For hundreds of students from Delhi and across India, this Teachers’ Day turned out to be so much more than fancy dress competitions and sombre speeches. For over two hours, they heard none other than President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi share notes and anecdotes about their school days.
The candid accounts and fond reminiscences by the two leaders made students realise that they were “not very different from us”.
“You look at leaders like the Prime Minister and the President and you wonder what they must have done to reach that level. But today I could relate to them; I realised that they are not very different from us. Like when the Prime Minister spoke about how he used to try to clean his dirty canvas shoes with chalk …I could identify with all that because I used to do the same,” said Puneet, a student from Mount Abu School in Rohini.
Watch Video: PM Narendra Modi Interacts With Students On The Eve Of Teachers’ Day
While 800 students and 60 teachers from various schools participated in the event in the capital, students from nine other states joined in through video conference. The achievements of several students were highlighted with short films, after which they got a chance to pose questions to the Prime Minister.
“Teachers’ Day is usually about children dressing up and indulging in a bit of fun. This year, however, it was different as the children got a chance to not just watch the Prime Minister through a live screening, but also the President. This does not happen every day,” said Jyoti Arora, principal of Mount Abu School.
During his speech, when the PM emphasised that parents should not force their career choices on children, his message resonated with many students.
“I especially liked that part…he addressed a fact that we face every day and that impacts the aspirations of youth like me. I don’t think a political leader has interacted this personally with students,” said Shamboli Khurana, another student.
To a question on parents inflicting their career choices on students, Modi had replied, “I have asked my officials to explore how students can replace character certificates with aptitude certificate, so that they can go for a career of their choice.”
Shortly after the PM’s interaction, President Pranab Mukherjee, who was a college teacher and a journalist before he joined politics in 1969, shared lessons from the country’s political history with students of class 11 and 12 at a school in Delhi.
“We want our leaders to interact with us and we like interacting with them. Teachers’ Day was different…it is a good idea to have a day in the year when things like this happen,” said Akshay Anand, a student.