Hospital Holidays to Shutting Down Meat Shops, a List of Govt Action Surrounding Ram Temple Event

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The Modi-led Union and BJP governments in states have taken on the responsibility of generating a brouhaha with official sanction over what is perceptibly a function for a section of a single religion.

That the January 22 event at the under-construction Ayodhya Ram temple – built on the site where the Babri Masjid was destroyed by Hindutva groups – is being politicised by the Bharatiya Janata Party is for all to see.

But the extent to which governments – notwithstanding the fact that they were elected by populations spanning religions and sects – have made it their business to issue official notifications, orders and directions leave no confusion over the fact that the ceremony on Monday is to be seen as a national one. 

While the Supreme Court order directs the Union government to set up the trust that is to construct the temple, the Union government under Narendra Modi and state governments under BJP have taken on the responsibility of generating a brouhaha with official sanction over what is clearly and perceptibly a function for a section of a single religion. 

Here is a list of all the government action surrounding the day – including ones which are bound to have an impact on taxpayers’ health and money. 

Hospitals to get half a day off

In a decision that The Wire has calculated will affect 32,000 patients seeking out-patient department appointments in just four of Delhi’s hospitals alone, all Union government-run hospitals issued notifications on January 20 evening saying that these hospitals will be shut till 2.30 pm on January 22 owing to the ‘pran pratishtha‘ ceremony at the Ram Temple in Ayodhya. However, after backlash, AIIMS has since revoked this decision and said it will remain open.

Many patients travel to Centre-run hospitals for expert care from corners of the country and abroad and appointments are given after punishing wait.

Half-day off for government employees

Union minister Jitendra Singh told news outlets that Union government employees will get half  a day’s leave on January 22 to watch the live telecast. The government has issued an official notification and employees will not need to log in before 2.30 pm.

The Left parties have said that this move is unconstitutional

Full day off in some states

Some Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled states have announced that the entire day is to be a holiday, and schools and colleges, along with all government offices, are to remain shut on the day.

Uttar Pradesh, Goa, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand, Tripura, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Assam have issued such orders. The administrations of the Union territories of Puducherry and Chandigarh – under direct control of the Union government – have given similar orders. 

Meanwhile, Odisha, under the Biju Janata Dal headed by Naveen Patnaik, has also given a holiday.

Money and stock markets to be shut

The Reserve Bank of India has announced that money markets will remain closed on January 22. A Mint report quotes the RBI as having said that there will be no transactions and settlements in government securities (primary and secondary), foreign exchange, money markets and rupee interest rate derivatives on that day.

Additionally, the National Stock Exchange and the Bombay Stock Exchange will also close on Monday. 

Cleanliness drives…in temples

The prime minister, Narendra Modi, has unveiled a cleanliness drive ahead of the January 22 ceremony. This is naturally a noble concept – except that by Modi’s own stipulation, it is to take place at temples around the country. A minute-long video uploaded on Modi’s official channels under the ‘Swachh Teerth’ banner, showed him engaged in cleaning activities at the Kalaram Temple in Nashik of Maharashtra.

Union ministers and BJP chief ministers have followed suit and participated in similar drives, uploading images of them sweeping temple frontyards from across India.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation – one of the richest civic bodies in the world – has also asked people to participate in a similar drive of cleaning temple premises. With over 10 million metric tonnes of waste, Mumbai recently featured among 10 of the world’s dirtiest big cities.

Non-vegetarian shops shut

The Rajasthan government, newly under Bharatiya Janata Party control, has issued a notification that meat and chicken shops will remain shut across the state on January 22.

The coercive and often violent action taken to shut down meat and chicken shops around Hindu festivals was earlier part of activities undertaken by Hindutva groups and their foot-soldiers. A government notification in this regard marks an escalation of an already punitive norm. 

Multiple studies have highlighted that no more than 38% of Indians are vegetarians. 

Power supply

Union energy minister A.K. Sharma has directed officials to ensure “uninterrupted high-quality power supply” during all the programmes related to the ceremony at the temple. He has asked rehearsals to be held so as to ensure there are no interruptions on the day.

Power cuts have been making news from across the country, especially in Jammu and Kashmir and in the south. 

Scheduled power cuts will take place across Telangana and especially in Hyderabad. 

The Times of India has reported today that power cuts in Sector 53 of Noida – in the same state of Uttar Pradesh as Ayodhya – has left people unable to switch on heaters as they grapple with the punishing cold. In addition, five to six hour power outages have left lung disease patients in a spot.

Free trains

Chhattisgarh, the government of which came under control of the BJP late last year, has received approval for free train travel to people interested in an Ayodhya pilgrimage. New Chief Minister Vishnu Deo Sai announced the decision on January 10.

A weekly train will cover this 900-km  journey.

The Indian Railways’ move to reduce sleeper and general coaches in favour of AC ones has led to complaints from frequent users of the former – especially immigrant workers – on how crowded passenger trains have become as a result. Images on social media show passengers forced to stand and sit in the aisles of packed coaches. 

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Disclaimer: Hospital Holidays to Shutting Down Meat Shops, a List of Govt Action Surrounding Ram Temple Event - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect point-of-view

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