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West Bengal schools skip Modi's live address on Teachers' Day.

Kolkata: Schools in West Bengal skipped the live telecast of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's address to teachers and students on the occasion of Teachers Day on Thursday.

September 5 is celebrated in India as Teachers Day to commemorate the birth anniversary of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan an Indian philosopher and statesman, who was also India's second President and first vice-president.

Both Unions and State governments recognise teachers for their contribution to educating millions of India.

Many private schools also skipped the programme, sighting an inability to make arrangements for the telecast on such short notice.

West Bengal Education Minister Partha Chatterjee on Wednesday said that there was neither the time nor the infrastructure for making such arrangements in schools.

"We will be very busy with our own programmes. Our Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will felicitate teachers on the day," he said.

However, the Human Resource Development Ministry (HRD) stopped short of making the programme compulsory for students and teachers all over the country, and will take stock of schools that has failed to broadcast the same.

"All the schools may make arrangements to assemble the students from 2.30pm to 4.45pm on that day in order that the children may view the Prime Minister's address on TV," a circular sent by the ministry to the Education Secretaries of all states said.

Although HRD minister Smriti Irani had later clarified that the order to schools to get the children to listen to the PM was not compulsory, few political parties were inclined to listen to her.

However, "politicisation" of Teachers' Day had already started drawing barbs.

Other chief ministers, taking a cue from Modi, also addressed teachers and students on the occasion.

Opposition parties blamed the ruling BJP for trying to use the occasion to spread its political agenda, as the HRD ministry as termed the day as aACAyGuru Utsav', reflecting the party's Hindu philosophy.

"The very name is quite objectionable, as it implies to teaching Vedas which is a Hindu script. This way the government is trying to infuse religion into the teaching code. The day is to honour teachers and not use it as a propaganda tool," said Congress leader Shakil Ahmad.

However, students in some schools were upset that the PM's speech had made them forgo their regular programmes, where students perform for teachers.

"This has been a tradition in our school, where students perform on Teacher's Day and they reciprocate on Children's Day. However, this speech by PM Modi disturbed our entire schedule, and we were forced to cancel our event in spite of preparing for months together," said a student at St. Mary's.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Sep 5, 2014
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