Mumbai: Christians in Maharashtra seem upset that the western Indian state government plans to make Christmas a “working holiday.”
A circular issued by the general administration department of the state says the government has decided to celebrate Christmas as Good Governance Day. A similar move by the federal government last year had caused a public outcry, The Times of India reported.
“Instead of holding seminars, the government must seek a referendum on whether it is providing good governance or not,” says Fr Nigel Barrett, official spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Bombay.
The priest, however, said the Maharashtra government was welcome to do what it thought was best.
December 25 is also the birthday of former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, a senior member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP, Indian people’s party) that heads the coalition governments in New Delhi as well as in Maharashtra.
“Though (December 25) is a holiday, as part of observing good governance, employees should hold various programs on services useful for administration,” the circular said.
Father Barrett acknowledged Vajpayee as a stalwart of the BJP. However, the government, he adds, is creating a rift between communities by using his birthday, which is on Christmas, as an excuse to observe Good Governance Day.
This is the second time in a row that Christmas will be a working day. The employees will have to observe Good Governance Day by holding workshops on the Right to Information Act, presentations on good ideas of administration, service-related training, stress-free management and by implementing the Right to Services Act.
Police Reforms Watch convenor Dolphy D’Souza said it was very unfortunate and showed complete lack of sensitivity toward minorities. “It is a very important day for Christians and a day for families to meet together. By doing such things, it only raises suspicion about the government’s intentions,” he said.
State board schools were not told to celebrate the day last year nor have they been told to do so yet this year. The city schools affiliated to the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) were sent out circulars telling them to conduct events on December 25.
“Last year, a few days after the circular was issued, the board clarified that participation was not compulsory. For this year, we have yet not received anything. It is very difficult to gather students for an event in the middle of the vacation,” said the principal of a CBSE school in the central suburbs.