by Elton Gomes
It is that time of the year again where we wish our teachers a Happy Teachers’ Day. We remember them for the lessons they taught us and for the invaluable advice they’ve given us. We’ve all had some outstanding teachers in the past – one of whom was Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, whose birthday is commemorated as Teachers’ Day.
Why is Teachers’ Day celebrated?
The first Teachers’ Day celebration in India happened in 1962 when Dr Radhakrishnan became President of India. In order to celebrate this esteemed position, his students suggested that his birthday – September 5 – be celebrated as ‘Radhakrishnan Day’. However, Dr Radhakrishnan refused and thought of a suggestion - “Instead of celebrating my birthday, it would be my proud privilege if September 5 is observed as Teachers’ Day,” according to the Indian Express. That was the genesis of Teachers’ Day celebrations in India.
Who was Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan?
Dr. Radhakrishnan was born on September 5, 1882, into a Telegu Brahmin family in Tirutani in Andhra Pradesh. He completed his Masters’ in Philosophy from the University of Madras, and then went on to teach in University of Mysore and University of Calcutta, where he became popular among the students.
Radhakrishnan then served as the vice chancellor at Andhra University and Banaras Hindu University. He was also nominated as the Chair of Spalding Professor for Eastern Religions in Oxford University.
“He has served his country in many capacities. But above all, he is a great teacher from whom all of us have learned much and will continue to learn. It is India’s peculiar privilege to have a great philosopher, a great educationist and a great humanist as her President,” India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru once said about Radhakrishnan, according to the Indian Express.
Radhakrishnan then became the President of India, and was awarded the Bharat Ratna in 1954. He was also nominated 27 times for the Nobel Prize; 16 times for the Nobel Prize in literature, and 11 times for the Nobel Peace prize.
Other exemplary teachers in India
Besides Dr Radhakrishnan, other teachers in India have also been instrumental in revolutionizing education. One such example was Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. Kalam was known for his exemplary contribution in making India a nuclear nation and for his motivational speeches to students.
Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore will also be fondly remembered as a distinguished teacher who founded the Visva Bharati University that guided students spiritually.
PM Modi lauds teachers
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union education minister Prakash Javadekar interacted with the recipients of the National Teachers’ Awards in New Delhi. On the eve of Teachers’ Day, the prime minister praised the awardees for their commendable efforts in improving the quality of education in India. During the interaction, Modi urged the teachers to work towards extracting the inherent strengths of students, particularly those who are poor and from rural areas.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius
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