teachers’ day


Let us explore a lesser-known tale of the
plagiarism controversy surrounding Dr.
Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, the man whose
birthday is celebrated as Teachers’ Day.

Before being ordained as the second
President of the Republic of India, Dr.
Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was a scholar
whose expertise on comparative religion
and philosophy was espoused with
extensive research and studies.
His academic career, which started as
an Assistant Professor at Presidency
College in 1911, allowed him to make
several disciples at various academic
stages of his life. When he eventually
became the President of India in 1962,
some of his students went to meet him
to seek permission to celebrate his
birthday on 5th September, which he
politely declined and rather asked them
to celebrate Teachers’ Day on that day.
And ever since then, 5th September is
celebrated as Teachers’ Day in India.
However, there is a controversial aspect
of his life that is not discussed very often.
It was an infamous case of literacy piracy
that blotted Radhakrishnan’s reputation
in the late 1920s.
In January 1929, Mr. Jadunath Sinha, one
of his students and a brilliant lecturer at
Meerut College, accused Radhakrishnan
of extensively plagiarising from the first
two parts of his thesis titled “Indian
Philosophy of Perception”. Mr. Sinha had
completed his master’s from Calcutta
University in 1917, and had then applied
for the prestigious Premchand Roychand
Studentship in 1922, for which he had
to submit his thesis in instalments. He
submitted the first and second parts in
1922 and 1923, respectively, and the
remaining installments by 1925. Dr.
Radhakrishnan was appointed as the
examiner for Sinha’s thesis, and had to
read the second volume, and the other
subsequent volumes of the thesis.
Professor Sinha revealed that though
Radhakrishnan’s book Indian Philosophy
Volume II was published in 1927, he
noticed the plagiarism in Radhakrishnan’s
book from his thesis only in November
1928. Two months later, Jadunath Sinha
vented out these allegations through
the magazine- Modern Review. In
the subsequent months, the matter
worsened for Radhakrishnan as another
book by him, titled The Vedanta
according to Sankara and Ramanujan was
accused to have paragraphs plagiarised
from Mr. Sinha’s thesis. Mr. Sinha wrote
three consecutive letters in the February,
March, and April editions of Modern
Review inhibiting his accusations.
In August 1929, Professor Sinha sued Dr.
Radhakrishnan in the Calcutta High Court
for the charge of copyright infringement
of his original works, claiming INR
20,000 as damages. In September,
Radhakrishnan counter-sued him for
defamation demanding INR one lakh.
Jadunath Sinha was a revered professor
and initially managed to get sympathy
as well as support from fellow Bengali
professors. They were convinced of
the plagiarism, but subsequently
refused to stand as a witness for him
in the court. On the other hand, Dr.
Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was a relatively
powerful figure at that time, too. He
was brought to Calcutta University by
the eminent academician Professor
Ashutosh Mukherjee, whose son and
the founder of Jan Sangh, Mr. Shyama
Prashad Mukharjee was a dear friend of
Dr. Radhakrishnan. He forced Professor
Sinha to settle the matter out of court
and, owing to the pressure, he finally
Power and politics play an essential role
in academia. The recent English syllabus
controversy proves that academics is
not free of powerful political influences.
The story of Mr. Jadunath Sinha and Dr.
Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan is symbolic of
this power-play in academics. It makes
us wonder if the traditions we follow
need to be reviewed and analysed for the
power dynamics they bring to life, over
and over again.

Feature Image Credits: Round Table India

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Somewhere on the walls of North Campus, there is written “Free Professor Saibaba.” The readings on the wall are clear, but are you paying attention? This Teachers’ Day, lets be criminals together.

On the afternoon of 9th May 2014, G.N. Saibaba, an English Professor at Ram Lal Anand College, was heading back home from the university when a group of policemen in plain clothes arrested him. His family was not informed about his arrest and this prompted his wife to file a missing persons report. The 90% disabled professor was charged under the notorious Unlawful Activities (Prevention) for his alleged Maoist links. The charges against him rested on letters, pamphlets, books, and videos seized during raids that were conducted in his house. After active efforts by his lawyers and public pressure, he was given unconditional bail from the Supreme Court in April 2016 on health grounds, however, he wasn’t reinstated at the college.

