Smriti Irani
Smriti Irani

New Delhi :  In the Modi era, it is no longer Teachers’ Day on September 5th. It has now been rechristened as Guru Utsav. The change is not just in the nomenclature, but also in the celebration of the events.

Students and teachers cannot celebrate it in their own.They would have to line up for two hours before television screens from 3 pm to hear the Prime Minister’s words of wisdom. A statement from the Union Human Resource Minister Smriti Irani has said that this is not compulsory, and the issue is being unnecessary politicised. But the directive to schools did not leave anyone in doubt that all students from Class I to 12th would have to attend it compulsorily and school managements also did not have a choice. The directive was so detailed that it had listed the measures to be adopted by schools that did not have television sets or were deprived of electricity to arrange for generators.

The West Bengal government has made it clear that it does not intend to follow this directive and would be celebrating the event in its own way. There is a possibility that other non-BJP ruled states may also follow this path,

Prime Minister Modi has a penchant for doing things that have never been done before and his live address to students across the country would also have touched a similar landmark. Even as the BJP defends the right of the Prime Minister to address the students, it transforms him being the prime servant to the prime teacher, the opposition has cried foul.

“It is a political image-building exercise. One does not know what kind of message would be imbibed by the students of Class 1,2 and 3, who can barely understand such things. It is harassment for the kids to make them stand for two hours,” said Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi.

The political parties from South have also criticised the decision to change the nomenclature from Teachers’ Day to Guru Utsav, on the grounds that it promotes Sanskrit, and ignores Dr S Radhakrishnan a Tamilian.

The opposition comes not only from political parties that view it as an image building PR exercise on part of the Prime Minister but also from school managements even in urban areas like Delhi. The directive from the Delhi Directorate of Education has asked all heads of schools to make available the requisite number of televisions, set-top box connections, projectors, screens, amplifiers and generator sets or inverters on hiring basis, if these are not available in the schools.” This puts a burden on the schools and also disrupts their logistics on Teachers’ Day,” said a school principal.

Normally, the activities are over by mid-day and then the students and teachers are engaged in fun activities. The 3-5 pm slot is pretty difficult for the schools to manage in terms of transportation and other details. They have even suggested that the schools should have the option of recording the event, and holding a show as per their convenience.

Anil Sharma

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