New Delhi: Unfazed by criticism from Opposition, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday afternoon addressed students across the country on the occasion of Teachers' Day. The Human Resources Development Ministry headed by Smriti Irani had earlier issued notice directing all educational institutions to ensure maximum presence of students during the Prime Minister's speech.
However, the move backfired and triggered criticism forcing the HRD Ministry to later clarify that attendance is not mandatory but it would be good if maximum students could attend the event.
PM Modi's speech and interaction was shown to kids across the country through television and even webcast. To be able to attend the PM's speech, students had to stay back till 5 pm, while schools generally close by noon on September 5.
A large number of students was reportedly excited about the opportunity to interact directly with the PM.
Several schools and colleges across the country made special arrangements to show PM's speech on Teachers' Day. Many schools gave a leeway to junior students and those living in far off areas from attending the address. Some schools even changed their timings.
In order to ensure wider reach of PM Modi's interaction with school students, his speech was streamed live on YouTube. The speech was also broadcast live on DD news and Modi and personally interacted with 1,000 students at Delhi's Manekshaw Auditorium.
A select number of students got the opportunity to ask nearly 15 to 20 questions to the Prime Minister. The entire session started at 3 pm sharp.
Though most of the private schools made arrangements to show the PM's speech, some institutions in West Bengal and Tamil Nadu opposed the move and announced that they will not comply with the HRD Ministry's directive.
The students in J&K also did not get the chance to attend the event as the state government has ordered the closure of all schools and offices in view of incessant rains and inclement weather.
On the eve of the Teachers' Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said teachers hold great importance in the life of students. Addressing teachers who would be honoured with a national award for teaching by President Pranab Mukherjee today, Modi said "teaching" is not a profession or job, but a way of life – "jeevan dharm”.
He said a teacher never retires, and always continues to endeavour to teach the new generation.
PM Modi this morning delivered a message to teachers saying, “You are laying the foundation and building blocks of society. I call upon you to widen the horizon of your students' thinking.”
“Encourage students to think about nation, society, environment,” the PM said in his message to teachers.
My greetings to the teachers, in various languages. http://t.co/o9GlKB7fx3
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) September 5, 2014