MOTHER’S WORDS ON A TEACHERS’ DAY

Reproducing an article written in 2014..

Mother Teresa – August 26, 1910 – September 5, 1997

“I never forget an opportunity I had in visiting a home where they had all these old parents of sons and daughters who had just put them in an institution and forgotten maybe. And I went there, and I saw in that home they had everything, beautiful things, but everybody was looking towards the door. And I did not see a single one with their smile on their face. And I turned to the Sister and I asked: How is that? How is it that the people they have everything here, why are they all looking towards the door, why are they not smiling? I am so used to see the smile on our people, even the dying one smile, and she said: This is nearly every day, they are expecting, they are hoping that a son or daughter will come to visit them. They are hurt because they are forgotten, and see – this is where love comes. That poverty comes right there in our own home, even neglect to love.”

From the Mother’s Nobel Lecture – December 11, 1979

There is this place that I visit regularly and the Mother’s these words echo on what I feel there during each of my trip.

This one is a paid home for the senior citizens, the old-age people who are forced to live there (and in every such home, paid or charitable).

Yes I can use the word ‘forced’ because no one wants to live away from his or her family when he or she needs it the most, in old-age, when they become dependent on others, financially, medically and emotionally and this dependence increases as the age advances.

Here in this particular old-age home, financial constraint is not an issue except one or two members because most are well-to-do traders or pensioners with good financial background, but overall, each of them are poor emotionally, as the Mother’s words say, as the practical needs of an old-age demand, the emotional attachment and attentions, they need people to spend time with them, to listen to them, to care for them, and that is universally true, at least in the context of the Indian tradition where the whole family still grows together, where the parents forget their own comforts, comfortably and happily, to give a comfortable life to their children.

And such old-age homes reiterate the concerns on the value-erosion that is breaking people away from the joint-family tradition where even fathers and mothers become unwanted entities.

Here in this old-age home, even if the situation is like other worldly when we compare it with similar government run institutions or many charitable ones, this poverty transcends. It begins with the families. The poverty there pushes them to throw their elderly parents away to such institutions, the eternally emotionally poor places.

And it can be read on their faces.
Yes, the grandpas and grandmas here are fully aware of their situation and the lifelong learning and bad experiences from their own children make them tolerant enough to pass the days in their solitude.

Still, they expect. Still, they pray for their sons and daughters. Still, their financial planning of whatever they have revolves around their sons who don’t even call them or the daughters who don’t even visit them even if they stay in the same city.

It is always an unacceptable point that a son (daughters are not privileged to take such decisions in Indian societies) cannot accommodate his parents or his father or his mother in ‘his family life’.

Peace always evades them and their sons and daughters live in a world of fallacy, of a caricaturized peace, earned on the sobs and tears of their parents.

Some of them had come here together. They saw here one departing. And they are now alone. Relatives including the immediate family members, including the sons and the daughters (if some of them turn up) come for the last rites and then it is even more solitary and haunting a life where the only person with whom he or she could share the emotional needs, is no more.

And the institution here, the old-age home, with good infrastructure and material facilities, is no help either. There is no emotional connect. The basic requirement of such an institution, catering to the emotional needs of the humiliated hearts, is totally absent. The staff there treats them as paid inhabitants who don’t give tips.

Most of the charitable institutions (and yes, this old-age home is one from the lot) don’t even know what charity should be, where should it begin and that there is no end to it, as the Mother’s life and words teach us to follow.

The value-erosion is deepening as evident by such institutions proliferating across the country. And there is no defined solution to address it.

The major reason behind such ‘extremely nuclear’ families is an increasingly selfish and self-centered work culture shaped by an education system that forces students to become too individualistic in competing and succeeding.

The value-based education system has been replaced by a system that focuses only on examinations. It tells students to compete and succeed at all costs. It tells them there is no life beyond it if they fail. The students are bullied by life and by the society.

