Modi and his Teachers’ Day in Manipur

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Students and teachers throughout the nation woke up on Friday morning to a different form of Teachers’ Day celebration. Since 1962, India has been celebrating Teachers’ Day on September 5, the birthday of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, the second President of India. Thursday saw schools rushing to give finishing touches to their preparations for the Teachers’ Day celebration, although the preparations were not just for festivities but for a speech to be delivered by the Prime Minister. School authorities were directed to ensure their students’ presence in the school premises during the Prime Minister’s speech on Teachers’ Day to be telecasted live on national TV. School authorities or rather the school heads of all government, aided and private schools including those under the district councils were directed to strictly adhere to the instructions provided to ensure necessary arrangements for TVs in their school campuses and to submit photographs and compliance reports of the said programme to the concerned authorities before 5.30pm of the same day. The Prime Minister’s speech was telecasted from 3 pm to 4:45 pm and included an interaction session of the Prime Minister with students of selected schools from across the country. This is a first for teachers and students of the entire nation, to be addressed directly by the head of the country on Teachers’ Day.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has once again managed to catch the attention of the entire nation with this endeavour. He has sort of achieved a feat even if a small one with his address to the students of the country. The concept is noteworthy, and many would construe it as an earnest attempt to motivate students who are the future of the country. At the same time, it could raise quite a few eyebrows as well.

The Prime Minister gave his speech in Hindi which doesn’t enjoy the same acceptance in the States lying in the north eastern or southern regions of the country as it does in the northern States. For the sake of argument, the entire insight of the Prime Minister’s speech could be lost in translation to the students of the first two regions who are mostly unfamiliar with the language. This would well be the same case, even if the teachers attending to the students were enterprising enough to attempt translating the speech. And in such a case, the students would have returned home only with the false sense of watching the Prime Minister address to them directly through the TV, without understanding much of the speech and its content.

At the same time, in States like Manipur where schools lack even basic amenities and infrastructure, asking students to sit through an entire speech, however motivating the speech is, could be quiet quixotic. Students protesting lack of amenities in their schools are frequent fixtures in the State. On September 4, as schools in the entire length and breadth of the country were busy giving final touches to their preparation for the D-Day, students of Ananda Singh Higher Secondary School were busy protesting and facing police lathi-charge as was reported in the local papers. And this is not a solitary case.

The end-point being, now that the Prime Minister has created a niche for himself among the student community of the country; it is time for him to look into the real problems the students face and improve the facilities provided in the schools.
Leader Writer: Wangkheimayum Bhupendra Singh

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