There have been various reports in Media about Goa Government removing Gandhi Jayanti as a Holiday. Some media reports like this on in Hindustan Times have even said that it’s no longer a public holiday. This report was based on a story by PTI which says the same. The truth is somewhat different which is apparent when we see the actual Goa Government gazette.
The gazette clearly states in Annexure I that Gandhi Jayanti continues to be a public holiday. There is no change here and this where PTI is completely wrong. When we go to Annexure IV which contains the “List of Commercial & Industrial Holidays for the Year 2015″ the status changes. Gandhi Jayanti is not mentioned here. But if we go to the similar gazetted notification for 2013, Gandhi Jayanti is an “industrial holiday”. Yet in both gazettes, the total number of Industrial Holidays is Nine. Then where did Gandhi Jayanti go?
The answer to this is, in 2013 Ganesh Chaturthi had only one day holiday, while in 2015 Ganesh Chaturthi has been given 2 days “Industrial holiday”, at the cost of Gandhi Jayanti. While this might seem as an insult to Mahatma Gandhi, the reason for this is a practical one. The biggest festival for Goan Hindus is Ganesh Chaturthi. It is celebrated by all Goan Hindus by worshipping an idol of Ganesh in their homes. This idol is later immersed into a water body. Now the key here is, this festival is celebrated either for 2 days or for 5 days in Goan families.
As a result, it is a common sight to see Goan employees disappear for at least 2 days and some even for 5 days, by using one holiday and rest as leaves. Add to this the mandatory Gandhi Jayanti holiday later on and it leads to a lot of Industrial downtime. So in all probability, this move was to help Industry by legitimizing a “leave” taken by an employee as a “holiday” and at the same time keeping total Industrial holidays at 9.
Again, if one sees the Goa Shops and Establishments Act, In section 24 it clearly mandates that every employee in any establishment is entitled to seven holidays including Gandhi Jayanti. Thus, the Gazette now applies to only “factories” and not “shops and establishments” which could be trading concerns etc. So in totality:
Gandhi Jayanti continues to be a Public Holiday
Gandhi Jayanti continues to be a holiday for Shops & Establishments
Gandhi Jayanti will no longer be a holiday for factory and Industrial workers, who will be given compensatory holiday on 2nd day of Ganesh Chaturthi.
But can states decide to partially withdraw National Holidays? Yes, as lawyer Kartikeya Tanna on twitter has said, since Goa doesn’t have a National Festival & other Holidays Act, 2nd October needn’t be a compulsory holiday. He further says “Each State has some specific dates on which need for a holiday more pressing (religious, cultural)”. And that is exactly what Goa Government has done, cater to its specific needs.
Meanwhile Goa CM Laxmikant Parsekar has already said that this is either a “mistake” or “mischief”. To be fair to him, he was appointed CM on November 8 2014, while this gazette was issued 2 months earlier in September 2014, so he may not be aware of the exact details and the rationale. Which brings us to a question, Why rake this 8 month old Gazette now? This was brought by a Congress spokesperson yesterday, and the reason is Goa will have Zilla Parishad Elections on 18th March. This now is a clear ploy to gain Political mileage.