They live under consistent pressure and after a point of time, they start treating genuine concerns and advices of their parents as bullying and selfish acts. They stop seeing the fine print of their parents’ intentions. They justify the family assistance as their right, something that their parents enjoyed as well when they were youngsters.

Not all sons and daughters become like that. But the increasing number of old-age homes tells us the problem is widening and the society needs to address it.

A logical way to address it is introducing value based content focusing on parents and caring for them in the teaching curriculum right from the elementary level and continue the flow year after year till the undergraduate level. It is not a wild thought to opinionate that a separate course should be developed on family values in Indian societies. If there is a need of value-indoctrination in the Indian tradition, it is here, on this and similar issues.

Due to certain reasons, my visits to this old-age homes has become more frequent these days and thoughts on these lines naturally came to me today, after watching prime minister Nadrendra Modi’s address and interaction with the students from across the country emphasizing on the ‘value of values’ on the Teachers’ Day, a day to observe the birth anniversary of the greatest academician India has ever had, Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, the former President of the nation and a former vice-chancellor of my alma mater, Banaras Hindu University.

‘Who we are is not decided by our lineage’ but by our deeds and when we fail to perform on our primary responsibilities, that is to our parents, to care for them, to be with them on their every call, we fail in life, even if we amass great material wealth.

Dr. Radhakrishnan had said: “We are Braahmin not on account of birth or the performance of rites, not by study or family, but on account of our behavior”.

Growing up is basically about the values that we imbibe and how the values reflect in our acts. The sons and daughters who don’t learn to appreciate and imbibe the values that make the connect with their parents a natural bond remain poor throughout their lives – as the Mother’s words say, as the life says, as echoed in Dr. Radhakrishnan’s words – “Their joy is in the fulfilment of family obligations of marriage and parenthood, and other personal relationships.”

Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan – September 5, 1888 – April 17, 1975

Mother Teresa - Dr. Radhakrishnan

Mother Teresa – Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
(Images sourced from the Internet)

©SantoshChaubey

DO WE HAVE SUCH TEACHERS TODAY IN OUR SCHOOL SYSTEM?

Some students and friends approached Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan in 1962, the then President of the country and a former academician having stints with University of Calcutta, University of Oxford and Banaras Hindu University, requesting him to allow them to celebrate his birthday falling on September 5. Dr. Radhakrishnan instead opinionated to observe his birthday as the Teachers’ Day, in respect of the contribution of the teaching fraternity and since then we observe 5th September every year as the Teachers’ Day.

Dr. Radhakrishnan believed ‘teachers should be the best minds in the country’.

That was in 1962.

Figures like Dr. Radhakrishnan do inspire even today but what about the teachers of the day?

Do they still inspire? Do they come from among the best minds in the country? Are they motivated enough to build the character of the students?

In a report released on September 3, India fell by 11 places to 71 on Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) released by the World Economic Forum. GCI is an annual report that measures performance in 12 categories including macroeconomic policies, infrastructure, health and primary education and higher education.

India’s rank in ‘heath and primary education’ category is 98 while it is ranked 93 in ‘higher education and training’, but below its overall ranking of 71 that tells us the poor show and neglect of these sectors in the country.

What is behind this sluggish performance? Certainly not ‘the best of the minds and the motivated teaching professionals’!

What ails the teachers in the Indian education system, especially the elementary education that builds the character of the students to prepare them to take the higher challenges?

At elementary and college level, it is not attracting the best of the minds. Let’s see some of the parameters to see the ground reality:

Continue reading

A GOOD BEGINNING ON THIS TEACHERS’ DAY: HOPE, THE SPIRIT SUSTAINS

If it has to be placed in the category of a political act – what Narendra Modi did on September 5, the Teachers’ Day (or the Teacher’s Day), was indeed a good and engaging politics, unlike the politics of the day, unlike what ‘Indian politics’ of the day has become synonymous with.

On googling (searching) for the definitions of politics, the first two definitions that the Google Guru (as Modi termed the online search giant – like any online search has become synonymous with ‘googling’) comes with are:

The activities associated with the governance of a country or area, especially the debate between parties having power.

