It's Christmas… the politics of public holidays

With Christmas and Boxing Day around the corner, I was asked whether India celebrated these holidays. Questions such as: do queue’s appear at petrol stations on Christmas Eve? are the supermarkets gridlocked? do the TV channels beam old classic films like Star Wars into their living rooms, like they do in Britain? Of course, not! India has its own unique way of doing things!

We shouldn’t forget that public holidays are decreed by parliaments in democratic nations and by virtue of this simple fact, politicians are often lobbied to extend their number. Groups of every nature and interest make the case every year that a national holiday would support the promotion of their cause. Luckily, in Britain, our MPs have resisted the call, but the situation in India is wholly different.

As a result of its religious diversity, India celebrates an exceptional number of public holidays, especially if you’re a civil servant. There have been suggestions that the number be curtailed to eight, but political compulsions and votebank politics trump common sense and at times economic progress.

Being a practical person, I’d advise those on vacation to visit India during one of the major holidays to experience the huge difference in the way festivals are celebrated. As a business traveller, you’d be stumped if you didn’t check the public holiday calendar before booking your tickets.