Diwali better than Christmas to celebrate Good Governance Day

Who cares if people in the Christian-dominated Northeast are feeling further alienated from 'mainland' India.

 |  3-minute read |   23-12-2016
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants the nation to observe December 25 — birthday of former BJP prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee — as Good Governance Day. But the decision (taken in 2014) to ask people to work harder on the day Jesus Christ was born has met opposition from a number of Christian organisations in the Northeast.

Even though this may sound clichéd — and much to the chagrin of the honest government staff in the rest of "sanskari" India — people in the Christian-dominated region are feeling further alienated from "mainland" India.

Observing Good Governance Day would need government employees to remain present in office on Christmas — a gazetted holiday (so what!). A number of groups, including Church bodies and Nagaland chief minister TR Zeliang, have urged the PM to reconsider the decision, while BJP state units too have been forced to assure people that they wouldn't impose Good Governance Day in the region.

christmas-body_122316090446.jpg Christmas celebrations in Guwahati. (Credit: PTI file)

Even in Goa, chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar earlier said there were no plans to celebrate the Good Governance Day on December 25 this year and that all government offices would remain shut on December 24 and December 25.

So instead of spoiling the holiday mood, here’s what the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) should try doing — make Diwali as the Good Governance Day. No? Well, there are some good reasons.

For one, Diwali symbolises the start of Ram Rajya. For those who skipped history lessons in school, Ram Rajya was the ideal administration of the Hindu king Ram, where peace and prosperity reigned, where there were no wars and where the rulers and the subjects were equal.

Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party has been promising to bring back Ram Rajya, which may have been 10,000 years ago, to the 21st century for many years.

In fact, it has talked about Ram Rajya at least since 1990 when the now ageing and confined-to-the-sidelines loh purush Lal Krishna Advani embarked on his famous Rath Yatra from Somnath in Gujarat to Ayodhya — Ram’s birthplace — in Uttar Pradesh.

Rath Yatra, for those with short-term memory loss, led to the demolition of the Babri Masjid, Mumbai riots and thousands of killings — and a few years later, the first BJP-led government at the Centre in 1998.

Another reason for celebrating Diwali as the Good Governance Day is that it is the most important festival of the Hindus, whose share of the population is nearly 80 per cent — almost 35 times that of Christians.

This means almost everyone can take part in the movement and the impact of the Good Governance Day will be that much more as the largest segment of the population can now use the opportunity it was deprived of thus far, instead of just squandering their time and money on bursting crackers.

That brings us to our third reason. Diwali is, at least in India, not only the most-polluted time of the year with millions of Indians burning crackers but it is also a time to exchange gifts.

While a box of sweets doesn’t hurt, it’s the gifts which corporate houses give to government officials, bureaucrats, politicians and mediapersons in anticipation of favours that put a question mark on people's integrity.

Declaring Diwali as the Good Governance day will reduce both air and noise pollution, as well as ethical and moral pollution the festival is now known for.

Also read: What it was like growing up at a time of insurgency in Assam

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Sanghamitra Baruah Sanghamitra Baruah

Works at DailyO.

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