To mark the birth anniversary of president Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan Virswami, India celebrates Teachers’ Day on September 5. It is said that when Dr Radhakrishnan became President (1962-1967), his students and friends wished to celebrate his birthday. However, known for his humble nature, he requested, “Instead of celebrating my birthday, it would be my proud privilege if September 5 is observed as Teachers’ Day.” Since then, his birthday has been observed as Teachers’ Day.
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Radhakrishnan was born in 1882 in a town called Tiruttani in Andhra Pradesh. Though his father wanted him to take on the role of a priest, the boy’s talents brought him to Tirupati and later Vellore to study. He eventually joined Christian College, Madras, in order to study philosophy.
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He believed that the study of Indian philosophy and its interpretation in western terms would cast off the imperial inferiority complex and give Indians a renewed sense of self-esteem. As a professor at the Presidency College in Madras and the University of Calcutta, he was popular among students and was seen as an evocative teacher.
He later served as the Vice-Chancellor of both Andhra University and Banaras Hindu University and was recognised by Oxford University when he was called to fill the Chair of Spalding Professor of Eastern Religions. In 1939, he was elected Fellow of the British Academy. Radhakrishnan became the first Vice President of India in 1952 and took on the role of the nation’s second President in 1962 until 1967.
Apart from India, countries worldwide celebrate Teachers’ Day. In USA, Teachers’ Day is observed in the first week of May, while the UK celebrates it on October 5.
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