As synonymous is 2nd October with father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi, so is 5th September with the second President of India, Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan. He was also an educator par excellence and highly regarded by his students. India will never be able to repay Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan's contribution to the education system of India. It is no wonder that since 1962, 5th of September, the birthday of this genius has been celebrated as Teacher’s Day in India to express our gratitude to him and pay respects to all the teachers of India. Teachers' Day in India has always been a time to remember the contribution of teachers in our lives. The day, September 5, is an annual occasion filled with fervour when students write to their teachers and thank them for their support.
Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was born in the year 1888 in a well-known religious state Tamil Nadu in Thiruthani. He was the second son of Veera Samayya, a tehsildar in a zamindari. It was a middle-class, respectable Hindu Brahmin family. Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was born on September 5, 1888, in a middle class family in Thiruthani, Tamil Nadu.He was an outstanding student and studied philosophy at Christian College, Madras. Dr Radhakrishnan taught at various colleges - from University of Mysore to University of Calcutta.He was appointed as the Vice-Chancellor of Andhra University, Delhi University as well as Banaras Hindu University.
Dr Radhakrishnan was the first Indian to hold a chair at the University of Oxford - the Spalding Professor of Eastern Religion and Ethics (1936-1952).In 1930, he was appointed Haskell lecturer in Comparative Religion at the University of Chicago. Dr Radhakrishnan led the Indian delegation to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and was elected chairman of UNESCO's executive board in 1948.Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was awarded the Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian honour in the country in 1954. His works include Indian Philosophy, (1923-27), The Philosophy of the Upanishads (1924), An Idealist View of Life (1932), Eastern Religions and Western Thought (1939), and East and West: Some Reflections (1955).
There never was a day in India before it was proposed by Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, when teachers or gurus of the olden times were remembered with respect and gratitude. While serving as the President of India, when some people wanted to celebrate his birthday, he had proposed that if people genuinely wanted to celebrate his birthday then let it be celebrated as a day for teachers. Thus, he introduced the tradition and festival of celebrating Teacher's Day. Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was the first Vice-President of India and the second President of India. He was also a teacher and a Philosopher of a high caliber renowned in the West, United Kingdom as well as the United States of America. Even prior to India's Independence Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan had been summoned to the world famous Oxford University to deliver lectures on Hindu Philosophy. An Indian being called to the Universities of the West was unheard of during those times and was very rare.
Some of the eminent positions held by him and managed efficiently: Lecturer in Philosophy, Presidency College, Madras; Professor of Philosophy, Mysore University (1918-1921); King George V Professor of Philosophy, Calcutta University (1921-1931), (1937-1944); Vice-Chancellor of the Andhra University (1931); Spalding Professor of Eastern Religion and Ethics, Oxford University (1932-1953); Chairman of the University Education Commission (1948) appointed by the Government of India; President of UNESCO (1952) and President of India. Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan has been an epitome of dedication and integrity who rose from a small town common man to one of the most inspirational characters of Modern India. Even as the president Sarvepalli remained a humble man. It was an open house at the Rashtrapati Bhavan and people from all sections of society were welcome to meet him. In addition he accepted only Rs. 2,500 out of his salary of Rs. 10,000 and donated the remaining amount to the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund every month. He remained a teacher in many ways and even adopted the authoritative tone of a headmaster in many of his letters to his ministers. Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan died on April 16, 1975 in Chennai.
The Hindu View of Life and The Principal Upanishads are among his famous books on philosophy. Whenever there are discussions on teachers and students, there has never been an instance when Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan's name is not mentioned. He stands as a greatest character in the world of teaching in India. As a chairman of the University Education Commission formed after the Indian Independence in 1948, the Radhakrishnan Committee's suggestions helped formulate the education system for India. Teachers have been asked to follow a pattern of selfless service and impart education citing examples of the great teacher, philosopher and leader. A teacher who has been given the responsibility of molding children into responsible citizens is one of the key factors in shaping a child's life and character.
Just one day (September 5) cannot be enough to honour the teachers who spend their entire lives serving the nation by rendering education to the children, however, it is a very noble thought to set aside one day to remember the teachers who have a hand in shaping the youth of the nation.
(The views expressed are personal)