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Sunday, Sep 22, 2019

At his alma mater, President Kovind’s touching gesture to his teachers

Noting that he too had studied at the college, Kovind said: “I still remember how difficult it was at that time (1960) to get admission in this college.”

india Updated: Feb 26, 2019 01:40 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
President Ramnath Kovind surprised many in the audience when he humbly bent down to touch the feet of his teachers.
President Ramnath Kovind surprised many in the audience when he humbly bent down to touch the feet of his teachers.(Video grab)

It was a rare meeting to begin with. President Ramnath Kovind was meeting his teachers at the senior school he had joined many years ago, right when the President had moved to Kanpur 60 km away as a child. And he was to felicitate them. President Kovind did, but he surprised many in the audience when the 73-year-old President humbly bent down, to touch their feet.

Two of them, Hari Ram Kapoor, 92, and TN Tandon, 86, were on the dais. Both of them gave him a pat on his back before greeting him with folded hands as he draped the shawl around their shoulder. The third teacher, Pyare Lal, 98, had been too unwell to make it to the dais. President Kovind walked down to him.


“Guruji, you haven’t forgotten me?” President Kovind asked Pyare Lal, his English teacher, according to a report in Amar Ujala quoting the teacher’s daughter-in-law who was beside him. He hadn’t. ““He (President) was a kid then,” Pyare Lal later told reporters. Hari Ram Kapoor said he had been honoured on many occasions. But this was, by far, the most memorable. “I am so fortunate,” he said, according to the newspaper.

President Kovind — born in UP’s Paraukhan 60 km from Kanpur — had gone on to become a lawyer who appeared at the high court and Supreme Court. He also joined politics, becoming the leader of the BJP’s Dalit wing and a member of the Rajya Sabha for 12 years. When he was elevated as President in 2017 and set to move to the presidential palace, Ramnath Kovind had fondly spoken about humble origins and his first home, a hut with a leaking roof.

On Monday, he also addressed the alumni association conference and annual day function of the BNSD Inter College and Shiksha Niketan, Kanpur, where he had studied.

President Kovind was in Kanpur as part of his two-day visit to Uttar Pradesh that ended on Monday. At the event in Kanpur’s DAV College where he inaugurated the institution’s centenary celebration, President Kovind stressed on Indian values, which he said, combined with modern science and technology, could hugely benefit humanity.

The president was addressing the students of DAV College, Kanpur after inaugurating the institution’s centenary celebrations.

Today is an era of technology and the future will be of artificial intelligence, President Kovind noted. “You have to face new challenges. We have to utilise the new instruments of technology for development and move ahead,” he told the audience. President Kovind also remembered the crucial role that his teachers had played.

“For a poor student like me, it was not easy to pursue studies and stay in Kanpur. But, the guidance and assistance of teachers and the government scholarship helped me to move ahead in life,” he added. Kovind said that his father too had studied at the same college and was a classmate of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

First Published: Feb 25, 2019 22:32 IST