ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Mourning for the Teacher

Why the Adulation of APJ Abdul Kalam is Misleading

Behind the opulence of institutions and the grandstanding of politicians towards teachers lies the real truth—they are among the most undervalued professionals in India. 

India mourned its former president APJ Abdul Kalams death with grateful remembrance. The spectacle was elevating, and it prompted remembrances of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan. Both had earned peoples love and admiration essentially as the nations teachers. In Kalams case, however, the surge of sentiment was on a far greater scale. Perhaps social media was an important reason. But it certainly could not have been the sole reason.

I suspect that in mourning so generously for one symbolic teacher, we, as a nation, were hiding from ourselves our failure to mourn for the countless teachers who have been, over two decades now, systematically pauperised. Nobody wants to even acknowledge that the swelling ranks of Indias new precariat include a majority of its teachers. A failure to mourn is the result of a disavowal of realitywe know, but we do not want to accept that we know. So we put up one huge public mourning as a large billboard under which to bury our guilt.

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