Activities aimed at improving someone’s status or increasing power within an organization.

Obviously, these are not exhaustive. But what these definitions imply is the theoretical baseline in the contemporary times.

Activities associated with – Activities aimed at – the context is defined by words like governance, power, status, parties, organizations – and the activities can be good or bad – like ‘good politics’ or ‘bad politics’ – and we, the Indians, desperately need the ‘good politics’ – and if it was political, it was indeed ‘good and needed politics’ by Narendra Modi.

It is like the difference between ‘information’ and ‘knowledge’ as Narendra Modi points out – what Google gives us is mere information – using it in a context and using it with an informed background are what make any piece of information an event of knowledge.

Modi’s address to the students and to the nation had no political tones the way he spoke, the way he carried it further. His body language and his interaction with students told us it was more of a personal choice. He spoke and interacted like an engaged elder. It was inspiring and connecting.

Yes, there are political elements and political interpretations that can be associated with initiative. But that is for good. There is nothing wrong if Modi addresses students who are voters of tomorrow. There is nothing wrong if Narendra Modi addresses the teachers who are millions strong votebank. There is nothing wrong if Narendra Modi didn’t speak of the problems of teachers.

If they are voters of tomorrow, what’s wrong in establishing connect with them. Similar logic can be extended to the teachers. Doing it sincerely and seriously is the need of the day. The sustained outreach is the need of the day.

It was an event for students, addressing to them, talking to them, guiding them and sharing with them. How can one expect Mr. Modi to discuss the complex issues of the problems of the teachers and of the education system there? Wouldn’t it defy the whole purpose? Doing so indeed would be bad politics, the ‘politics of the day’.

There is nothing wrong in all this if we see the context. The context needed an honest display of personal reflections and Modi excelled at that, naturally and easily. It was an engaging event full of good moments where we smiled, where we laughed.

If it was politics – Modi’s Teachers’ Day address to the students was good and acceptable politics, unlike the politics of the day.

Hope it establishes a norm and a good tradition begins and the spirit that has been this year, sustains year after year.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

MOTHER’S WORDS ON A TEACHERS’ DAY

Mother Teresa – August 26, 1910 – September 5, 1997

“I never forget an opportunity I had in visiting a home where they had all these old parents of sons and daughters who had just put them in an institution and forgotten maybe. And I went there, and I saw in that home they had everything, beautiful things, but everybody was looking towards the door. And I did not see a single one with their smile on their face. And I turned to the Sister and I asked: How is that? How is it that the people they have everything here, why are they all looking towards the door, why are they not smiling? I am so used to see the smile on our people, even the dying one smile, and she said: This is nearly every day, they are expecting, they are hoping that a son or daughter will come to visit them. They are hurt because they are forgotten, and see – this is where love comes. That poverty comes right there in our own home, even neglect to love.”

From the Mother’s Nobel Lecture – December 11, 1979

There is this place that I visit regularly and the Mother’s these words echo on what I feel there during each of my trip.

This one is a paid home for the senior citizens, the old-age people who are forced to live there (and in every such home, paid or charitable).

Yes I can use the word ‘forced’ because no one wants to live away from his or her family when he or she needs it the most, in old-age, when they become dependent on others, financially, medically and emotionally and this dependence increases as the age advances.

Here in this particular old-age home, financial constraint is not an issue except one or two members because most are well-to-do traders or pensioners with good financial background, but overall, each of them are poor emotionally, as the Mother’s words say, as the practical needs of an old-age demand, the emotional attachment and attentions, they need people to spend time with them, to listen to them, to care for them, and that is universally true, at least in the context of the Indian tradition where the whole family still grows together, where the parents forget their own comforts, comfortably and happily, to give a comfortable life to their children.

And such old-age homes reiterate the concerns on the value-erosion that is breaking people away from the joint-family tradition where even fathers and mothers become unwanted entities.

