Smriti Irani wishes schools Meri X’mas: hold events, upload video

Irani said all schools will remain closed for Christmas and essay competition will be “online” and is “voluntary”.

Written by Ruhi Tewari | Amitabh Sinha & D K Singhnew Delhi | Published: December 16, 2014 3:53 am
Irani at Parliament on Monday; the circular issued by the HRD Ministry. Irani at Parliament on Monday; the circular issued by the HRD Ministry.

As a controversy erupted over the Human Resource Development Ministry’s decision to observe December 25 as ‘Good Governance Day’, HRD Minister Smriti Irani tried to defuse the situation on Monday, saying that only a “voluntary” online essay competition, which did not require students to go to school, was being conducted.

However, her ministry had issued a circular last Tuesday asking schools to conduct a string of activities, including declamation, quiz competitions and documentary screenings on Christmas.

The ministry’s December 9 circular, which has been accessed by The Indian Express, states that it has been “decided to observe December 25, which is the birth anniversary of Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee and also Shri Madan Mohan Malaviya, as Good Governance Day”. Urging “active participation” of students in the Expression Series being organised by the CBSE, the circular says that “it is suggested that the celebrations during the day may also include” activities like “declamation contest on topics related to good governance, quiz competitions, screening of documentaries and films on best practices in good governance, organisation of various activities through child cabinets in the schools and innovative programmes pertaining to problem solving relating to day to day functioning of the school”.

“It is requested that a detailed report on the activities undertaken along with the photographs, video recordings may be uploaded on your departments’ website and also be sent to MHRD,” the circular states.\

Though the circular sent to bodies such as the Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti (NVS) and Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS) does not state December 25 will be a working day, the activities mentioned are such that they require students to be physically present in school.

A day after the ministry’s circular, the NVS issued one on December 10, asking its schools to celebrate the birth anniversary of Vajpayee and Malaviya “in its true spirit” by holding the activities listed in the circular. However, in a subsequent clarification on Monday, NVS commissioner G S Bothyal told the regional officers not to go ahead with the celebrations till the CBSE issues a circular in this regard.

KVS wrote back to the ministry on Monday expressing its inability to hold any events that require students’ presence since winter vacations begin before December 25.

In a press statement on Monday, the HRD Ministry clarified, “This online essay competition is completely voluntary and the students, if they so desire, can participate from their homes or any other place which provides online access. There is no requirement for any school to remain open on that day and the school vacations will be adhered to.”

It added, “No child or student will be deprived of celebrating the holidays or vacations or participating in their own festivals and religious festivals wholeheartedly.”

The ministry also said it had not issued any instructions to state governments.

In a series of tweets, Irani said all schools will remain closed for Christmas and the essay competition will be “online” and is “voluntary”.

Outside the Parliament, Irani told reporters, “It is unfortunate that misreporting has been deliberately done… controversy has been created to grab headlines… December 25 is Christmas and will be celebrated like that and schools will be shut.”

(With PTI)

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    Prasanna Kasthuri
    Dec 16, 2014 at 10:48 pm
    Best thing is not give any religion holidays. But ign 10 religious holidays and move on. It is very secular way of saying you have a right to celebrate but nor impose on all. This way all - Hindu or Muslim or Christian or others will get 10 religious holiday, who can use them for their own activity. Let the school, college, office run as usual. This way, those who are not celebrating will continue either their studies or their work without loss of time, education or business. How does this sound for secular minds ?
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      Prasanna Kasthuri
      Dec 16, 2014 at 10:40 pm
      Not very true, Dr. Anthony Williams. I have to agree with Sairam. In USA, we are not given a holiday for Diwali, although there are more than 3 million Indians (Out of 300 million), who are mostly Hindus. In USA, the holidays are based on Christian celebrations, as must be in a democracy. We all (Hindus) agree to this law of the land. Why not in India, which has more than 80% Hindus, have the holidays work around Hindu festivals ? In USA, we celebrate all our festivals in weekends not obstructing any work of main stream potion. It is a very good idea to give importance to majority feelings whether it is India or USA or Malayasia, as long as one has a religious freedom. Also, when only 5% of Indian potion celebrate Christmas, why is the need for a holiday for 95% of potion ? It is a waste of productivity. I feel if you follow USA or Europe as an example for all other reasons, you better follow same in India also. Singapore is a cosmopolitan city/country. You cannot compare this with a country like India. Don't compare Muslim Malayasia also, since it bans simple things like practicing Yoga for health reasons. So, think practical and productive not as a religious issue. If the majority is not celebrating and squandering the time, Don't you think it is a monumental national waste ? No one is stopping from anyone celebrating. But asking for a national holiday for 5% of people's religious celebration is a mive national waste of time. This kind things happens only India. Amazing.
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        Abdb
        Dec 16, 2014 at 5:18 pm
        My company (in Canada) respects my cultural preferences. I can swap my Easter Monday day off for Diwali if I wish to. My colleagues get paid time off for Eid, etc. So yeah, India looking after all its citizens is the way to go !!
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          Abhishek
          Dec 16, 2014 at 11:43 am
          Jews do not get Hanukkah as a holiday even in the US where they are 3% of the potion and highly influential.Here, we appease everyone not by doing anything but by declaring holidays.
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            Sairam Kannaian
            Dec 16, 2014 at 11:27 pm
            Better than yours. Because I have self respect for my country and culture and not sold out for a plate of rotten meat biriyani. South east Asia has historical connection to Hinduism before Islam took roots and so the potions cultural connections and civility. India invested its cultural riches and its civility all around East and was and still is a proud civilization for long period of its history. What happened to the country of immense importance in history? well we had some week ignorant and illiterate potion who collaborated with invaders and sold out their family for a cheap life style and free educational certificate. Invaders used that has tool to divide and conquer the country but the only country in the world survived from such cheap trick apart from few week dumb heads. Especially in the south western ghats of India where predominant tribal potion let themselves exploited by these invaders and e traders for cheap life style. Dumb head, India is a major power and has to ascertain its place in world. India is not Singapore or Malaysia where the political situation varies according to the geopolitics of the day. Such a immense diversity of the country has been kept together because of its way of lifestyle and its conviction which survived all the adversity it had gone through for a period of more than 1000 years. Now it is time for the people who were part of that conviction and to reap the award and have a say in its future. Not the dumb heads who keep changing and wavering for cheap money
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