Wednesday, September 5, 2001, Chandigarh, India



“Teach him to learn to lose...”

Teachers’ Day is going to be celebrated in all educational institutions on September 5. Today’s education system is marked by tuition menace, copying in exams, heavy schoolbags, ever-escalating school fees, money-minded teachers and thankless students. The following excerpts from the letter written by Abraham Lincoln to the school teacher who taught his son may provide some inspiration to the teachers, parents and students as well:

“He will have to learn, I know, that all men are not just, all men are not true. But teach him also that for every scoundrel, there is a hero, that for every selfish politician, there is a dedicated leader. Teach him to learn to lose and also to enjoy winning. Steer him away from envy, if you can. Teach him the secret of quiet laughter. Let him learn early that bullies are the easiest to lick. Teach him if you can, the wonder of books, but also give him quite time to ponder the external mystery of the birds in the sky, bees in the sun and flowers on the green hillside.”

“In school, teach him, it is far more honourable to fail than to cheat. Teach him to have faith in his own ideas, even if everyone tells him, they are wrong. Teach him to be gentle with gentle people and tough with the tough. Try to give my son the strength not to follow the crowd when everyone is getting on the bandwagon. Teach him to listen to all men, but teach him also to filter all he hears on the screen of truth and take only the good that comes through.


“Teach him if you can, how to laugh when he is sad. Teach him there is no shame in tears. Teach him to scoff at cynics and beware of too much sweetness. Teach him to sell his brawn and brain to highest bidders, but never to put a price tag on his heart and soul. Teach him to close his ears to the howling mob and to stand up and fight, if he thinks he is right.

“Teach him gently, but do not cuddle fine steel. Let him have the courage to be impatient, let him have the patience to be brave. Teach him always to have sublime faith in himself, because then he will have sublime faith in mankind.

“This is the big order, but see, what you can do. He is such a fine fellow, my son!”


Why all these strikes?

One does not understand all the strikes going on in different cities (Ludhiana, Chandigarh) by students. Rather than thanking the government for providing education at an affordable rate, they now want more than what is feasible. They want the government to create jobs that it has no need for. Now that they are armed with education, why don’t they find some real use for it?

We should learn to be responsible for ourselves. Maybe we can look at the computer engineers. In the last four months, about 46,000 computer programmers have lost their jobs. Most of them are now working for much lower salaries (some even as waiters), but thank God they are not banging at the doors of the government, asking it to create positions that it really does not need. They thought computers were a good career, but software industry crashed, and they are now trying their hands somewhere else and acquiring new skills. This is a much better attitude than sitting on strike.

In one case, veterinarian students are protesting that the government is teaching farmers how to take care of cattle. In effect what they are saying is that in their four years courses, they have only managed to learn what farmers can learn in four-day weekend classes. If they don’t want other people to be educated, they really do not deserve to be called educated, just degreed.



Scrap Teachers’ Day

Guru Purnima is the day traditionally reserved in India for expressing gratitude to teachers. All that teachers have done for us is remembered on this day. Teachers have taught us, trained us into various professions, enabled us to handle paradoxical pressures of the adult world and above all, as role models, shown us how to become better human beings. It is celebrated on the Purnima (full moon) of the month of Ashadha, corresponding to July-August. Over the centuries Indians have celebrated Guru Purnima with great enthusiasm, reverence and without any controversy.

September 5, a distinctly inauspicious day which, for too long now, has been a day of trouble and mourning. A few politicians and bureaucrats, with little sense of Indian culture, history and concerns, ordered that henceforth this would be the day for teachers. This government-inspired idea does not seem to have found many takers. In colleges and universities this day is marked by complete indifference from students. Teachers on their part have chosen this day, for over a decade now, to wear black badges, take out morchas, easily inspired by government-sponsored symbolism. They go about organising functions in schools. How many of them do this with a sense of reverence, however, remains a moot point.

At the risk of sounding pedagogic and making an argument ad hominem, we also need to take notice of the fact that Teachers’ Day is organised to commemorate a Brahmin who spent most of his adult life in India as an educational administrator rather than as a teacher. His books, all of them in English, written for a western audience, were designed to give the West a brief glimpse, however inadequate, of a philosophical culture of India. Even there he was not able to identify significant elements of Indian philosophy such as aesthetics. His claim to fame, such as it is, rests on his beings an interpreter and not an original thinker. As to the morality of his personal life, of which we get a glimpse from his biography written by his son, S. Gopal, the less said the better. Little wonder that the symbolism of Teachers’ Day associated with September 5 has fallen flat.

Isn’t it high time that we scrap Teachers’ Day and instead choose Guru Purnima to honour our teachers?

M. RAJIVLOCHAN, Deptt of History, PU, Chandigarh

Badal rating

In his letter "Badal rating: a biased assessment" (Aug 25), Mr Zora Singh Mann, M.P., has tried his best to highlight the achievements of Mr Badal in the field of education.

The same issue of The Tribune carried Mr Sukhpal Singh Khaira’s article “The near collapse of rural education”. I request the MP to speak to teachers of his constituency before painting a bright picture of rural schools. May I request him to publish the details of his quota money he has allotted to rural schools of his constituency to bring them to the level of Adarsh schools?

The present education system allows businessmen to run very profitable education shops in villages.

SAVINDER SINGH, Bhangala (Hoshiarpur)

Unemployed dentists’ plea: In continuation of the “Badal rating” controversy, I would like to ask what has Mr Badal done for the unemployed professional youths like me? While there are no jobs for holders of even professional degrees like M.B.B.S. and B.D.S., new dental colleges are being opened in the state. Recently his colleague, Mr Sewa Singh Sekhwan opened a new dental college after his father’s name at Sekhwan village (Gurdaspur). The college claims 100 admissions a year. What will these 100 B.D.S. doctors do after graduating? The last P.C.M.S. (Dental) posts were advertised in 1998 and that too only 22. What about hundreds of dentists still hoping for govt. jobs?

Dr SUNIL GUPTA, Pathankot

Other face of Tehelka

Apropos the editorial “Other face of Tehelka” (Aug 24), if Tarun Tejpal is guilty of “entrapment to induce one to commit a crime”, so are police and CBI officers who join even the ranks of the mafia gangs only to collect information on their working and then burst them thoroughly.


Pimps in journalism: These Tehelka people seem to be more of pimps than journalists. The supply of prostitutes for developing a story can’t be justified by any yardstick. It is for the journalistic community to censure the Tehelka team for this criminal act.

J. K. MAGO, Panchkula

Justified: Tarun Tejpal’s use of prostitutes in the investigation of the defence deal was absolutely ethical. His purpose was clear: to expose corruption and not sex. That is why he did not think it relevant to make such details public initially.


With you: Whatever method he used to get any information whether it was money or sex is not a violation of any journalism code of conduct. I would like to tell Tarun Tejpal that we are with you in the battle against this corrupt and bureaucratic system.

JASVIR, San Francisco


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