The teacher I will never forget

18 prominent personalities from the region remember their teachers who left an indelible impression on them.

punjab Updated: Sep 05, 2018 11:15 IST
HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
Hindustan Times
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(HT Photo)

On Teacher’s Day today, 18 prominent personalities from the region remember their teachers who left an indelible impression on them, the life lesson they learnt from them and tell how the teacher-student relation has changed over the years.

‘Always respect your teachers’

Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh

Two incidents remain etched in my memory as defining moments in my young life. I had always seen people bow before my father Maharaja Yadavindra Singh, however I saw him touch the feet of his teacher, Professor Dhani Ram. I also distinctly remember my house master Mr Nayar. He unerringly hit his target every time he turned around to throw the chalk.I have learnt that one must always respect one’s teachers above everything and everyone.Nowadays, the relationship between students and teachers has become commercial in nature like that of a client and a businessman.

‘I learnt patriotism’

Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar

I vividly recall my Class 9 and 10 English teacher KL Gera, who was pivotal in shaping my personality. He taught me at the government school in Bhali Anandpur, Rohtak. He used to focus on character building and his style of teaching was very engaging.He often said ‘make yourself necessary to the world, the world will give you bread.’Honesty, integrity, patriotism, selflessness and working for the welfare of society are among the many lessons I learnt from him.Earlier, students used to revere their guru; they believed that his place was next to God. Now, the relationship between teachers and students is akin to a ‘contract’.

‘Lesson in punctuality’

Himachal Pradesh CM Jai Ram Thakur

I owe a debt of gratitude to Bihari Lal Sharma, the headmaster of Government High School, Bagsiad, in Mandi district. His dedication, professionalism and commitment were unmatched.He taught me to be punctual, sincere and hardworking. These three qualities are my guiding force even today. I’m indebted to him for life.In the traditional setting, the guru-shishya parampara (culture) was venerated. The guru used to impart spiritual and academic knowledge and education was aimed at transforming a blank mind into a knowledgeable one. Today, teachers and students are more like friends. But still the word evokes respect.

‘Teaching impersonal now’

Lt Gen DS Hooda (retd) former GOC-in -C, Northern Command

As I look back to my days at St Columba’s School, Delhi, the one consistent image is that of Brother O’Farrell. A handsome Irishman with a beaked nose, walking the corridors hands behind his back and head slightly bowed as if always in thought.He not only taught us the nuances of English but also moral values to guide us through life. We were inspired by the manner in which he made the school his whole life and teaching us a mission.Teaching has become impersonal. This was perhaps inevitable because society has transformed. I mourn the passing away of the strong bond that bound the teacher and the taught together.

Devoted to ‘first wife’

Dr Raj Bahadur vice-chancellor, Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, Faridkot

Sardar Kashmira Singh and Sardar Dilbagh Singh taught me math and history. Professor Duggal and professor DK Sharma taught me zoology and physical chemistry. In medical college, professor OP Bhardwaj, professor Lugani, DS Puri, RN Malik, V Padubidri were my mentors. The teachers who made an orthopaedist of me are professors SM Tulli and ON Nagi.Each one focused on hard work and meticulous devotion to the subject. Professor Tulli taught me that since we are known for our profession, our specialty should be treated as our “first wife”.Change in student-teacher ratio; upbringing of kids in nuclear families; and indulgence in internet.

‘He carved windows in our soul’

Prof B N Goswamy, art historian

I have very fond memories Pandit Parsram, my history professor at Government College, Hoshiarpur. He used to teach us ancient Indian history, and I can never forget his lessons. He never referred to any book he was using, he had it all in his head. The best part was that he would explain episodes from ancient India by drawing parallels with world history . He was a historian in the real sense of the term. He was inclusive, not narrow. He opened your mind to do many other things. He brought perspective and depth to his subject. He carved windows in our soul. I learnt the importance of keeping an open mind and being inclusive.

‘Work hard and be disciplined’

Suresh Arora director general of police, Punjab

My math tutor Mr Sardesi left a lasting impression on me. He delivered home tuitions when I was a Class 7 student at ND Paul Public School, Sector 21, in Chandigarh. Whenever I made a mistake, Mr Sardesi pinched my thighs and I would cry out in pain. He did this to ensure that I realised my mistake. I remember him saying, “In life we have to pay for every mistake. The only way to prevent mistakes is to work hard and be disciplined.”I have observed a marked decrease in the personal interaction between teachers and students. The overall development of students has suffered because of this.

‘Pious profession

Nirmal Kumar Singh Speaker, J&K and former deputy CM

My guide ML Kapoor, a former head of the history department at Jammu University. Since my student days to my appointment as history professor, he had a big role in my career.Hard work, consistency and honesty. He taught me the real meaning of teacher-student relation. I was like a family member for him. Materialism has overtaken academics. Teachers work for a salary, while students believe they are only doing their job. It is not a barter system and can’t be measured in terms of money. Teaching is a pious profession and its sanctity has to be maintained.

