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New UP order: District Magistrates can decide on half day
Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow | February 20, 2004 20:53 IST
Last Updated: February 20, 2004 21:01 IST
Though Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav was compelled by widespread opposition to withdraw his order on closure of schools every Friday noon for facilitating namaz, a fresh order issued empowers district magistrates to take a decision on closure of schools 'on the basis of local conditions'.
Your Say: Did Mulayam withdraw it due to pressure?
Mulayam's move was flayed in the state assembly with opposition members slamming the government for not taking the house into confidence.
Mulayam's decision, though, would not have made much of a difference in terms of the work schedule of schools. Uttar Pradesh schools on an average have an 1100-hour schedule every year spread over an academic calendar of approximately 189 days. Half a day off every Friday would have not have cut more than 72 hours from it.
The state schools observe a closure of about 176 days (including Sundays) in a year.
Maulana Khalid Rasheed, the Naib Imam of Lucknow's Idgah, welcomed the decision to withdraw the order. He told rediff.com: "Undoubtedly, there has to be a political game behind the move and one can clearly see that Mulayam Singh Yadav is once again out to woo Muslims, whom at one point of time he seemed to be taking for granted."
Renowned Shia scholar Maulana Kalbe Jawaad holds similar views. "I do appreciate the move and the whole idea behind it appears rather shallow to me," he said. "I fail to understand how many Muslims would it have benefitted as all madarsas and Islamic-run educational institutions were already observing their weekly off on Fridays"
Housewife Andaleeb Ahmed remarked, "I suspect a larger political design behind the move. While it was amply evident that Mulayam intends to woo back his fast eroding Muslim vote bank, it could also indirectly help the BJP to consolidate its Hindu hardline voters. None seem to be bothered about the ill-effects it might have on the common man's psyche."
Many students were also happy with the 'half day off' decision. Ashish Singh, a class XI student of Lucknow's Government Intermediate College, said, "Two hours less teaching on Friday will mean loss of nearly three periods, which means a lot to those who were appearing for their board examinations."
Rahul Srivastava, a class XII student of Jubilee Intermediate College, observed, "If this had been done then it was bound to give rise to similar demands from different quarters -- Hindus, Sikhs and maybe Christians as well."
UP Secondary Teachers Union secretary R P Misra said, "These decisions should be left to principals of institutions, who should be given the right to decide on their daily schedules according to their own local conditions."
"The government should keep out of such business," he added.
More reports from Uttar Pradesh
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