The government is planning an interaction between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and students to mark Teachers’ Day. It will be based on the format of last year’s mega event, officials said.
The meet at Maneckshaw Centre will be held on September 4, since Teachers’ Day and Janmashtami coincide on September 5 this year, the officials said. Janmashtami is a gazetted holiday. It was not immediately clear if written instructions had been issued in this regard.
Modi’s address to students on Teachers’ Day last year was beamed live in over 18 lakh government and private schools in the country, with 1,000 students present at the venue. The event had generated controversy as several states and opposition parties alleged that the Human Resource Development Ministry was putting pressure on schools and students to compulsorily attend the live telecast.
The HRD Ministry had issued a written directive to states asking all schools to make arrangements for the viewing of the programme, and stating it would take stock of the number of schools and children who did view the interaction. The circular had asked all schools to make arrangements to assemble students from 2.30 pm to 4.45 pm that day so they can view the PM’s address on TV. The circular stopped short of making it explicitly mandatory for schools to arrange for the viewing and for students to attend it, but it did make it clear that the ministry would seek a report of the number of schools and children who viewed the address.
The ministry had kicked up another row last year when it decided to observe December 25 (Christmas Day) as ‘Good Governance Day’ to mark the birth anniversaries of Madan Mohan Malaviya and former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, as it appeared that schools would not be closed for Christmas. The government had tried to defuse the controversy by claiming merely a “voluntary” online essay competition would be conducted, which does not require students to go to school, but it did not hold much traction.
According to a ministry circular, it had asked for other activities that clearly required the presence of students, including declamation and quiz competitions as well as documentary screenings, to be held that day across all schools.
Earlier this year, the decision of the Chief Justice of India to hold a three-day judges’ conference from Good Friday to Easter Sunday had also generated controversy, with Supreme Court judge Justice Kurian Joseph writing to the CJI in protest.