All schools and colleges across Uttar Pradesh (UP) were closed on Friday on the occasion of Ambedkar birth anniversary.
Next year, the schools may well be open on the day, or for that matter on birth and death anniversaries of other great men with UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath disapproving of holiday politics, blatantly pursued by his predecessors Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav.
Instead of full classes the schools may hold special function to educate students about the personality whose anniversary falls on the day, the chief minister mooted on Friday. Interestingly, Samajwadi Party national president Akhilesh Yadav had justified public holidays in memories of great leaders.
“Public holidays on the occasion of birth anniversary of great personalities are necessary so that communities can celebrate and remember their leaders,” he had stated while announcing a holiday on the birth anniversary of saint Nishadraj during a conference of 17 backward castes at the party office on February 16.
Yogi has a different take.
At a function on the Ambedkar’s anniversary at the Lucknow’s Ambedkar Mahasabha office, he said, “Though some may not like it but this concept of closing schools on birth and death anniversaries of great men must end. On many occasions children aren’t even aware of the purpose of the holiday defeating its whole purpose.”
The CM suggested schools should hold special programmes on the occasion to make students aware of the life and times of great men.
The CM said, “Frequent holidays mean that instead of mandatory 220 working days classes are held for just about 140 odd days. This isn’t correct for the students hardly get any time to assimilate what they learn.”
UP has nearly 38 public holidays, including about 19 on the occasion of birth and death anniversaries of great men. From former Prime Minister Chandrashekar to the legendary warrior Maharana Pratap and from Maharishi Nishadraj to Karpoori Thakur and even on the occasion of Hazrat Ajmeri Garib Nawaz urs, UP’s holiday list has continued to grow, mainly over the past 15 years.
There has been nearly 50% increase in public holidays over the past decade with political parties largely using these holidays to make a political point.
A little before the 2017 UP polls, the Akhilesh Yadav government declared holiday on October 31, on the occasion of Sardar Patel birth anniversary; a decision many felt was taken to woo the Patels or the kurmis who constitute nearly 7% of the electorate in the state. In 2012, Akhilesh Yadav government had come under sharp attack from Mayawati after the SP government had cancelled the October 9 holiday on the death anniversary of BSP founder Kanshiram describing it as “anti-Dalit” mindset of SP leadership.
Teaching fraternity, meanwhile, welcomed the CM’s move. “It’s a welcome move. We all used to feel that such holidays hardly left anytime for students to learn and teachers to teach,” said Professor Manoj Dixit, head of the Public Administration department of Lucknow University.