For a few hours, President Pranab Mukherjee traded his constitutional metier for a teacher's and took an hour-long class, peppered with personal anecdotes, on India's constitution. Teachers Day, which falls over the weekend and generally a holiday in schools, was commemorated both by Mukherjee and PM Modi, in separate functions, to an audience of school children in Delhi.
Mukherjee's lecture on political science to high school students at the Dr. Rajendra Prasad Sarvodaya Vidyalaya, may be the first time that a sitting President deigned to teach school children.
President Mukherjee class--broadcast live on his website and Doordarshan--touched upon his forays as a college professor and journalist before becoming joining politics in 1969. From sharing political science "as he has seen it", to revealing to the students that he was a "naughty child" and that it was his "mother who pushed him to work hard", the President's "class" was fully entertaining. But he also touched upon important topics by saying how lucky the Indians were now, by saying, "For the first time through this Constitution, we have the right to make our own laws."
"If you feel bored, please feel free to tell me. I am not Minister or President today. I am your Mukherjee sir. I will be very happy if you call me that," President Mukherjee insisted.
On the other hand, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's interaction with over 800 students and 60 teachers from various schools in New Delhi along with students from across the country who had excelled in various activities, was low on theory and loaded towards explaining the significance of teachers to national development.
Not many of us lived at the time of Dr. Radhakrishnan, but we did interact with Dr.Kalam who wanted to be remembered as a "teacher": PM— ANI (@ANI_news) September 4, 2015
Dr.Kalam went back to teaching the moment his tenure as a President got over: PM Modi pic.twitter.com/ZFzJGiONzt— ANI (@ANI_news) September 4, 2015
PM Modi also answered several questions posed by students present at the event quite candidly. From discussing his favourite food to saying that he liked to play kabaddi, swim and yoga as a young man, Modi spoke a lot about his personal likes and dislikes as well as his professional life.
For example, when asked about his "leadership skills", he said that life became quite difficult after being a leader and coming under public and media scrutiny.
A leadership quality needs to be developed to be a leader, when you establish that people are affected: PM pic.twitter.com/rSwkPAHudb— ANI (@ANI_news) September 4, 2015
September 5, the birth anniversary of India's second President and philosopher S Radhakrishnan is celebrated as Teachers' Day every year.