Sunday, 21 September 2008

Fasting month in Jakarta

It's that time of the year again. My drivers are fasting,the maids are fasting, so are the rest in my office.

In Indonesia, which prioritizes religion over everything else, fasting is a God given right. Efficiency and productivity is down; people call in sick; people arrive late for work - all these are "acceptable" and "understandable".

I've been told by a Moslem friend in Indonesia that fasting is God's test of one's resolve. He says that things are different in the Middle East, where everyone works only half a day at most during the Ramadhan fasting month. But in Indonesia, the Moslems supposedly believe differently - during Ramadhan, one is supposed to carry on life as usual.

There are numerous interpretations - understandably. I'm not a Moslem so it would not be fair for me to comment on their practises.

However, if we go by the norms promulgated by renowned economists and theorists, I would expect that Moslem nations observing the holy month of Ramadhan should have devised policies which will ensure that their working population contribute more during the other months just so they can make up for the losses in productivity and efficiency of the fasting months.

I don't have statistics to delve further into this; but from observation, I don't think any policies have been put in place. At least not in Malaysia and Indonesia. I'm not even sure that Malaysia and Indonesia have any yardsticks or benchmarks to effectively measure productivity, fasting or not fasting.

Perhaps that's something the authorities can consider and come up with an effective solution in this era of globalisation and supposedly fair competition?

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