Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Promote a work culture


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By Albert Thyrniang

Governor, RS Mooshahary’s stance in reducing the number of holidays is encouraging. The Governor expressed his views while addressing the 62nd foundation day of the Bharat & Guides on 7th November, 2012. He observed that the government has granted too many days to its employees. He appealed for limiting some holidays only to the people who actually observe them and not to others who have no connection with the festivals. This is a progressive view and should be welcomed and practiced if we have to improve our work culture.

Meghalaya is the only state that declares holidays on Saturdays. All state government offices and schools remain closed on these days. Effectively every week we have a declared holiday. Nowhere else do we have this practice. We simply cannot afford this. It is a huge loss. The loss can never be made up. Is this the reason why we are lagging behind in every field? Is the clamour for holiday on every possible occasion responsible for our slow pace of development and progress? Probably to a great extent!

The governor was referring to the holidays granted to government employees. Let me extend that to schools. According to the list issued by the government of Meghalaya the total number of holidays in 2012 is 41. In the N.B. the instruction is “As per the right of children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009 (RTE), No. 35 of 2009, the norms and standards for a school under the section 19 & 25 of the Schedule, the miminum number of working days … for Upper Primary Schools the will be 220 days.” Let us analyse this. Saturdays and Sundays are holidays. We know there are 52 Saturdays and 52 Sundays in a year. Together they make 104 days. 104 days plus 41 (total number of holidays) equals to 145 days. In a year there are 365 days. Now 365 minus 145 is exactly equal to 220 days. So we have 220 days of class on paper. But in reality 220 days of class is impossible. Bandhs and strikes easily add up to 10 to 15 days minimum. Local holidays are also there. So normally we should have about five months of holidays and seven months of class. In some years (years of bandhs and strikes) it may be six and six and even seven and five in favour of genuine and forced holidays. Yet we expect our wards to excel.

A few years ago the government had declared two Saturdays in a month as working days. But sadly to please its employees it withdrew the order. The government should now declare all Saturdays as working days. It should limit the number of festival holidays. Let those who celebrate these holidays take leave. The rest of us should work. Life should go on as usual. The honourable governor correctly said that holidays are not the only way to celebrate festivals. We can celebrate festivals even as we work. Government employees can celebrate festivals in their departments/offices. Students can celebrate festivals in schools and colleges to learn about them and appreciate others’ culture. Holidays actually celebrate nothing. We become more ignorant of those festivals and feasts when we have holidays.

Visiting a well known school in Guwahati I was surprised to find Christmas Cribs in every classroom. The students of each class had prepared a crib in their classroom. On enquiring from the headmistress I was informed that the school makes it a point to celebrate all festivals in the school. The school’s newsletter informs me that a reputed school in Tripura celebrated Gandhi Jayanti in the school on 2nd October this year. Similarly other festivals and commutations are celebrated in the school on the actual days. So clearly feasts and festivals can be celebrated without holidays. There is no disrespect here. In fact it is to appreciate and celebrate them that we do not have holidays. According to the governor the government’s employees are unhappy when some holidays are not given. Can the same thing be said of others including students and teachers? As the governor said we have to change our attitude, outlook and mentality for a ‘better society’. Minimize holidays and maximize working days! Doing it sooner than later will do us immense good. Promote a work culture, not holiday culture.


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