--BY MADAN LAMSAL
There are more holidays you have now to spend in your own holy or unholy ways. The streets are stinking with the uncollected garbage littered everywhere but this is for your own good as it reminds you to wear masks as not to get infected with COVID-19! Similarly, petroleum prices have gone up for the umpteenth time so that you do not use vehicles and start walking to go anywhere as that would be good for your health and our environment. And the public transport fares (which were recently increased) are going to be hiked again to deter you from even using them as well, so that you instead use bicycles, to, of course, keep you in the pink of health and save you wealth!
Amid all this, the government appears to be totally carefree. The common people are busy hailing and hooting up the political parties and their candidates who have recently won or lost the local elections. Those who need to work every day to make their ends meet and those who have to pay taxes are simply worried, thinking ‘more holidays mean less work, low business'. This extra holiday every week means rewards for Civil Servant (Rastra Sevak) and punishment for tax-payer common man. But those who need to do nothing are simply glad by the news of a two-day weekend. It means 8 days a week for them. Arguments have been put forward for both for and against the government decision to go for a two-day weekend.
In order to preempt any misuse of its two-day holiday week policy, the government must make an announcement to ban the import of playing cards and liquor and need to have an eye on resort and hotel to stop unholy alliance between to wo different genders. Otherwise, the government’s policy to achieve more development through more holidays by increasing productivity would surely fail. Since the census carried out recently has pointed out minimum growth of population, it might help to improve population in the country as Rastra Sevak will get more leisure time at home. Now, would you still say that Nepal lacks far-sighted politicians and policy-makers? This two-day weekend policy is especially going to help the women in the country. Now they can wash clothes and clean the house on one day and sleep off the whole other day or go out. The two-day weekend policy will also promote domestic tourism, it is said. It seems we won’t even need foreign tourists to fill up hotel and resort! The policy will also help grow more vegetables in our gardens, they say. It means, we will either have to no longer import vegetables from India or it will drastically go down! Nepalis usually spend their holidays by sleeping, without eating much. So an extra day off means saving on food imports! That’s why the government has applied this ‘ninja technique’.
It is said that the actual reason why the government announced a two-day weekend was to lower the use of petroleum products. But it is being said now that instead of going down, petroleum use will rather double as everyone will travel to different places to make the best use of the two-day weekend! Besides petroleum, there is another commodity whose consumption needs to be checked. With India imposing a total ban on the export of wheat, the price of wheat has skyrocketed so much that it has gone beyond the reach of the average consumer. I, therefore, strongly appeal to the government to put forward another ‘holiday plan’ to check the import of wheat! Let the government announce the 'Fasting Day' to control the consumption of the food.
There is this theory called the ‘Hawthorne Effect’ in management. Though this theory says something else, once it is Nepalicised, it means more holidays mean more development through more productivity! Now, let’s gradually lower that further to 4 and 3 days a week. Maybe our productivity will keep rising accordingly!
But this is the government's angle- with a two-day weekend, if the rest of the world is increasing its productivity, why can’t that happen in Nepal? We all know that the entire developed world follows the policy of a two-day weekend. In our case, the only concern is what would it look like when all government offices will be closed while the private ones will remain open? In those countries which follow the policy of a two-day weekend, maybe they don’t have as many ‘other’ holidays as in Nepal? In Nepal, we have holiday on 'Holy Day' of each and every religion and ethnic groups existed in Nepal. And maybe they work to the fullest on week days. Or do they too just wait for the sun to set in order to go home?!
It would be fair enough to close the government offices like the CDO Office for the whole seven days a week if one did not have to go there to get one’s citizenship certificate, passport etc. - the way one doesn’t have to go to a bank to withdraw money. If you still insist that we need a CDO even to maintain law and order in society, then my response is that the task can be easily transferred to the police.
So, I don’t see the need to worry that much about the increase in the number of public holidays. Who knows, maybe it’s an opportunity in disguise! How much will closing all government offices for a whole extra day help control corruption in the country? I wish a statistician carries out a study to find out the answer to this question. Maybe keeping the government offices shut will help keep corruption at bay! As per the government’s latest decision, if we adopt the two-day (Saturday-Sunday) weekend policy, we will have 104 public holidays. Add to that the 46 ‘other’ holidays and you have 150 days of holidays a year. That means we will be ‘holidaying’ for almost half the year every year? On top of this, a government employee is entitled to 30 days of home leave, 12 days of sick leave and 12 days of festival leave a year. I am not counting here the public holidays announced by the government in the eleventh hour of the previous night when important foreigners visit the country or when the government is under pressure from vested-interest groups! So, work for six months and just don’t work for the remaining six!! Fair enough, isn’t it? More holidays, more development. So, because we can't do it in any other way, we can surely practice this unique model of developing the country by increasing the number of public holidays!
And again, it’s just that the government offices will be closed. Nothing else will happen. Why complain then? As if we don’t know how productive our government employees were when the number of public holidays was low! The government tried and toyed with the idea for sometime in the early 2000s too. So, there must be some mystery as to why the government has made the re-entry of the same ‘tried, tested and failed’ practice?
You might say, ‘In the current situation of economic slowdown, we should have been rather discussing how to decrease import and increase export?’ Let me remind you again - the government has adopted the policy of increasing both – the number of holidays and economic growth rate. You cannot doubt the government’s intention just because of the way our Prime Minister talks! Maybe the government has gone for a two-day weekend to increase productivity in terms of population, thinking that Nepal’s population is a bit low! Don’t you know the governments are far-sighted in our part of the world?
So, let’s see if productivity will increase as much as we increase the number of public holidays in the country. What’s at stake? Maybe the country has not been able to develop because there aren't enough public holidays, who knows? Now may be it will leapfrog in terms of development, when we just sit back and relax and do nothing for more than half a year? Is it not Kumbakarna Style (a mythical hero of Ramayana- the brother of King Ravana of Lanka who would sleep for six months a year and stay awake for another six months)?