For India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi the task was always going to be a challenge. After all, it requires quite an effort to grab and hold the attention of millions of children across the country for over an hour. But the prime minister’s efforts seem to have paid dividends.
“I feel blessed I can address students who are the future of India,” said Modi to an audience of over 700 school children at the Manekshaw Centre in New Delhi. The address was beamed live to over 18,00,00 government and private schools across.
Addressing schoolchildren on Teacher’s Day, Modi underlined that India’s youth is talented and can achieve anything if it sets its mind to it. He also said that interacting with the youth “charged his batteries.”
Modi become the first prime minister after Jawaharlal Nehru to directly reach out to school children. Fondly called Chacha (Uncle) Nehru, India’s first prime minister was loved and adored by children. Media reports of Modi’s address to children have generated similar nicknames from Modi, Masterji Modi being the most catchy.
“As students I am sure you have several dreams. If you are determined to move ahead nothing can stop you. Our youth are talented.”
Modi candidly expressed his concern of the declining standards of teaching and the decreasing number of teachers in the country.
“What is the reason why a lot of people do not want to become teachers? We must think about this. The world needs good teachers,” added Modi.
Before his address the social media savvy prime minister had twitted his regards for Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, India’s former president and a teacher par excellence.
“Tributes to Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan. Teacher, scholar and statesman, he remains an inspiration for the entire nation” tweeted Modi.
After his address to the student, Modi also answered a number of questions from students from across the country including those from Leh and Port Blair.
“What will you gain after talking to us?” asked a student.
To which Modi replied, “If I had to gain things I would not come. Everything is not about ‘labh.’ Work without any ‘labh’ and the joy is different.”
When one student asked “How can I become the PM of India?” Modi said, “Start preparing for 2024 elections, adding “…and it also means till then I do not have any threat. India is a democracy and anybody can become the PM. Yes, when you are taking oath as the PM do call me for the ceremony.”
Modi urged teachers and parents not to discourage or discriminate against any student.
But not all talk was academic. Modi also encouraged students to venture outdoors and play sports. “Don’t limit your life to TV, books and computer. Life is bigger than that. Read biographies. Today for every question there’s Google guru. You get information from it but not knowledge.”
“Serving the nation does not only mean doing grand things. Doing small things is a big service to the nation,” added Modi.
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