India Centre declares Pongal a compulsory holiday

11:10  12 january  2017
11:10  12 january  2017 Source:   Pioneer

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After Jallikkattu, the bull taming sport held during Pongal (annual harvest festival), the festival itself has become a bone of contention between Tamil Nadu and the Centre . The seriousness of the issue could be understood from the fact that VK Sasikala, the general secretary of the ruling AIADMK, herself has taken the cudgels on behalf of the people of the State asking the Centre to declare Pongal as a compulsory holiday .

Since 14 compulsory holidays had to be given in a year, apart from three national holidays , there were representations from some Central government employees associations to declare Pongal also a compulsory holiday and hence it was declared so, only for last year. Further, only employees of essential services belonging to Railways, Postal, Central government hospitals, etc., comprising insignificant percentage would be affected this year. Even if the Centre declares compulsory holiday for Pongal this year

Chennai: The Central Government on Tuesday, gave into the demand of AIADMK General Secretary Sasikala Natarajan and changed the status of Pongal holiday from restricted to compulsory for the Central Government employees of Tamil Nadu.

This comes just a day after the Central Government changed the status of the Pongal holidays from compulsory to restricted, following which, Sasikala expressed disappointment over and urged the Centre to review the decision.

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“The centre ’s decision came as a huge shock. The Pongal festival, that used to be a compulsory holiday for the central government employees in Tamil Nadu, have been changed to restricted holiday ,” Sasikala said in a statement. Centre declares day of Pongal festival as Compulsory holiday after AIADMK Gen Secy Sasikala Natarajan wrote to Centre urging for same-AIADMK.

CHENNAI -- In a major boost to the ruling All India Anna Dravida Kazhagam (AIADMK), the Centre on Tuesday finally caved in to their demands and declared Pongal festival as a compulsory holiday . According to the AIADMK official Twitter handle, party general secretary V.K. Sasikala or Chinnamma as popularly called among followers, had urged the Central Government to roll back the announcement of Pongal as restricted holiday .

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam had also asked the Centre to add Pongal in the compulsory list of holidays. After Jallikkattu, the bull taming sport held during Pongal (annual harvest festival), the festival itself has become a bone of contention between Tamil Nadu and the Centre. The seriousness of the issue could be understood from the fact that VK Sasikala, the general secretary of the ruling AIADMK, herself has taken the cudgels on behalf of the people of the State asking the Centre to declare Pongal as a compulsory holiday.

"The decision comes as a big shock that Pongal festival, which was a compulsory holiday for the central Government employees in Tamil Nadu, has been made restricted holiday. It is a cultural festival being celebrated irrrspective of caste, creed and religions and it is the responsibility of the Centre to provide a holiday for the familes to celebrate," Sasikala had said.

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Central Government Employees and Workers in Tamil Nadu were up in arms against Pongal being converted into a restricted holiday .

After a big controversy broke out over Pongal being listed as a ‘restricted holiday ,’ the Centre has now declared Pongal as a compulsory holiday . This comes after Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam wrote to the Prime Minister requesting that Pongal be listed as a compulsory holiday . “This apparent diminution in the importance accorded to Pongal for the past several years has created disquiet and an impression that an important people’s festival of Tamil Nadu has been ignored by the Central Government,” Panneerselvam’s letter had stated.

She asked the Centre to realise and accept the rights and feelings of Tamils and give compulsory holiday for Pongal which is on January14.

MK Stalin, the DMK working president , came down strongly on the move by the Centre and alleged it as part of the communal policy being pursued by the BJP-led union Government. "It raises a big question over the secular ethos with the Centre already attempting to impose Hindi and Sanskrit upon the mother tongues of all the States from Kashmir to Tamil Nadu and by trying to drive communal principles through the New Education Policy. The removal of Pongal from the list of compulsory holidays list is nothing but a culmination of this," said Stalin.

K Veeramani, a Tamil chauvinist and proprietor of Periyar Maniyammai University described the move as act of forcing the Brahminical cultural ethos on the Tamil culture.

But a senior Central Government official termed the statements as 'much ado about nothing'.

"It was in 2016 Pongal was listed as a compulsory holiday as part of the rotation system. For the year 2017, it is another festival which has been declared as compulsory holiday. But this does not diminish the importance of Pongal as January 14 is a Saturday which is a holiday for central Government establishments. The move to makePongal a restricted holiday may affect the employees in the essential services of the Central Government which is a miniscule per cent of the Tamil Nadu population," he said.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Pioneer.

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