While his students looked forward to his classes as a teacher, the entire nation looked up to him as its President. Every year, we celebrate Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan’s birth anniversary on September 5 as Teacher’s Day. It is not just to honour his passion as a teacher but to also remember his values of courage and dedication that he held steadfast as President even as our country underwent its toughest phase.
President, ambassador, author, philosopher… Dr. Radhakrishnan always remained first and foremost a teacher – to his class and his country.
Know the teacher
He was born on September 5, 1888, in the small town of Tiruttani in south India.
He graduated from Madras Christian College.
He was a scholar of comparative religion and philosophy.
His first job was as a professor in the Department of Philosophy at Presidency College, Chennai.
He was the Vice-Chancellor of Andhra University (1931-36) and Banaras Hindu University (1939-48).
Was named Spalding Professor of Eastern Religions and Ethics at the University of Oxford.
He was the first Vice President of India (1952 – 1962) and the second President of India (1962 – 1967).
He was awarded the Bharat Ratna, the highest award of the nation, in 1954.
He died on April 17, 1975, at the age of 86.
First bencher or back bencher, popular or not — all of us have one favourite teacher whom we will never forget — for inspiring us, laying the foundation for our famous future, or simply touching our life in an unforgettable way.
Let’s take a look at what famous people have said about their teachers…
I had such great teachers… Maths was the toughest subject, and I was first in my class in maths because of Mr. Leach – NASA Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the second person to set foot on the Moon, in the educational video ‘Thank a Teacher’
I had trained very hard with Gopi sir (badminton coach Pullela Gopichand) and I want to give him full credit for this victory. I dedicate this victory to Gopi sir and my parents. : Olympic bronze medallistSaina Nehwal after winning the India Grand Prix Gold in January this year
The teacher who influenced me most as a high school student was Mr. K.V. Narayan (KVN), the headmaster of Sarada Vilas High School, Mysore. Even today, I remember KVN’s words: “Children, I want you all to learn one important lesson. That is, this country became a slave nation because we all looked after our families and not our society. Therefore, it is very important for every one of us to treat what belongs to the community much more carefully than what belongs to our family.
— N.R. Narayana Murthy, co-founder of Infosys.
Remember moments like when you sneaked a bite from your lunch box before the lunch break and your teacher just smiled at your stuffed mouth! A big salute to the creators of our destiny!
—Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar on Twitter
I would not be standing here if it weren’t for…Mr. Rawley Farnsworth, who was my high school drama teacher, who taught me ‘Act well the part, there all the glory lies’… I wish my babies could have the same sort of teacher…
— Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks during his Oscar speech
When I was in the fourth grade, I ran home after the first day to tell my dad that I had the best teacher anybody could ever have. Her name was Mrs. Duncan. I wanted to be a fourth grade teacher because of Mrs. Duncan. She helped me overcome my nerves and gain self-confidence.
— Oprah Winfrey, talk show host
It was the year 1936; I recall my initiation of education at the age of 5 years in Rameswaram Panchayat Elementary School. I had a teacher named Muthu Iyer who took special interest in me mainly because I performed very well in a class exercise. My father told me in later years that Muthu Iyer was not only a good teacher but he influenced and shaped me, inculcating in me good habits. He was a noble friend to my family. Even today I realise how my teacher loved teaching and took personal interest in his pupils.
Dr.A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, scientist and former President of India, interacting with the students of Pope John Paul II College of Education in 2008
To every young person listening tonight who's contemplating their career choice: If you want to make a difference in the life of our nation; if you want to make a difference in the life of a child - become a teacher.
Barack Obama, U.S. President, during his second State of the Union Address, 2011
For me, Madam Ann W., my English teacher at Bishop Cotton School, has always been my inspiration. The way she taught English was so refreshing, creative and inspiring that it gave us a zest to understand the subject more clearly. Even after her retirement, she was so full of energy that she went on to start a school of her own. She has become a friend to me now, still inspiring me.
— Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Chairman and Manging Director, Biocon.