Dr.Shiben Krishen Raina

Glory of Being a Teacher

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One of my students sent me some interesting information on WhatsApp a few years back. The information was as follows: In the year 1994 the then President of India, Late Shankar Dayal Sharma, was on an official visit to Muscat (Oman). The moment Air India plane landed at the airport; three interesting incidents happened:

Oman King never visits the airport himself to receive any foreign dignitary from any country, never! But, King of Oman himself went to the airport to receive the President of India. Then again, when the plane landed, Oman King climbed himself up the ladder and went inside the aircraft and accompanied the President.

Though a lot of many chauffeur-driven luxury cars were waiting to carry the Indian President to the Royal Palace, Oman King himself drove the car in which the president was to sit and travel.

Later, when reporters asked the King as to why he broke so many protocols, the King replied: “I did not go to the airport to receive Mr. Sharma because he was the President of India. The fact of the matter is, I had studied in India and learned so many things over there. When I was studying in Pune, Mr. Sharma was my respected professor, and this is the reason I did all this out of my respect and reverence for my teacher.” It is said that King of Oman Sultan Qaboos’s father, an alumnus of Ajmer’s Mayo College, sent his son to study in Pune for some time, where he was former President Shankar Dayal Sharma’s student. He completed a part of his early education from a private institution in Pune.

Great indeed! This is the magnanimity, relevance, and glory of being a teacher.

With this instance, I am also reminded of a memoir.

Long back, I had asked for an appointment with the President Shankar Dayal Sharma to present my newly published book to him. The book in Hindi comprised of detailed essays on the works of Kashmiri poetesses: Lal Ded, Habba Khatoon and Arni Mal. Initially, the time granted was ten minutes only, but it was so great of the President to carry on the meeting for around half an hour inquiring about my literary pursuits and other academic attainments. He talked to my daughter and asked her as to what was the literal meaning of Aparna? My daughter replied so promptly and intelligently that the late President was highly impressed. He even put me a question politely:’Was I from Rainawari?’ Looked the late President was aware of some localities of Srinagar and obviously must have been under the impression that all Rainas hailed from Rainawari. When I said:’No, from HabbaKadal’ he gave a pleasant smile. We talked about Kashmiri luminaries like Lal Ded, NundReshi, Habba Khatoon, Mahjooretc for a while. His love, regard and esteem for writers and artists was really remarkable. In the meantime, my wife exchanged pleasantries with Vimla Sharma the wife of the Late President who, too, out of courtesy joined the meeting.

It was really my privilege to have a cup of tea and snacks(Paneer Pakora) with the President which were offered to me and my family so fondly and warmly.

Those moments of my proud and memorable meeting with the teacher-turned President Shri Shankar Dayal Sharma are truly precious moments recorded indelibly on my memory screen.

Author of this article is a Writer, Translator and Professor and is currently based in Dubai.

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