Too many holidays?

Holidays are very important.
Too many holidays?

Holidays are very important. They come as a big relief, a kind of natural stress reliever. But then, when holidays adversely affect productivity, work culture and education, society and the government should seriously take a call on the issue. A look at the number of government holidays (both state government holidays as well as central government holidays) would reveal that Assam is one state which has one of the highest numbers of government holidays in a year. With 36 government holidays during 2021, Assam stood second among all states in terms of the number of holidays. The first position was occupied by Bihar with 37 days as holidays. This is in addition to Sundays and second Saturdays. It is important to note that during 2021, Kerala had the least number of 21 days as government holidays, followed by Tamil Nadu (22). Maharashtra, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh on the other hand had 25 days as government holidays during the current year. While Punjab had 26 days as government holidays, Gujarat and West Bengal had 27 days each, Mizoram had 28 days, Haryana 30 and Odisha 35 days. In Assam, the number of government holidays has been increasing almost every successive year. During 2020 there were 35 days as government holidays in Assam. The provision of mandatory public holidays enables the people to spend time and interact among themselves. This would not be possible if there were no holidays or where there is the substitution of holidays with individualized leave policies. And, above all, holidays facilitate the celebration and expression of religious, cultural, linguistic and other social identities. This provision is expressly enshrined in Articles 29 and 30 of the Indian Constitution, which recognize cultural rights as well as in Article 51 A which establishes the fundamental duty of all citizens to value and preserve the rich heritage of India's composite culture. But then, the ground reality is that too many holidays harm the overall health and development of a nation and its citizens. One must agree that the multi-religious and multi-cultural character of the country, as also a state like Assam, leads to the incorporation of holidays of different socio-cultural groups into public holiday lists whose benefits to people outside the group is simply questionable. While every community, however small it may be in terms of population, has the right to celebrate its various festivals. But then it is a matter worth debating whether there should be a holiday for the entire state or not for a festival of a numerically minuscule community. A report called "Holidays in India: Too Much Play" – conducted by an organization called Centre for Civil Society (CCS) in 2011 had pointed out that Indian people – government employees in particular – "enjoy" roughly one month of the year as holidays. This is in addition to 52 Sundays and 26 second Saturdays. Together, they add up to 108-110 days, which is about 30 per cent of the total days in a year. That holidays have a direct bearing on a state's economic well-being can be found out by looking at the per capita GDP of the different states. While India's overall per capita GDP stood at Rs 126,406 during 2018-19, Assam did not figure among 19 states whose per capita GDP was more than the national average. Assam (Rs 74,204) stood fourth from the bottom, the worst three states from the wrong side being Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Manipur. This is only one aspect. There is every possibility of proving true that Assam students fare poorly in studies largely because of the increasing number of holidays. Though holidays on various festivals are supposed to also help strengthen national integration apart from enabling the people to enjoy the festivals, the majority of the people neither "celebrate" nor "observe" most of the festivals for which holidays are declared. Similarly, most people do not pay any homage to the great leaders, martyrs and national heroes in whose memory holidays are declared. Not to speak of common people and students, most college and university teachers will probably not be able to tell the significance of Sati Sadhini Diwas, Assam Diwas, and May Day. About "observing" such holidays, the less said the better. There is no second opinion that work culture has been seriously affected in Assam due to the increasing number of holidays and so has been affected productivity and production. The younger generation probably does not favour so many holidays. It is from among members of the younger generation that a healthy debate on holidays should emanate so that Assam does not sink further on the overall socio-economic front.

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