Sunday, November 21, 2010

An “unscheduled” holiday declared on account of an event can result in misery

I have to supplement my meager earnings in agriculture with work in an office in Colombo, which I had hoped would subsidize some of the shortfall. I get paid only for the days I work, and had the ignominy of having a day’s pay docked off because I had to attend two meetings, one with the head of some of the largest publicly held companies in Sri Lanka, and the other the chairman of one of the largest privately held companies, on account of trying to promote an agribusiness which will help the poorest sections of the farming communities in the Moneragala and Ampara districts. Their was little if any financial benefit for me on this, and was acting more as an introducer of the parties as both the esteemed gentlemen are known to me.

It was regretful when Friday, 19th of November was declared a holiday with barely a week’s notice, and despite the Government’s request that it be paid. That would not be the case for a daily paid person like me. This in addition to Wednesday’s Haj holiday, which was known in advance. It is in circumstances like this where monthly expenses do not fall on account of holidays, but income does, that actions of others affect us directly.

In no other country on the face of the earth, and certainly not in India which is our closest neighbor, that events such as the simple oath taking of a head of state in front of the chief justice, causes so much destruction, and inconvenience to people’s lives. If one were to take the proceedings of that day in toto, it certainly did not warrant the forcible closure of establishments, be they private or public or schools for that matter as it was technically a very short ceremony extended to include three languages, and justify the huge expense of the temporary construction and the attendees time and presence, most of whom would have done it out of duty rather than willingness.

To appreciate this inconvenience one has to work in the area, as my offices are at the World Trade Center and I take the bus, so the road blocks over days and the traffic jams take their toll in productivity and stress, especially as this is the third time this year that life was so disrupted, firstly for Independence, then for the Victory Parade and now for this. The rehearsals etc add to at least 12 days of inconvenience.

The vast schism between the public and private sector on this issue is apparently obvious, as most people making such decisions are blissfully ignorant as to how the economy and engines of growth of an economy operate. They are in the public sector and this is just a part of their daily routine; economic productivity being something alien at the time of writing, which I can only wish will change with enlightened leadership. Knowing many of the establishments that operate out of the World Trade Center, I can assuredly surmise that their contribution to the GNP of this country, per employee is about 50 times the national average per head. To put it in understandable English that would have exceeded the sum of all those who were seated in the temporary construction at the Presidential Secretariat that morning, who supposedly believe they are the VIPs of the nation.

We must therefore think (kalpanakaranna) before we make decisions that affect the lives of others especially when it relates to the brakes on development of this country

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