Centre’s move on Teacher’s Day comes under attack

As the government's decision came under attack, Smriti Irani met the media twice on the day to do damage-control.

By: Press Trust of India | New Delhi | Updated: September 1, 2014 5:14 pm
HRD Minister Smriti Irani described the opposition as "regrettable" and made it clear that the students' participation in the interaction is "voluntary". (Source: AP photo) HRD Minister Smriti Irani described the opposition as “regrettable” and made it clear that the students’ participation in the interaction is “voluntary”. (Source: AP photo)

The Centre’s move to celebrate Teacher’s Day as ‘Guru Utsav’ and the planned interaction of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi with school children on that day have kicked up a controversy with opposition Congress and others, including BJP allies MDMK and PMK, slamming the government.

However, HRD Minister Smriti Irani described the opposition as “regrettable” and made it clear that the students’ participation in the interaction is “voluntary”.

Congress leader Manish Tewari termed the renaming of the day merely a “packaging” exercise and said the government is trying to “change packaging and labelling and then tryign to pass them off as innovative initiatives”.

Two of BJP’s Tamil Nadu allies today joined DMK opposing naming Teacher’s Day as ‘Guru Utsav’, with PMK terming it as a discreet attempt to impose Sanskrit.

Leaders of PMK and MDMK, S Ramadoss and Vaiko, demanded that the Centre immediately withdraw the order to rename Teachers’ Day as ‘Guru Utsav.’

DMK chief M Karunanidhi had already opposed the move, alleging that it was a conspiracy to downgrade Tamil language and society.

As the government’s decision came under attack, Irani met the media twice on the day to do damage-control.

She said government has not changed the name of the day celebrated as Teacher’s Day on the occasion of the birth anniversary of the late President S Radhakrishnan.

The Minister said it was an essay competition named ‘Guru Utsav’ to celebrate teacher’s contribution and “if anybody who has objection to the fact that teachers are to be revered is an objection that I regret”.

If the essay competition celebrating teachers is opposed, “what appals me that somebody who would not want teachers or the very foundation of our society to be revered and respected”, she told reporters on the sidelines of a function here.

While welcoming Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to interact with students on September 5, coinciding with Teachers’ Day, Ramadoss however opposed the day being called as ‘Guru Utsav.’

“The Central government should realise that national integration will be strengthened only if the identities of various languages and cultures are promoted,” he said.

The HRD Minister also regretted opposition from some states to the PM’s speech to the students.

“This particular activity is voluntary in nature. If there is any controversy in this which is being politicised, I would say it is regrettable,” she told reporters when asked that some states were opposed to the Centre’s directive to all states to ensure the speech is heard by every student.

States like West Bengal have voiced dissent over entire exercise, with the state’s Education Minister Partha Chatterjee saying they have little time in making necessary arrangements for it.

The timing of the PM’s speech from 3 pm to 4.45 pm has also come under attack from parties like Congress.

“If the PM wants to share his pearls of wisdom with the children of the country , at least we could have was adjusted the speech timing to the school timings, rather than making students stay back after school and inconvenient them and their parents,” party leader Manish Tewari said.

Modi will give a pep-talk to about 1,000 selected students at the Manekshaw Auditorium here on September 5 and interact with them, taking some questions through a video conferencing facility.

The programme would be beamed live to over 18 lakh government and private schools in the country via all Doordarshan and education channels.

“We have made arrangements that this interaction can be transmitted is relayed through education transmission channels of all states, through the internet and is also recorded for those who want to see it later,” the HRD Minister said, adding this was the first time in history where the PM was directly interacting with students.

The Teacher’s Day celebration would be unique in nature where on one hand the President will be awarding best teachers and on the other hand the PM will directly engage with students, she said.

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First Published on: September 1, 2014 5:12 pm
  1. B
    Sep 5, 2014 at 4:14 am
    Keep calm & Ignore the speech
    1. P
      Sep 2, 2014 at 10:40 am
      Wow....So, people can really be brainwashed into believing anything The entire state seems to be in denial
      1. M
        Sep 1, 2014 at 2:17 pm
        if we suggest a tamil phrase are you ready to accept it ?
        1. A
          Sep 1, 2014 at 11:54 am
          DMK and PMK are ok on imposition of English but not Sanskrit? Instead suggest a Tamil phrase?
          1. R
            Sep 5, 2014 at 11:04 am
            This is not true. It is what you want to believe. If it is truth give the facts. Sanskrit is the oldest language. All the other main languages are derived from Sanskrit. We as well as tamils and other south indians believe in Ramayan, original mcript written in sanskrit then later translated. It was not brahmins who came from outside, it was aryans. Otherwise tell me how come tamils have brahmins among them. No one knows for certain that where the aryans came from, not even the great historians. There are numerous theories but no evidence. If you have the divyadrishti which historians don't have then you could be right.
            1. R
              Sep 5, 2014 at 10:48 am
              that is why you can't spell school or may be in your language it is scahool.
              1. S
                Sep 1, 2014 at 2:48 pm
                I am surprised very few know why the tamilians are opposing sanskrit and hindi. Tamil was one of the earliest languages used in india and sanskrit and hindi are not truly indian and is connected with migrations from west Asia. Brahmins are thought to be coming from Iran who started influencing india towards the last 10 centuries and they brought in these languages. Tamil was spoken all over in india but now remains only in tamil nadu. just like nagas who were the main tribe in india is now left only in nagaland.
                1. S
                  Sep 5, 2014 at 11:40 am
                  I suggest you google for " A social history of India" by S N Sadashivan. You can learn about Brahmins in each state and how they came about. Secondly Sanskrit is one of the most perfect language in the world. Isn't nonsensical to believe that first language version in human history is a perfect language like sanskrit? You do know about the evolution of any technology or knowledge, right? You must understand how a language is developed. It does not become perfect because too many people are involved in its evolution.Languages like Hindi, kannada, malayalam etc are all about 700 years old. It is even later than Sanskrit but not as good, why?The reason is that sanskrit was developed in a controlled closed system for knowledge preservation and dissemination. The purpose was to keep knowledge exclusive.
                  1. M
                    Mahesh Naik Mahesh Naik
                    Sep 1, 2014 at 1:22 pm
                    How can any organ of state force a student to even 'see or hear' and individual ..even if he is the head of state.It is NOT done .I remeber in my school days in a central scahool I had refused to go and mark attendance for the then %^& Lady P.M.
                    1. V
                      Venkatanarayanan Krishnan
                      Sep 1, 2014 at 5:20 pm
                      Whoever said that guru or utsav don't have link to Tamil doesn't know Tamil.
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