The case against Prof. Saibaba should not be seen in isolation. Nandini Sundar, a Delhi University professor and an internationally acclaimed academician, who has been working with Adivasi population in Chattisgarh for years now was booked for the murder of a tribal man in November 2016. The case was later struck off after the wife of the deceased said that she had given no names to the police. The page two of this newspaper will tell you that her book Subalterns and Sovereigns: An Anthropological History of Bastar, along with Against Ecological Romanticism: Verrier Elwin and the Making of an Anti-modern Tribal Identity by Archana Prasad, can be dropped from the postgraduate curriculum of History after DU’s academic council recommended these readings to be removed for ‘glorifying Naxals’ and ‘legitimising conversion of tribals to Christianity’. Recently, Pune Police arrested five wellknown lawyers, poets, and activists namely: Varavara Rao, Sudha Bharadwaj, Gautam Navlakha, Vernon Gonsalves, and Arun Ferreira in connection with a probe on the Bhima-Koregaon riots in January, the assassination plot of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and having Maoist links. These arrests raised the #UrbanNaxal debate on social media.

The apparent similarity in all these cases is that they all have been accused of being Naxalites since they talked about issues of lesser-known state oppression and there is little or no rationale behind these arrests. Arun Ferreira, a human rights lawyer, was released as innocent after spending five years in prison, and Binayak Sen is out on bail since 2011. Every story is the same when we reported on the updates about G.N. Saibaba’s trail, we heard the same arguments, when we reported on curriculum change the same questions about “Maoist sympathies” were raised. After a while, you figure out the suo-motto method of silencing the questions. Whether or not they are right or wrong you can decide for yourself, but the question is will you care enough to decide? To not ignore, but to acknowledge what the dissenters, and closer to home some of our professors, are trying to say is the least yet somehow, the most one can do.

The students at Delhi School of Journalism, tired after over 30 hours of continuous protest, gave a love letter to their professors, acknowledging their vulnerable position as ad-hocs. This teachers’ day, unless you are too cool to celebrate it all together, don’t reduce the essence of a teacher-student relationship to WhatsApp quotes. You can still give them handmade cards, but you know what’s better? Handmade placards that you can carry in the next Delhi University Teachers’ Association protest, be it against autonomy, unreliable job provisions, or the arrest of another professor. Attending classes is cool but if you join your ad-hoc teachers at the Faculty of Arts next time they host a sit-in against the vile rules of vacancy or permanent recruitment then it will be better. Be a good student and raise hell alongside your professors. Read the study material, pointers on the blackboard, and most importantly go through the readings on the wall.

Niharika Dabral

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The All India Federation of University & College Teachers’ Organisations (AIFUCTO) and Federation of Central Universities’ Teachers’ Associations (FEDCUTA) held a protest and courted arrest at Jantar Mantar, Delhi, on 5th September against the nondisclosure of the Chouhan Committee Report for 7th Pay Review Committee (PRC) and raised other demands regarding public higher education institutions in the country.
As per the Delhi University Teachers Association (DUTA)’s press release of the protest, “Pay Review Committee Report was submitted to MHRD more than six months ago. The PRC, that deals not only with pay revision but with all aspects of teachers’ service conditions, including permanent recruitment, promotions and pension, is expected to have made positive recommendations to address the grievances of teachers regarding contractualisation and adhocism of services.” AIFUCTO also sent a letter to the Prime Minister to intervene and implement the PRC recommendations, saying “We have repeatedly written to MHRD and UGC to share the content of the 7th Pay Review Committee Recommendations, a practice that has been followed by all previous governments because AIFUCTO is the apex organization representing the university and college teachers in the country”. Despite meeting with Human Resources Development Minister Mr Prakash Javadekar in May this year and being assured of the report’s release in a month, there are no signs of action regarding the same. Along with the PRC report declaration, the protesting teachers also raised demands of increasing the education allocation to 10% of the GDP, 100% funding of Government State and Central Universities and resisting the privatisation of Universities via granting autonomous status.
Rajya Sabha MP, D. Raja(CPI) also led a delegation of AIFUCTO and FEDCUTA Office Bearers to meet the HRD Minister on the day of the protest. The delegation also included the newly elected President of DUTA and FEDCUTA, Dr Rajib Ray, who said that the Minister assured of the disclosure of the PRC recommendations soon, but could not explain the delay. Mr Ray also said that such a move has been unprecedented because the PRC recommendations are to be made public every time. He also stressed the importance of a written document rather than verbal assurances, and that equal assistance must be provided to Central and State Universities.


Image Credits: National Herald

Rishika Singh

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‘Gooood morniiiiiing, Teeeaacherrrrr!’ This chorus is the first thing that comes to my mind as I write this article on the morning of 5th September. In the narrative of our life, this is that one chorus which is constant. So, for once, think about a world without teachers.  As hard as I think, a world without teachers is something that is impossible to imagine. The whole education system would collapse. Our whole being will be undefined; life will be a chaotic mess. I don’t know how the world would be if ever the teachers vanish from the story of our lives. I just know that our story would be incomplete and a sad one.

