Gaon Connection Founder Neelesh Misra Pens A Heartfelt Note On Teacher Connection’s Book Launch
As Gaon Connection launches a book documenting the success stories of teachers from India’s rural hinterland, its founder pays a tribute to the community of educators. He writes about his tryst with the teaching fraternity.
Neelesh Misra 5 Sep 2023 7:47 AM GMT
I come from a family of teachers. My father and mother have both been teachers, my mother-in-law, both my aunts, my sister-in-law, the wives of three of my cousins -- you throw a pen and it will land on a teacher in my family.
So I understand the world of our Teacher Connection project at a very personal level apart from my deep admiration and respect for teachers in general. I also know that if I wasn't doing all the diverse things I am getting an opportunity to do, I would have been a teacher. Um, that's wrong, actually, because in mentoring our Mandli of writers whose stories I narrate nationally on radio, I already am a teacher. But some day, you shall certainly find me in a classroom, because my happiest time is spent around children and young people.
My parents last year celebrated the 50th anniversary of their wedding -- but after a month, the anniversary of a cause that is bigger to them than everything, and that has bound our family in invisible ways. It was the 50th anniversary of the village school that both of them created in 1972, a month after getting married, in a small hut on a piece of land my father bought from his savings in Canada. They named it Bharatiya Gramin Vidyalaya. My father Dr. S.B. Misra used to walk 12 kilometres to his school every day and it was his childhood dream that he would build a school near his village so that other students would not have to make that long walk. My mother was a teacher in the city -- Lucknow -- and she gave up all her city comforts to embrace village life and made her husband's dream her own. Together, they have changed thousands of lives and even today, the biggest everyday joy of their lives is to silently admire the school campus they have built with my mother's jewellery, my father's savings, and resources of the school. They gave it all they had.
Teachers are among the most selfless people in the world. The Indian teacher, more so -- the guru-shishya tradition is in our DNA, it has soaked our culture and values and worldview. Teachers give to their students all they know, expecting nothing in return. I am not saying that all teachers have this virtue, this secret sauce, this superpower. I am sure a very large number of teachers do it just as a source of livelihood -- and fair enough. But there is an unsung majority of teachers who bring joy and hope and an uplifting spirit to the classroom every day -- and are never celebrated.
Across India, hundreds of thousands of teachers have made small and big sacrifices, and make small and big contributions -- some visible, most invisible -- to their schools and their students every day. These contributions shape lives, but they are never documented. Our longterm campaign "Teacher Connection" grows out of this eagerness, this hunger, to celebrate teachers every day -- not just on Teachers Day.
We at Gaon Connection hope that our efforts shall somewhere make a small contribution to bringing back to the Indian teacher the respect and position in society that they used to have earlier.
Come, let us go back to peep into the classrooms. Let us make our Teacher Connection.