Declaring public holidays on the birth anniversaries of icons hailing from particular communities and to use this as a dole out to harness them as a vote bank has been an age old tactics of the Indian polity even if it meant sacrificing the efficiency of administration. It is all the more prominent at the state level politics. Uttar Pradesh which had been governed by the two main regional parties for some 14 years had used this as a poll plank quite efficiently. The total list of public holidays in UP wad 42 and add to it 8 days of Casual Leave, 3 days of National Holidays and 2 days of Restricted holidays and what you get is around two months of vacation for the entire administrative machinery every year.
While Mayawati had declared a public holiday on the birth anniversary of her party patriarch Kanshiram, Akhilesh Yadav government did so at the birth anniversary of former Prime Minister Chandrashekhar.
Right before the Vidhan Sabha Elections, there was a public holiday declared on the birth anniversary of Sardar Patel to woo the Patel community who forms nearly 7% of the electorate. The Rajputs were pandered to by a public holiday on the birth anniversary of Maharana Pratap. The Brahmins were wooed by the declaration of a public holiday on Parshuram Jayanti. The Nishads were wooed by a holiday on the birth anniversary of Nishad Raj. The baniya community was pandered by a holiday on the birth anniversary of Maharaja Agrasen.
Laughably, the birth anniversary of former Chief Minister of Bihar, Karpoori Thakur was a public holiday in Uttar Pradesh which is not so in Bihar.
Some holidays like the last Friday of Ramzan or the Alvida once got repeated because the Id-ul-Fitr which was to be celebrated on the next Friday got deferred by a day because of the visibility issues of the moon.
Other strange holidays included a holiday on the anniversary of the Sufi Saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti whose shrine is in Ajmer. The rationale behind such holidays is beyond the comprehension of a common man.
The current Chief Minister of the state, Yogi Adityanath acknowledged a huge number of holidays and said that it has reduced the academic session to mere 120 days which ideally should be 220 days in a year. There was hardly any time left for the completion of the entire syllabus. This lead to a reflection in the marks of the students as well.
In a bold move that could even upset his electoral permutations, the Uttar Pradesh government reduced the number of holidays by 15 and has rather asked the schools and colleges to teach about the icons for two hours on their birth anniversaries. Their achievements, struggles, contributions towards the state should be discussed rather than wasting an entire day as a holiday.
Full list of reduced holidays :
It is a welcome move as it would ease the academic pressure over the students and the teachers alike.
Other than that the administration would be more visible as those manning the government offices would now not be juggling the scarce man power at their disposal for work like they used to do when these days were public holidays.
The cost of operations of services would decrease as there won’t be a requirement of paying overtime or a compensatory rest to those who used to work on these public holidays.
People may complaint in the short term about their sentiments getting disrespected but in the longer run they would appreciate the churning out of this unwanted fat from the system.