By: Radhika Sharma
Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was a great president, a thorough academician, a serious philosopher, and an outstanding teacher. His students loved him for who he was much before he became a national gem. When in 1962 he became the president, his enthusiastic students wanted to celebrate his birthday as 'Radhakrishnan Day', but the humble president said "Instead of celebrating my birthday, it would be my privilege if September 5th is observed as Teachers' Day." And since then, every year we take this day to thank our teachers and show our love and respect to them. But does it make it the only day to actually thank and revere our teachers?
Certainly, no one can explicitly deny the fact that the teaching fraternity is unhappy with the kind of impression that the profession has formed over the years. On one hand where we owe all our achievements in life to the teachers who groomed us from the beginning, and on the other as we are progressing with the advancements of life, we are unable to maintain the same stature of honor for our dedicated teachers. The overall profession is being questioned from every end.
The teaching fraternity is not questioning the behavioral changes seen over the years, but the changed perspective of the society towards their vocation. They are frightened about the way things are turning out these days where teachers are being held accountable for any mishap even beyond their control. Organizations like National Progressive Schools Conference and Action Committee Schools have decided to call down the celebrations this Teachers' Day, whereas the Delhi State Schools' Management Association is carrying out a peace march at Jantar Mantar to protest against the misuse of the 'POCSO Act'.
The purpose of such an initiative is to ensure that the teachers are safeguarded against the unjust treatment at the hands of the authorities. Ms. Ameeta Wattal, Principal, Springdales has communicated to Mail Today that "In no way do we condone acts of negligence or free ourselves of our responsibilities but we do seek legal safeguards." Whereas, Ms. Sadhna Bhalla, Chairperson, National Progressive Schools Conference, said "It is with deep sadness that we have taken this decision to scale down celebrations on Teachers' Day, as a silent reflection of the pain and the travails of being a teacher today." We all need to think why we are unable to maintain the culture of guru-shishya or at least give our teachers the honor their hard work and dedication deserve. Can we not be thankful to the people who have contributed in making 'Us' much beyond their assigned 'duties'? Let's join hands together and lead our way to positive education, today and tomorrow.
Last, but not the least, I would like to tell you a short excerpt from the life of Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. Our favorite president often ended his speech with the question, 'What would you like to be remembered for?' He would end by saying "Tonight, before you go to sleep, take a piece of paper or your laptop. Write down the answer to this question and mail it to me. If your answer is good, I will send you an autograph and a photograph." Once, one of his students, Srijan Pal Singh, who quotes this anecdote in his book "What Can I Give?: Life Lessons from my Teacher, APJ Abdul Kalam," asked him, "Why don't you answer this question for a change? What would you like to be remembered for?... Let me make it easier for you. Would you like to be remembered as a missile man, a nuclear man, a rocket engineer, a Bharat Ratna recipient, a President or an author?" To which, our late President replied, "All your options are wrong. The right option is not there in your list. I do not want to be remembered for any of these things. I want to be remembered as a teacher. That is my goal." This is the kind of student-teacher relationship we are talking about, and this is the honor of being a teacher we want to bring back. To all the teachers, we are with you, now and forever.