President turns professor on Teachers’ Day-eve

New Delhi, Sep 4 (IANS) The preamble of the Indian constitution, the Bengal famine and post-liberalisation India figured in President Pranab Mukherjee’s lecture delivered to students of a senior secondary government school on the eve of Teachers’ Day eve here Friday.

The president, who was a teacher and journalist before embarking on a political career, gave lessons to students of class 11 and 12 of Dr. Rajendra Prasad Sarvodaya Vidyalaya, a school located in the sprawling President’s Estate.

He narrated to the students how the constitution of the country was framed after 300 people toiled over its contents for a long time.

Mentioning about the 1943 Bengal famine, the president told the students that it was actually a man-made famine in which people found it difficult to buy rice even at Rs.1 per kg.

The president touched upon the historical background of the issue, saying the constitution came into existence three years after the nation attained independence in 1947.

Sharing his experiences as a student, the president reminisced not many facilities were available during his school days.

“I was not a very good student… I would complain to my mother that I would not go school any more as I had to walk for three to four kilometres to reach there every day,” he recalled, as students of class 11 and 12 listened with rapt attention.

“My mother then told me that since I didn’t have any other option, I would have to study hard,” he said.

The president also told the students that experiments with ideas of public interest were beneficial for the Indian democracy. “Indian people are making experiments (with ideas).”

Referring to the concepts such as universal voting rights, free and fair voting mechanism, an independent election commission, he said people continue to question if the country had progressed and what more it could achieve.

“The powerful instruments are developing as offshoots of this thinking of the civil society, NGOs, social movements,” he explained.

Recalling social activist Anna Hazare’s public movement, the president said people have the right to question. “If people feel that the MPs and the governments were not doing their jobs, they cannot sit idle.”

As a lot of youngsters these days are connected to social networking sites, the president said the sites such as Facebook and microblogging site Twitter were “very powerful” tools to generate public opinion on issues of public interest.

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