Updated: January 9, 2022 5:34:02 pm
Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma recently announced a one-time special leave so that government employees, officials and ministers could spend “quality time” with their parents and in-laws. The leave was sanctioned for January 6 and 7. Clubbed with January 8 and 9 (Saturday and Sunday), the employees would get four days off. The catch: employees had to share photographic proof of the “quality time”.
Bashab Chandra Kalita, Chief Advisor, Sadou Asam Karmachari Parishad, an association of government employees, speaks about the initiative.
1. What was your initial reaction to this announcement?
In our society, it’s our duty to take care of parents. Therefore, we welcome this announcement. These days, the Chief Minister’s Secretariat runs 24 hours a day and government karmacharis work very hard. Often they live very far away from their parents and families, and are rarely able to spend time with them. So it is a very, very good step.
2. Do you think it can be implemented properly?
While we welcome the decision, there is a logistical problem. The holiday comes just before Magh Bihu (13th, 14th, 15th), which is our most important festival. Employees will visit home during Bihu. For those who live far away from Guwahati (districts in Upper Assam or interior areas in Karbi Anglong), these dates are problematic because it takes more than a day to reach these areas. But they still have to attend office between the special leave and Bihu. Logistically, it makes little sense and will not give them much relief.
3. What could have been the alternative?
Some say that instead of granting leave, it would have been more helpful if the government had provided some financial assistance for medical treatment for ailing parents. Often, in case of lower-rung employees, their salaries are not enough to cover medical expenses.
4. What do you think of the requirement of photographic proof?
That is a great decision — it is quite possible that employees might take advantage of this special leave and misuse it.
5. Have many taken the special leave?
A lot of people, including ministers and senior bureaucrats, have taken leave. All said and done, people are happy about it.
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