Udupi: The official practice of declaring a public holiday every time a prominent person passes away in India has been so well established as to being almost considered a mandatory ritual connected with the obsequies.
It is no secret that a large number of the holiday-loving Indian populace is not averse to the idea and it looks as if they treat the death of highly-placed persons with a sense of celebration.
A joke has been around for decades that a good number among the organized sector of the working class keep track of ‘breaking news’ headlines waiting for someone or other to kick the bucket so that they could enjoy a holiday.
But former president Dr A P J Abdul Kalam was in a class of his own. Since the majority of the Indian population is within the age group of infancy to youth, he had a special concern for the youth of the country who would run the affairs of the state in the coming years. He advocated hard work and dedication and always exhorted the youth to follow the ‘aaram haraam hai’ philosophy.
When he passed away last week, the Union and state governments declared a holiday in a mighty hurry. But when it was realized that Dr Kalam had assertively wished that in the event of his death no holiday should be declared, the order was withdrawn equally fast.
What followed was what was expected – condolence meets, candle-light vigils and tributes. Whether the values he stood for and the patriotic fervour he espoused would be followed is yet to be seen.
The management of T A Pai English-medium School in Kunjibettu, Udupi has stood out of the set pattern by doing something unique. As a mark of true tribute to the great man, it has decided to remain open on following Sunday. Classes too might be held as on normal days.
It is earnestly hoped that everyone follows suit and the practice of declaring holidays when VIPs die is given up.
(Pics clicked in different parts of the country, sourced from PTI)