Students facing public examinations both at school-final stage and college as well as University levels are required to be present in the classroom showing recorded attendance for at least 75 per cent of the total number of working days. The relevant department has been announcing in the media on the eve of all public examinations, starting from SSLC, information with figures on the number of students disallowed to write the examination stating the reason as ‘shortage of attendance.’ Not to be permitted entry into the examination hall from Day-1 and thus losing one valuable year in the course of preparing for life as it were is an enormous cost of absence which most families find it beyond their limits of bearing distress caused to their growing children.
While it is beyond words to visualise the predicament in case of economically strained sections of society, the middle class families feel it as devastating. Grooming the teens into adulthood and upbringing in the contemporary competitive world compel vigilance of the parents on where their off-springs are present and when giving no room for absence at the appointed place and time.
The seeds of attitude towards scrupulously avoiding absence, in addition to utter neglect of punctuality even as a habit, are sown early in life to an extent that the expression ‘Indian Standard Time’ symbolises the all-too-familiar conduct of netas who are the compulsive chief guests at public functions.
The facility of availing different classes of leave such as a) Earned leave, b) Casual leave, c) Medical leave, d) Furlough leave, e) Leave on half pay and so on in addition to i) Sunday ii) Second Saturday, iii) Public holidays has prompted a keen analyst to present a graphic account of the enviable life of government employees who can be absent from work without facing any objection from the public whose servants they are supposed to be. The working of government offices thankfully owes it to that rare and rapidly shrinking species of staff described as workaholics, in whose lexicon the term absence (from workplace) doesn’t exist. The seriousness attached to unauthorised absence, from workplace, a feature of administration during the era of British Raj in the land, which old-timers recollect with unbounded nostalgia, rests in the land’s societal history. We are in an era of public servants absenting themselves from work unfazed by the cost of their absence burdening the hapless citizens.
In the context of objectively assessing the intimate connect between work and wages, the private sector in the economy has its own bag of worries dealing with the mass of country’s workforce in the sector staging strikes to press for fulfilment of their demands, amounting to unauthorised absence, the cost there to being estimated in the trillions of rupees annually. However, the just announced measure of six months maternity leave confers immunity to women employees from cost-based criticism, they being the source of future workforce.