Spotlight on Moonlight

September 24, 2022 at 12:29 am 5 comments


His dad was never at home in the evenings and that’s the reason we friends usually hung out at Anil’s house unrestrained after our school hours. Being the father of four school going children and the only son to an ailing mother, his dad’s income from being an accountant was scarcely sufficient to pay both the rent for their house and put food onto the table. For fees and to buy uniforms for my friend and the siblings, he offered his expertise to put in place an accounting procedure at a booming yet highly unorganised vegetable shop that was located nearby. He would often spend long laborious hours in the shop making every entry of purchase from the scrapbook onto the ledger and faithfully register all the sales and expenses of the day to make financial sense of the shopkeeper’s daily dealings. Over a period of few months, my friend’s dad streamlined the myriad transactions into an intelligible financial document for the owner of the shop to instantaneously know how much he spent and earned on a weekly basis and how much more money he would need to set-up his next shop. The proprietor of the shop grew his business considerably within a couple of years, added three more outlets and had set up a centralised purchasing system. And all these were seamlessly integrated into a robust accounting platform that my friend’s dad had so meticulously created. And when the mega expansion plan to open a chain of vegetable shops in the towns nearby was ready, banks were queuing up to advance the money needed, by virtue of the strong financials and sound accounting practices the vegetable vendor has followed. For all his services, Anil’s dad was paid a princely sum of Rs.1500/- a month and a daily supply of vegetables to his house and both eased the pressure of the family’s budget.

And in another city, my uncle, a reputed musician working in the state radio station, would bicycle for miles everyday to conduct private music lessons to spruce up his income. He would wake up in the wee hours, quickly get ready and would set off to take multiple classes before he joined his official duty at 9 AM. The routine is repeated in the evenings and it would be well into night before he reached home. Though ostensibly my uncle’s private classes did make the financial condition of the family comfortable, he, in the bargain, had trained scores of students in the difficult skill of classical singing and on the way, produced a few outstanding musicians worthy of taking forward the legacy. Thus, his outside the regular job activities gave a great fillip to foster and nourish a precious art. 

What Anil’s father and my uncle were indulging in is called Moonlighting, a perfectly accepted and even admired behaviour of responsible individuals to financially secure their families. And there are millions of such men and women who sacrifice rest and leisure and take up a second job so that the future of their dear ones are guaranteed. While many of them would be moonlighting to barely make the ends meet, a more aspirational lot have definite life goals motivating them to take up the second job. And whatever be the reason or the compulsion, it is in the nature of human beings to preserve and strive to prosper and moonlighting is indeed a legitimate method that turn one’s fortunes through hard work. And to call such a demonstrative life skill as unethical is completely misreading the instinctive nature of human preservation and a gross misjudgement of his priorities.  

Moonlighting, along with being very useful to the individual, also contributes immensely to the development and maturing of the informal sectors. It is beyond the resources of many in the unorganised sector, like the vegetable vendor, to hire a full-time professional and moonlighting affords them with the skills and the expertise needed for their growth at a fraction of their original cost. An educational institution engaging a part-time professor, a management professional offering his services to a start-up company or a techie working in a reputed IT firm developing an App for a restaurant business are all helping the small businesses achieve traction at a low premium. If the reputed doctors were not moonlighting in smaller clinics and hospitals, our healthcare system would have been all the more fragile.

In a study conducted recently in the United States, it is found that many are postponing their retirement decisions due to financial compulsions and are, in fact, taking up multiple jobs to remain economically independent. So moonlighting far from being an Indian or an IT industry specific issue, is now a global phenomenon with technology making it more accessible at the individual level. And organisations making an issue about it are out of sync with the times we live in!




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5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Ayan  |  September 25, 2022 at 3:51 pm

    Very well written. A good number of professionals in US who are my childhood friends were and are still doing two jobs,which the Indian system thinks and portrays as totally unethical which is a gross injustice which you have penned down with example in Indian context. I am sure the system change for the better future.

  • 2. debjani6ghosh  |  September 25, 2022 at 8:22 pm

    Well-written! I am glad you gave pertinent examples to justify your argument. I hope this article reaches to more and more people.

    • 3. chapter18  |  September 25, 2022 at 9:07 pm

      Thanks Debjani. I too wish it reaches a wider audience so that they don’t feel guilty of having to do two jobs. It saves many from poverty and gives hope to a better future. Thanks.

  • 4. Anita Vij  |  September 30, 2022 at 12:21 pm

    Nice article. This is not a new thing doing two jobs at a time. The concept of a part-time job is very old; many middle-class men used to do it and still are. To meet the expenses sometimes it is necessary to do. Thanks.


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