Most government offices remained open in Kerala on Sunday as a mark of respect to the former President APJ Abdul Kalam, who died last week.
A doer and dreamer in his lifetime, Kalam had once told an audience at a function in the state that those who loved him should work an extra day after his death. He had also requested the government not to declare a holiday.
At least five district collectorates - Thiruvananthapuram, Alapuzha, Ernakulam, Malappuram and Kannur collectorates - registered 80 per cent attendance. Some government employees said they would also work next Saturday, which otherwise would have been a holiday for being the second Saturday of the month.
“I was on medical leave for a week. Still I thought I should attend office on Sunday to pay my respect to him. Nobody told me to do this. Our politicians will have to learn a lot from Kalam who lived his life for the country,” Thankam Nambiar who came to attend office in Kannur (north Kerala) said.
In a state where parties and organizations call hartals and work disruptions at the drop of a hat, this was a welcome change.
Some confusion, however, preceded the working Sunday. After state chief secretary Jiji Thompson announced on social media that Sunday would be a working day, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy immediately clarified that the government didn’t take such a decision. Many attributed this to opposition from the church. Recently the Catholic church had deplored the central government’s plan to hold important functions on Sundays. It had also opposed the government’s decision to observe ‘Yoga Day’ on a Sunday.