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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Narendra Modi government to celebrate Good Governance Day on Christmas

Children may have been spared the need to compulsorily attend school onChristmas day, but bureaucrats may not be as lucky. The government is readying a plan to celebrate December 25 as 'Good Governance Day', possibly spoiling the holiday plans of many who had been looking forward to a five-day weekend. 

Minister of state for personnel and in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), 
Jitendra Singh, told ET on Monday that a plan is being finalised for activities for bureaucrats on December 25. "We are in the process of finalising a plan for government officials for that day," Singh said, effectively indicating that officials, especially senior ones, could end up having to attend office on what is a gazetted holiday. 

Narendra Modi government to celebrate Good Governance Day on ChristmasGovernment sources also separately confirmed that the Department of Administrative Reforms & Public Grievances (DARPG), under the ministry of personnel, was framing a plan for various activities to be carried out by bureaucrats on December 25. The plan is being worked out in consultation with the cabinet secretariat and PMO, these sources added. 

This follows the decision of Prime Minister 
Narendra Modi, who has a reputation of being a workaholic, to link December 25 with good governance in honour of BJP stalwart and former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee, whose birthday falls on the day. Modi made the announcement on December 2, and said on December 25, all BJP MPs and government officials will mark the day as symbolic of good governance. 

Governance Day did not mean that officials would be asked to work as he sought to draw parallels with Gandhi Jayanti on October 2, on which day the government kicked off the Swachh Bharat campaign. 

"Coming to office for such activity does not mean doing official work...These are two different things. It is not like they will be working," Singh said. Various activities, including taking a cleanliness pledge and other activities were carried out by officials on October 2, leading senior bureaucrats to wonder if December 25 will be even busier because good governance is all about the bureaucracy. 

While the Modi-led government and BJP gear up to celebrate the birthday of one of its tallest leaders, among bureaucrats, already feeling overworked since this government took charge, the mood is not as exuberant. For one, it has upset the vacation plans of many. With Wednesday, December 24, a restricted holiday because of Christmas Eve and December 25 a gazetted holiday, many were hoping to enjoy an extended weekend and had taken or considered taking casual leave on Friday, December 26. One senior bureaucrat told ET that he had applied for a restricted holiday on December 24 and casual leave on December 26, effectively making for a five-day weekend which he planned to spend with his family in Goa. "But now, if one has to come to office on Christmas day, even for half-a-day, the vacation plans are ruined," the officer said. 

This will be the second long weekend that could end up being spoilt for bureaucrats due to Modi government's enthusiasm to link them with special campaigns. On October 2, always a holiday to celebrate Mahatma Gandhi's birthday, many of them had to show up at work because of the Swachh Bharat celebrations and lost out on the opportunity to have a five-day extended weekend. The day after Gandhi Jayanti was a holiday on account of Dussehra, followed by the weekend and October 6, which was a holiday for Id-ul-Zuha. 

On that occasion too, the government did not issue any circular cancelling the holiday on October 2 and the same is expected for December 25 too.

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