I fully agree with Shashi Tharoor’s view that people should work rather than enjoy a holiday on October 2. We perhaps have the maximum number of closed holidays in a year. Most of them are connected with religious festivals. Employees professing a particular religion need not be given a holiday on the occasion of other religious festivals.
Mr. Tharoor wants October 2 to be a working day as work was worship for Gandhiji. But Gandhiji lived a life of austerity. He was a man of high thinking and simple living. Mr. Tharoor, on the other hand, preferred to stay in a five-star hotel while his official accommodation was under renovation. He does not like to be questioned because he used his personal money to pay the bills. What a contrast!
As one working for the government, I am not against working on October 2. I am sure many will agree to work on Gandhiji’s birth anniversary. But the Minister advocating the idea is one who spent lakhs on his stay in a five star hotel in a country where the aam aadmi is struggling for a single meal.
There is a need for us to introspect on the concept of public holidays. Both in the government and the private sector, the common thinking centres around suffixing or prefixing casual leave with holidays to enjoy maximum advantage. We have enough reasons to celebrate a pantheon of religious festivals round the year. Any attempt at reforming the practice is seen as interference. A consensus needs to be evolved on holidays, with the aim to strike the right balance between work and leisure.
How many of Mr. Tharoor’s colleagues and other government employees would really agree that October 2 should be a working day? They have been enjoying a holiday all these years. It is true that Gandhiji stressed the importance of work but in practice, how many of us treat work as worship? Thanks to the huge number of holidays declared by the government, we end up wasting precious time and money. As it is, government offices function only five days a week. Most of us have forgotten not only the Mahatma, but also his principles. When will we realise that not every day is a Sunday, and work towards achieving Vision 2020?
India is a land of several faiths and festivals and the holidays declared on such occasions (in addition to Saturdays and Sundays) consume most manhours in a year. Is it necessary to declare public holidays at all to all the employees of an office or industry, when the occasion celebrated by the people of one faith is hardly celebrated by others? Declaring holidays and closing offices have a definite impact on the progress of the nation. Instead, additional casual leave or privilege leave not exceeding six days in a calendar year could be considered.