India has created a new record, and a good one. Incidentally chief protagonists are two time-tested politicians! Both the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the President Pranab Mukherjee addressed and interacted with the students and the events were obviously telecast live on national television as also the private channels.
The occasion was on-the-eve-of birth anniversary (Sept 4) of country’s illustrious President Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan. Going by conventions of protocol and rightly so, first Prime Minister Modi took the floor and shortly after Modi interacted with nearly 800 students from nine states, - Manipur to Karnataka- President Pranab Mukherjee himself turned teacher and taught school students about the country's political history.
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While Modi with a typical neta characteristic dwelt at length on enumerating future promises, Pranab Mukherjee stuck to his statesman-type mannerism and dealt on the past trying to ignite the young minds towards nation building and the cherished cause of democracy.
To start with, President Mukherjee, a man with good memories, explained about the creation of the Constitution that gave Indian people power to make their own laws.
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“The establishment of multi-party democratic system with Parliamentary form of government was an important event,” Pranab da said.
On March 11, 2015, I was among the select group of journalists who called on Pranab Mukherjee for an informal interaction over high tea. On that occasion too, he made a brilliant speech – extempore and referring to historical dates and anecdotes flawlessly.
Often dubbed in the media as a five-foot nothing, Pranab Mukherjee is always a pleasure to listen to and educative too. Students of Dr Rajendra Prasad Sarvodaya Vidyalaya located in the sprawling President's Estate, however missed a glimpse of Pranabda’s famous short temper – we working journalists often were blessed with. On one occasion when economy under UPA-2 was going doldrums and Congress had committed to creation to Telangana, our beloved President almost shut the door of his car on my face and the verbal rebuke, I must say, would be cherished!
For his part, Namo had his show well organized as he beamed sitting amidst his ministerial colleagues, Smriti Irani, Upendra Khushwaha (despite tension of allies pressure in Bihar polls) and Jayant Sinha.
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At least my wife thought Modi put up a better show ! Mind you, the Tripura lady is a daughter of a late Marxist comrade from Manik Sarkar’s state!
“People who have done well in their career should at least spend one hour per week or 100 hours in a year to teach students,” Modi said exhorting every individual to pass on his or her knowledge. But Modi’s classic oneliner and an election winner-type was: Maa..janam deti hae.......Guru Jeevan deta hae.
(Mother gives you birth but it is the teacher/Guru who makes your life)”.
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But what have we achieved by the live shows of two formidable public figures.
The idea to field Pranabda was pitched by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his Deputy Manish Sisodia. The President liked it and gave consent to be part of the state government's programme 'Be a Teacher' where famous people volunteer to take classes.
What was it all about?
Perhaps Modi would have answered this in his own style when fielding a question on what is his favourite game, Prime Minister unraveled the paradoxical quiz well:
"Everyone...knows what game...we politicians play...." said Namo as the likes of Smriti Irani smiled.
Did I hear somewhere, smiles often conceal more than they reveal? All smiles teachers! my teachers and Gurus!! – Some in journalism like Asheem Poddar of All India Radio, Kohima - my alma mater - and a few like Rosemay Dzuvichu in academics --- and look at the irony of the IT tool: Facebook says both are my friends.
Modi has ignited ideas about Digital India? Or was it APJ Abdul Kalam?