‘Teaching is a bilateral process’

Dr Jagat Ram Director, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research

Professor Amod Gupta, professor emeritus at PGIMER, left a lasting impression on me during my medical residency training and again when I joined as a faculty member.He always said if you want to excel at a speciality you must put your heart and soul into it. He emphasised on providing ethical patient care and treating patients with empathy.There has been a downward slide in the teacher-student relationship over the years. Teaching is a bilateral process. A good teacher can inspire students, however the student should also reciprocate by giving respect to teacher.

‘Hard work conquers All’

KR Lakhanpal former chief secretary, Punjab

Lala Sant Ram Sood, our headmaster at Khalsa School where I studied from Class 5 to 10, greatly inspired me. He was a symbol of communal harmony. He taught the unprivileged children for free. My social studies teacher Kartar Singh and math teacher Lal Chand also left a lasting impression on me. I have learnt that if one is disciplined and hardworking, everything else falls into place. There is no substitute for hard work.Education, health, environment and sanitation need a missionary touch to make an impact. Unfortunately, over the years teaching has turned mercenary in nature.

‘Help your juniors

Neeraj Chopra Asian Games gold medallist

My senior Jaiveer Singh, who introduced me to javelin, is my first teacher and I am what I am all because of him. He not only taught me the basics of the sport, but also encouraged me to believe in myself. Always support and guide your juniors without any motive. Jaiveer also taught me to work with sincerity and give my 100 percent. The relationship between teacher-student depends a lot on teachers. I got a wonderful teacher and will always be thankful to him for being my senior or rather my mentor.

‘Learnt compassion’

Manoj Kumar Dhar vice-chancellor, Jammu University

Professor AK Koul, who was my guide while I was pursuing PhD in the field of biochemistry, has been my role model and inspiration.I believe that education is not only limited to classroom learning. It also encompasses values such as sincerity, hard work, perseverance and compassion.In our days, teachers used to be strict and the respect they got from their students was mostly out of fear. However, over the years, students find it easier to approach their teachers.

‘Be mindful in all you do

Neelam Man Singh Chowdhry theatre personality

The first teacher who left an indelible impact on me is art historian Dr BN Goswamy, who taught me language, precision and the way to view the visual world. At National School of Drama, Ibrahim Alkazi taught me art was hard and must be viewed with the same seriousness as other professions. From BV Karanth I learnt that art is celebration and a lifelong commitment. Whatever you do must be done with mindfulness.I have been a teacher for 30 years and I take my role with utmost seriousness. The quality of students is getting better every year. They want to challenge themselves while partnering with the teacher.

‘Always stood by me’

Rani Balbir Kaur theatre actor-director

Kanta Atma Ram, who taught us English at the Government College of Girls, Sector 11, was the ideal teacher for me. She was brilliant at literature but never forgave indiscipline or casual approach to work.I learnt that a teacher should be mix of kindness and strictness. She always stood by me. I received many accolades from her for my singing and reprimands for neglecting academics.I have been teaching throughout my life and feel that students want to reach out to teachers. I believe we are not grooming our students the way our teachers groomed us.

‘Guru-shishya parampara unimpeachable’

Prof Raj Kumar Vice-chancellor, Panjab University

l have been blessed to have commendable teachers throughout my life. All of them guided me and contributed to my life in one way or the other. The memories of my teachers who taught me at primary level in my village school have left a long-lasting impression on me.I learnt the value of time, discipline, consistency and hard work from my teachers and these values continue to inspire me.In this evolving society in the era of changing technology, the basic ethics still remain the same. Being from management discipline, I am a firm believer in the guru-shishya parampara, which is unimpeachable.

Holistic development

Jaspal Singh Sandhu Vice-chancellor, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar

SP Kanwal, the head of the botany department at DAV College, Amritsar, left a lasting impression on me as he not only taught his subject but also generated interest in literature, art and environment conservation among students of pre-medical classes.He believed in holistic development of students and did not confine himself to botany. There is disconnect between teachers and students now. Interaction between the two sides has reduced. Teacher-student ties are mechanical unlike earlier when teachers treated students like their children.

Kindled flame of learning

Lt Gen Vijay Oberoi (retd) former vice-chief of the army staff

Sister Charles Miriam was my favourite teacher at Nazareth Academy, Gaya, Bihar. We were in awe of her as she was a strict disciplinarian. She had a reservoir of knowledge, which she shared with me. She made me a seeker of knowledge.Her life lessons were to be confident, have a zest for life, be humble, yet firm, lead by example and take calculated risks to achieve your aim.The guru-shishya parampara is forgotten. Today, the teacher-student ratio is skewed for monetary reasons. The emphasis is on marks with hardly any personal attention.

Made me what I am

Gulzar Singh Sandhu Punjabi writer

Two teachers who taught me at Sri Guru Gobind Singh Khalsa School, Mahilpur, left a lasting impression on me. The first, my Class 9 science teacher, discerned I had little talent for science and asked me to take up Punjabi. The second, Sujaan Singh, encouraged me to write for college magazine.I learnt that an insightful teacher can help you realise the best in you and chart the course of your life.There is a sea change in teacher-student interaction. Earlier, we used to step aside on seeing a teacher, nowadays students happily jostle past their teachers.

(Contributed by Gaurav Bisht, Jatinder Kaur Tur, Surjit Singh, Gagandeep Jassowal, Ravi K Khajuria)

First Published: Sep 05, 2018 11:13 IST