Here in this old-age home, even if the situation is like other worldly when we compare it with similar government run institutions or many charitable ones, this poverty transcends. It begins with the families. The poverty there pushes them to throw their elderly parents away to such institutions, the eternally emotionally poor places.

And it can be read on their faces.

Yes, the grandpas and grandmas here are fully aware of their situation and the lifelong learning and bad experiences from their own children make them tolerant enough to pass the days in their solitude.

Still, they expect. Still, they pray for their sons and daughters. Still, their financial planning of whatever they have revolves around their sons who don’t even call them or the daughters who don’t even visit them even if they stay in the same city.

It is always an unacceptable point that a son (daughters are not privileged to take such decisions in Indian societies) cannot accommodate his parents or his father or his mother in ‘his family life’.

Peace always evades them and their sons and daughters live in a world of fallacy, of a caricaturized peace, earned on the sobs and tears of their parents.

Some of them had come here together. They saw here one departing. And they are now alone. Relatives including the immediate family members, including the sons and the daughters (if some of them turn up) come for the last rites and then it is even more solitary and haunting a life where the only person with whom he or she could share the emotional needs, is no more.

And the institution here, the old-age home, with good infrastructure and material facilities, is no help either. There is no emotional connect. The basic requirement of such an institution, catering to the emotional needs of the humiliated hearts, is totally absent. The staff there treats them as paid inhabitants who don’t give tips.

Most of the charitable institutions (and yes, this old-age home is one from the lot) don’t even know what charity should be, where should it begin and that there is no end to it, as the Mother’s life and words teach us to follow.

The value-erosion is deepening as evident by such institutions proliferating across the country. And there is no defined solution to address it.

The major reason behind such ‘extremely nuclear’ families is an increasingly selfish and self-centered work culture shaped by an education system that forces students to become too individualistic in competing and succeeding.

The value-based education system has been replaced by a system that focuses only on examinations. It tells students to compete and succeed at all costs. It tells them there is no life beyond it if they fail. The students are bullied by life and by the society.

They live under consistent pressure and after a point of time, they start treating genuine concerns and advices of their parents as bullying and selfish acts. They stop seeing the fine print of their parents’ intentions. They justify the family assistance as their right, something that their parents enjoyed as well when they were youngsters.

Not all sons and daughters become like that. But the increasing number of old-age homes tells us the problem is widening and the society needs to address it.

A logical way to address it is introducing value based content focusing on parents and caring for them in the teaching curriculum right from the elementary level and continue the flow year after year till the undergraduate level. It is not a wild thought to opinionate that a separate course should be developed on family values in Indian societies. If there is a need of value-indoctrination in the Indian tradition, it is here, on this and similar issues.

Due to certain reasons, my visits to this old-age homes has become more frequent these days and thoughts on these lines naturally came to me today, after watching prime minister Nadrendra Modi’s address and interaction with the students from across the country emphasizing on the ‘value of values’ on the Teachers’ Day, a day to observe the birth anniversary of the greatest academician India has ever had, Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, the former President of the nation and a former vice-chancellor of my alma mater, Banaras Hindu University.

‘Who we are is not decided by our lineage’ but by our deeds and when we fail to perform on our primary responsibilities, that is to our parents, to care for them, to be with them on their every call, we fail in life, even if we amass great material wealth.

Dr. Radhakrishnan had said: “We are Braahmin not on account of birth or the performance of rites, not by study or family, but on account of our behavior”.

Growing up is basically about the values that we imbibe and how the values reflect in our acts. The sons and daughters who don’t learn to appreciate and imbibe the values that make the connect with their parents a natural bond remain poor throughout their lives – as the Mother’s words say, as the life says, as echoed in Dr. Radhakrishnan’s words – “Their joy is in the fulfilment of family obligations of marriage and parenthood, and other personal relationships.”

Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan – September 5, 1888 – April 17, 1975

Mother Teresa - Dr. Radhakrishnan
Mother Teresa – Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
(Images sourced from the Internet)

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/