The Rajasthan education department has made it compulsory for all government teachers appointed after December 13, 2013 to attend a state-level Teachers’ Day celebration in Jaipur on September 5. This cut-off date ensures that teachers who were appointed after the BJP government came to power must attend the programme.
The Opposition slammed the move, asking how the Vasundhara Raje-led government could differentiate between teachers appointed during various regimes.
“All teachers who were newly appointed after December 13, 2013 have to compulsorily participate in the celebration,” reads a directive issued on Thursday by the district education officer in Bharatpur district. It also states that the identity cards of all such teachers be made and block education officers hold meetings with nodal headmasters to ensure this.
Raje had taken oath on December 13, 2013, and the day marks the start of the term of the incumbent government.
A directive issued by the same authority in Bharatpur on Wednesday, which was subsequently withdrawn, said that all such teachers who do not attend the programme on September 5 would lose one day’s salary.
“We have withdrawn this directive and issued a new directive today, taking back what was said about salary deduction,” District Education Officer, Bharatpur, Ramkesh Meena told The Indian Express on Thursday.
The revised directive states that though it is still compulsory for the teachers to attend the event, those who have disabilities or are suffering from diseases can give the event a miss, along with pregnant women and those who face an emergency.
Another directive by the district education officer of Hanumangarh mentioned that all teachers taking part in the programme are forbidden from wearing black clothes, and even black shoes, belts and socks. However, senior education department officials said this order was also in the process of being withdrawn.
Teacher unions strongly objected to the orders, describing them as “undeclared emergency” in the education department. “Such restrictions on clothes and threats to deduct a day’s salary is a move akin to undeclared emergency. This has lowered the dignity of a teacher,” said Ramkrishna Agarwal, president of All Rajasthan School Teachers’ Union.
In March, Rajasthan police had booked several people, mostly contractual workers of the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), for allegedly waving black flags at a rally of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Jhunjhunu district.
In another order issued on Thursday, the Secondary Education Department, Bikaner allocated Rs 40.8 lakh for distributing food packets to participating teachers.
State Congress president Sachin Pilot said the BJP government was desperate to gather crowds for its rallies, so it was resorting to such measures. “There is no logic why the presence of government teachers is compulsory on Teachers’ Day in Jaipur. How can the government differentiate between teachers who got jobs during the Congress regime or the BJP’s earlier regimes? They are trying to divide even government servants,” Pilot told The Indian Express. He said there was no reason for the government to use state machinery to gather crowds, and that the order forbidding black clothes showed that it was afraid of protests.
“We are in the process of withdrawing the directive on clothes. It happened because of a miscommunication,” Nathmal Didel, director, Secondary Education Department, Bikaner told The Indian Express. He added that teachers who joined after December 2013 were being invited because they would be shown presentations and films about initiatives of the government in the education sector in the last 4-5 years.
“There are around 63,000 such newly appointed teachers throughout the state, and we are expecting a crowd of 50,000. Other teachers will also be honoured for their contribution and the new teachers will get an opportunity to be motivated by their achievements,” said Didel.