Good Governance or Terrible Tolerance

We are at the mid of December today
and I have started counting as I do every year. Just 10 days to go for
Christmas, as I used to mark the countdown on the big calendar hanging in our
drawing room during my childhood days.

Those were the days; I used to be really
excited about the countdown as I knew it culminated in the day that meant the
exuberant enjoyment of life. Christmas for me, not only meant the birth of baby
Jesus, but a joy of abundant cheerfulness, cheeriness, merriment, joyousness,
delight and absolutely high spirits.
Vacations for me from school, but a
lot of home work to do before the schools reopened, the Christmas Carols that I
so anxiously await and be part of provided the sense of succour to me during my
troubled times.
Those were the days when Santa Claus
used to be my hero and my Mom would ensure that she kept that exciting gift for
me under the old and fading Christmas tree that used to adorn our drawing room
for the entire festive season. 
For years I used to wonder how my Mom could
convey to baby Jesus what gift I had wished for and had whispered in her ears
before she would put me to sleep and Uncle Santa would get me that under the tree
when I opened my eyes.
Those were the days when I used to
forget that I was not born a Christian, when my parents used to send me to the
midnight mass on Christmas Eve with our Christian family friends and their
Those were the days when the
Christmas brunch for all our family friends were at our house, since only my
mother could get up and prepare all those wonderful savouries that we all would
indulge our taste buds.
Those were also the days, when the
rustic old tape-recorder in our house, which we used to proudly call the
two-in-one, used to religiously play out all the Christmas Carols and the
Hanuman Chalisa and the Suprabhatam cassettes were given their well-deserved
annual breaks.
I do not need to explain my
religious affiliation to anyone but it makes better sense to clarify before I
go any further that every festival was welcomed by me and my family with equal
While Diwali was the time for family
gatherings, lights and lamps all around and of crackers and sweets, Eid used to
the occasion for me to relish invitations for lip-smacking Iftaars and the
mutton portions that our Muslim friends used to send us home remained my staple
dish for at least a week thereafter.
Holi was as much a merriment enjoying
being smeared in colours all over the body as much as I used to be captivated
and entranced by the chanting of the Gurbaani at the Gurudwara where my only Sikh
friend and his parents insisted that I accompany them on Guru Nanak Jayanti.
Those were the days when we were
governed by true sense of these festivities. Those were the real days of Good
Now when I look at the calendar to
mark the countdown, I am a bit perplexed. I see the date of 25th of
December marked in red for sure, but as Christmas and Good Governance Day.
This surely troubles me. Not because
it happens to be the birthday of two leaders of immense stature, Atal Behari
Vajpayee and Madan Mohan Malviya. Though grossly apolitical, I have reserved my
respect for these two political figures. I do not have any qualms in celebrating
their birthdays as holidays, as I am so used to even obscure reasons to do so
in our country.
It troubles me that the decision of
the Government to declare Christmas as Good Governance Day is a completely
unnecessary attempt to confuse the spirit of a festive occasion with political
I do not have any objection to
celebrating Vajpayee’s life and Pandit Malviya’s memories, but I have serious
objection when a grand festive occasion spread across the country be the date
of such celebrations.
I commend the promises, if not the
efforts of the Government to good governance. If the Government is really
committed to its promise, every day in the year should be the occasion to
promote the values of good governance without being obsessed with birth
anniversaries and forcing it upon others through the unabashed and blatant use
of Government machinery.
When I say this, I am not a
Christian or a Hindu or a Sikh or a Muslim. I am just an Indian who had always believed
and would continue to believe in only one religion, that the great saints and
all the religious books have taught us, which is called humanity, and today I
feel really hurt.

I feel hurt because this is certainly
not Good Governance. It is what I would say in plain and brazen words, Terrible

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