New Delhi: In a welcome show of public welfare, the Central government today announced the shifting of this year’s Independence Day celebrations to August 16 and declared it a public holiday.
This widely-appreciated and strategic move nips in the bud the national crisis emerging out of the fact that the actual Independence Day of August 15 this year falls on Sunday, which, therefore, threatened the Constitutional guarantee of ensuring national holidays on weekdays (if possible telescoped into the weekend).
A spokesperson from the Prime minister’s Office, quoting a spokesperson of Sonia Gandhi’s office (by which we obviously mean the Prime Minister) said that the decision to shift the Independence Day celebrations to August 16 was taken at a high-level meeting chaired jointly by Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, and Rajiv Gandhi (who joined in the proceedings through a state-of-the-art planchette facility).
The meeting discussed the crisis threadbare and had initially planned to advance the Independence Day celebrations to August 13. But the Solicitor General, the Attorney General and the Supreme Court security pointed out the Constitutional problems inherent in advancing the celebrations to August 13, which happens to fall on a Friday. Most government employees don’t come to office on Fridays, they said.
‘Article 22/7 of the Constitution explicitly prevents granting of holiday to people who are already on leave,’ the Solicitor General pointed out and presented several historical precedents, including the case where they had to ‘observe’ February 30 and announce it as a holiday in the year 1973 because of the fact there was a drought of holidays in that month because it had only 28 days to start with.
The government apart from shifting the Independence Day to August 16 and declaring it a holiday, also promised to look into the long-pending demand of abolishing Mondays and merging them totally either with Saturdays or Sundays.
Anyway, the shifting of Independence Day to August 16 this year is expected to benefit all the millions and millions of government employees, who were, however, not available for comment as they were on strike, demanding, among other things, ex-gratia, salary, solatium, bonus, incentives, stipend, dividend, premium, advance, ad-hoc payment, grant, baksheesh, to tide over the expenses inevitably incurred on national holidays.
However, according to highly-placed sources in the PMO, the government is most likely to come up with a comprehensive fiscal stimulus package to employees forced to enjoy government holiday. The package is going cost the National Exchequer a sum of Rs190, 7890,67,099 lakhs of crores. Finance Ministry sources said that this expense would be funded by money represented by the new symbol for the rupee.
Meanwhile, it has also emerged that the government is ready with a slew of welfare announcements for the Independence Day. One of the aam aadmi schemes is the mandatory free Platinum Amex Card (PAC) to all the citizens of India to go with the Unique Identity Card (UIC) that will come into operation soon. The free credit card is expected to empower the aaam aami with the capitalistic privilege of default on bank payments.
If the free credit card scheme becomes a huge success, it will be a huge fillip to the government which is shortly expected to launch its next social sector plan of making salary to citizens free and compulsory.
In another socially enterprising move, the government, which is running the various channels of Doordarshan through Prasar Bharathi, also decided to float a full-fledged film production house, named Rajiv Film Circuit (RFC). The motive of this new film production company is to help bring a new life to the moribund film industry in the country.
Asked whether this will undercut the operations of the existing National Film Development Corporation (NFDC), a government spokesperson said that there was a vital qualitative difference in the working of RFC and NFDC. ‘NFDC funds directors like Shyam Benegal, Adoor Gopalakrishnan to make movies. On the other hand, RFC will fund directors like Shyam Benegal, Adoor Gopalakrishnan to not make movies so that the audiences remained awake to enjoy other films’.
Bowing to the lofty demands of the social-minded individuals, the government is also expected to remove the Saffron colour from the Indian national flag. An official communiqué discounted the theory that the government was bowing in to the demands of the minority lobby. ‘We have chosen to remove the Saffron colour, as it has come to be seen as a representation of the country’s strong traditions in pan-chewing and spitting,’ said the communiqué. The government originally was to remove the green and white colours too as they were seen to represent nothing much in particular. But that would have rendered the national Flag invisible, which would have rendered the country’s President even more invisible, as the only recognisable work the President does is to hoist the National Flag on the Republic Day.
On the international front, on the occasion of the country’s Independence, India is to make a strong case for linking all the oceans and seas of the world. Asked what benefit will accrue from linking the seas, which, in a sense, are linked, an Indian External Affairs officer replied matter of factly that the UN was running out of matters for interesting discussions. ‘We’re forever struck with Kashmir or Afghanistan or Somalia or Israel and Palestine. Even the UN canteen guys don’t turn up on meeting days now. We need to change that. Hence the subject of linking the oceans ,’ he pointed out.
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