapparai, a small town near trichy. When he died at 90 the procession was bigger than what anyone got. I am sure he wasn’t the best – leave alone the state or nation – not even the best in the small town. But just his dedication and his unwavering focus on service was unflinching. He was the cheapest – charged like 10Rs etc when others charges 100s. For some it was free too! The hospital was much better. Our family never went to him but I admired him for what he did.

Why do these people want to go on and on? When I looked at people who retired early, it was enthusing just from one point – man these guys made money so fast that they could retire early or wow they are so content that they took VRS. But self-sufficiency or contentment can never stop one from pushing for more. I guess when one realises that life is a gift and especially when it is a hard-fought gift – you want to make every minute or year count.

ps: about self-sufficiency and contentment being reasons to stop. On the contrary those are the reasons why people make some exciting decisions in life. Self-sufficiency and contentment allows you to take risks. Did you see when Kamal talked about Viswaroopam controversy – “I have tens of houses to go eat and sleep and I am not worried about loosing money”. Dont you think that gives a sense of freedom to go do what you want.