After our parents, teachers are the ones who have the strongest influence on our lives and personality. Sometimes they influence us in a way which completely transforms us. Yes, we hate homework or assignment deadlines and more so when they write ‘redo’! We resent all those times when they put us on spot in front of the whole class for an answer which we didn’t know. Sometimes, the following insult session and Parent-Teacher meeting was nothing short of brutal! I know they scared us, rebuked us, hit us, punished us (though, I’m not trying to justify or referring here to the 3rd degree punishments), flunked us, insulted us, hit us with a chalk and other things in the book of ‘101 reasons to hate teachers’. We have our personal Professor Snapes and Dumbledores; we dread or love them on the basis of our experiences. But, what is important for us to understand is that in the end, Professor Snape was also not the villain of the story. Whatever he did, he did it for Harry.

Thus, there is nothing like a good, bad, beautiful or ugly teacher. It’s all the situations and our perceptions which make us classify them. The significant lesson is to understand that teachers/professors are also human beings and not flawless. For some child, a certain teacher can be the best and for the other, a personal devil, especially sent by Satan from the underworld; we often see the world in binary of black or white and so does the figure of a teacher in good or evil. We need to see the shades of grey. We need to see how sometimes they have to do what they do. None us would be reading this had it not been for those teachers who relentlessly helped us read and taught us a language which was not our mother tongue.

Always keep in mind that for every Doloros Umbridge from Harry Potter, there is a Mr. Kobayashi, the headmaster in Totto Chan: The Little Girl at the Window who would say,“Having eyes, but not seeing beauty; having ears, but not hearing music; having minds, but not perceiving truth; having hearts that are never moved and therefore never set on fire. These are the things to fear,” and help slay all our other dragons of fear which shackle our dreams and aspirations. These are the kinds of professors, headmasters, teachers, mentors that we need to remember and celebrate today.

Take a moment, go down the memory lane and remember all those teachers/professors who touched your life, taught you valuable lessons which were not a part of textbooks but shaped your personality. Even find that friend who always became your teacher before the exams and helped you pass. Thank all those teachers who had unwavering faith in you and motivated you whenever you made a mistake or couldn’t pick yourself up after a failure. Celebrate teachers like Miss Stacy (Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery) who asked you whenever you were having a bad day to think, “Tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it.” And most importantly, teach someone who doesn’t or didn’t ever have the privilege to know who a teacher is. Keep spreading the light and knowledge around this Teachers Day.

Nidhi Panchal
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Image Credits: www.icr.org

This week I was asked by my editor if I had any opinions on Teachers’ day and how it impacted my life.  At first I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to write about this, but after thinking about it for a couple of hours, I agreed. The thought of embarking on the nostalgic experiences related to all the teachers of my life, motivated me to explore this subject in detail. Here is what I came up with –

Teacher, the word itself is mostly used to describe people who taught you in school or college.  They are teachers, but we often ignore a huge crop of species who have taught us the teeny weeny intricacies of life, with just their presence around us. Here are a few who never got the title of a teacher but deserve it without a doubt:


1) Your parents and relatives –  

Who taught you to walk? Who taught you to be yourself? Your parents! Your grandparents taught you to respect your parents and they often taught you about certain ethics of life which you could never get from others. Even your closest relatives have something to offer to you from their kitty of experiences.

2) The wrong decision –

Every decision is subjected to a result. Every result is either positive or negative. If your result is unfavorable, then what you’ve eventually learnt is that you weren’t quite ready for the opportunity. It means, you should try it again, with a bit more precision in mind and hard work in actions.



3) The paw –

Loyalty and kindness are important ethics of life that ‘Shiro’ can teach you with the simple wag of her tail, and ‘Puss in Boots’ could teach you with the brushing of his cheeks against your leg. In fact there is so much more you can learn from the unconditionally loving furball sitting next to you.


4) Mother Nature –

Have you ever sat at the edge of a cliff, stood on the terrace or lied on the beach during sunrise? If you have, you are bound to learn about warmth, punctuality and other subjective feelings that the universal teacher teaches each and every kid free of cost.

5) Music, literature and art –

Songs and lyrics can teach you different things, like literature. Some of it ends up being cheesy while majority of it is inspirational, a reflection of the society and so much more. Authors, poets, and manuscripts have so much to share, so much to teach.

And then there are teachers who explain the intricacies of the above mentioned relationships to the fresh mind which has to digest the material required to prosper in life as a good human being. There are quite a few others whose lessons are equally informative and interactive. So this teacher’s day make sure you wish your teachers. All of them.

Graphic by Naman Sehgal for DU Beat.