The honorable union ministry of HRD has evoked criticisms for introducing an essay contest for school children on the topic Guru Utsav. Some of the educationists debated in favor of this conceptual shift initiated by the HRD, meanwhile political parties has shown their apprehension against this decision. However a healthy dialogue between both the parties is required to clear the air of ambiguity surrounding this concept. Renaming the day, to a more glorified and meaningful connotation enriches the experience and values attached to it. Let's do a brief study.
Guru Utsav: A literal study:
The idea of Guru is deeply ingrained in the lives of every Indian. In the Sanskrit lexicon a Guru stands for an enlightened person who removes ignorance (ajnana) from his disciples and fills in with knowledge (Jnana). The position of Guru in the hierarchy of personal importance is after ones' own parents according to tradition. There are many examples in literary works such as vedas, epics and poems glorifying the role of Guru in the character formation of heroes, whom are considered to be the embodiment of righteousness by the masses. For instance devotional poet, Kabir Das in one of his poems had expressed that he shall postulate in front of his Guru first then the Lord himself, because Guru was the person whom had taught him about the glory of Lord Therefore the position of Guru in the lives of Indians have definitely more relevance and meaning than the term 'Teacher' have.
Guru- Shishya Relationship
In ancient period the education system was characterized with the special relationship between the Guru and Shishya (Disciple). Historian A.L.Basham in his great work, "The Wonder That India Was" stated that the education system of Ancient India was not based on any fees or emolument. In most of the cases, the Shishyas used to stay in the Guru's residence and assist him or his family in day to day affairs. The function of giving tribute called as Guru Dakshina after completing his/ her studies was considered as an auspicious action, which was the only material gift offered to the Guru during a student's academic life. In those days, apart from imparting technical and literal skills, these places where considered as centers for Character formation. Gradually these small centers transformed to Univesities in Nalanda, Taxila, Varanasi, Kanchi and so on.
Teachers - The torch -bearers of nation building:
PM Modi in his speech to the children on Sept 5, mentioned about the diminishing respect for teachers in modern India. Research shows that the country is finding dearth of good teachers for leading the nation to a developed economy. Skilled teachers are need of the hour and they should be role models for the children to guide the future of our nation in the right path. There is a concern that new generation doesn't aspire to take up the profession of teaching due to many reasons. Keeping aside other factors, one reason is current teachers are not able to demonstrate values and traits which were the symbols of gurus like Kautilya, Samartha Ramadas, Dr. Radhakrishnan and so on. The notion of renaming Teacher's Day to Guru Utsava for the sake of doing it shall not serve the purpose. 'Adoption in Action' is what is required. Great academicians like Dr. Radhakrishnan, Dr. Ambedkar, Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya etc have to be born again through our schools and universities for taking India to the next level of Social, Economical and Political Leadership.
Finally to conclude with, renaming the occasion with a much valuable terminology alone shall not bring the aimed change in the education system. Assimilating and absorbing the eternal values which were promulgated by great teachers has to be bought into practice. The beginning of any change is the change in the hearts to achieve desired changes in the society. I think the key here is the teachers themselves. Therefore the paradigm shift from being a mere subject tutors to a Guru with exemplary qualities is the need for an enlightened Bharath.