Prime Minister Narendra Modi turned his Teachers’ Day address to millions of students across the country into a cosy chat, as he fielded questions from his audience and narrated anecdotes, admitting that “I am a taskmaster. But it’s not like I don’t work hard myself.”
A young girl Prerna had asked the PM, “People say you are like a Headmaster but you appear to us as friendly. What kind of person are you?” Another student sought tips on becoming a future Prime Minister. Mr Modi promised to attend his swearing-in ceremony in 2024. (Highlights of PM’s Speech)
Many of his answers provoked laughter as he shared anecdotes of childhood pranks and handed out tips. “Work hard, play hard and sweat a lot at least four times a day,” said the PM to the 700 children gathered at Delhi’s Manekshaw auditorium and the many more who had tuned in from across the country.
He asked students to read biographies and stressed on the importance of technology, also cautioning, “These days all the work is done by Google guru (the search engine). It provides information but not knowledge.”( PM’s Quip About Google Guru to Students on Teacher’s Day)
The Prime Minister emphasised the need for a young nation like India to produce many more good teachers than it does. “Why can’t we think of exporting good teachers? Why don’t our students want to become teachers these days?” he asked, ruing that the respect that teachers commanded once has diminished. (I Didn’t Even Run For Class Monitor: PM Modi’s Top 10 Quotes )
Over 18 lakh government and private schools in the country are participating. Many schools changed timings for today to ensure students could watch or hear the PM at school. (Rate PM Modi’s Pathshala )
Controversially, schools across the country have been asked by the Human Resources Development Ministry to report on how they would ensure students watched the speech. Education Minister Smriti Irani insisted that participation was voluntary, but a circular issued by her ministry said, “Feedback would be taken immediately after the programme on the number of children and number of schools who were able to view or listen to the PM’s address.”
Opposition parties have alleged that Mr Modi’s Teachers’ Day programme, which comes as the Modi government completes 100 days in office, is a political exercise.