Why Modi’s Teachers’ Day Interaction With Students Was Trespassing On Freedom

Posted on September 8, 2014 in Politics, Specials

By Mayank Jain:

“To conquer a nation, first disarm its citizens.” ― Adolf Hitler

An interaction imposed on children, teachers forced to stay and make arrangements for the streaming after school hours and attendance records being forwarded to the HRD ministry for further action. Did Prime Minister take the idea of inspiration a little too far? Freedom of the students across the country was overstepped by authority and the Teachers’ Day turned out to be a mild imprisonment for them as well as the teachers.

Photo : Bhagya Prakash. K for The Hindu
Photo : Bhagya Prakash. K for The Hindu

It isn’t wrong to interact with and hear from students while they are in school, but it is an entirely different thing to make the interaction a part of the syllabus for exams. It’s akin to force feeding green leafy vegetables to a child even when he/she isn’t hungry. It is an infringement on the freedom of children, who are bound by strict rules of the schools.

Did something shake our prime minister’s faith in his oratorical abilities that he had to make sure that children watched it? Perhaps an attempt to be the next childrens’ hero after Nehru. In which case, an extra holiday and interaction during school hours would have worked much better than forcing them to sit in the classrooms and stare at a screen when they were probably tracking the hands of the clock, waiting to escape to freedom.

Niccolò Machiavelli, in his political treatise, The Prince, highlighted that consent can be manufactured or either diplomatically obtained. In this case, however, our PM went a step ahead and obliterated the concept of consent from the equation. The directive conveniently ignored the freedom to choose and made it compulsory for the schools to arrange the screening.

Some schools, however, took it one step further and circulated notifications, as the one below, which warn children against the peril of missing the telecast. The speech will be the basis of 2 mark questions in 5 main papers for classes 3rd to 12th. Children were required to note down and learn the prime minister’s speech, as it’s going to appear in exams.

 

 

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Were children inspired and pumped up to serve the nation after the speech? It’s hard to say, before we answer some pertinent questions that face us in the eye. Firstly, most children must have felt trapped and disgruntled at the ‘chief servant’ of the nation for being the reason behind turning their schools into prison. And more importantly, we should rethink on letting authority become a vehicle of force fed indoctrination to children, who are left without a choice. It’s high time we separate PR from concrete necessities.

The attendance has been marked and it will be relayed to the HRD minister Smriti Irani. Children who failed to attend and teachers who couldn’t arrange the streaming might go through another round of punitive action. As we debate the usefulness of the whole exercise, it might be good idea to actually reform the education system. The PM should make schooling more interesting before planning the next interaction.

To know more about this story and what I think, follow me on Twitter at @mayank1029

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