Low productivity nationally because of too many public holidays

India, being a culturally diverse and fervent society, celebrates various holidays and festivals. When it comes to public holidays, India holds two world records, which it could do without from a business perspective. Firstly, it has the most in the world (more than 20 per year), and secondly, each state and union territory has its own local holiday(s). There are only three national public holidays in India, and all the rest are regional.

Excessive public holidays hurt the economy and the financial system. When these holidays exceed the ‘reasonable limit’, the nation’s productivity is likely to be adversely compromised. It is also not often understood that intermittent and unplanned holidays can cause damage to the efforts designed to make the country’s financial and capital markets catch up with global trends. Holidays have an obvious impact on any company doing business in India, whether locally or remotely. These challenges are especially relevant for companies with outsourced IT or business processes who work remotely with their Indian counterparts, or meet face-to-face for international business meetings.

SLAs (Service Level Agreements) might guarantee year-round service, but not for individuals, which means that your key resources might not be available when you think they are. With a reasonable set of holidays and the usual weekends, it might be tolerable to keep pace even if somewhat slowly with modern banking. But in a country with inconsistent and large numbers of public holidays and non-working holidays, the nation’s financial growth could be stifled.

Indian holidays tend to be seen as a hinder to the flow of work. There is little interest in what they are, how they are observed, and what they signify culturally. It’s even rare to find accurate knowledge of Indian holiday calendars and for work with India to be planned around these calendars. The point here is that you have to think regionally. If you deal with four different cities in India, each in a different state, there will be slight differences in the holidays observed. As private companies have considerable latitude in selecting which holidays to observe, you also need to know what the holiday lists of the different companies are.

Having mentioned the negative impact, holidays are a boon too for certain sectors like retail, entertainment and travel & tourism, which thrive on such occasions in India. In other words giving people more time to shop can increase spending and in turn will have a positive impact on growth. Festivals like Dusherra, Id, Diwali and Christmas generate billions of India Rupees in the sales revenue every year.

India is a highly diverse country, and diversity presents many opportunities, from the workplace to the market. However, it also presents challenges. Religion and the workplace are becoming increasingly intertwined. More workers expect their religious beliefs and practices to be accommodated in the workplace, with days off to celebrate holidays and time during the workday to practice religious beliefs. Globally, these accommodations have long been common. Most countries have populations with a dominant religion with practices reflected in many aspects of the country’s life, including the workplace, public holidays, and societal values.

In general, it is clear that holidays are important, but perhaps not as important as the macroeconomic level as they are at the microeconomic level. Reducing the loss of business days can add significantly to the GDP, provide a stable environment for business, and most importantly, can help the poor earn that extra day’s income, which gets a miss on a holiday.