Video Producer: Aparna Singh
Video Editor: Prajjwal Kumar
Camera: Shiv Kumar Maurya
Yeh Jo India Hai Na… yahan we respect our teachers, but not when they say, “Oh, you are like Kasab!”
The teacher quickly said sorry and said the student was like his son but his words — “Oh, you are like Kasab!” — had done the damage. As the Muslim student said, it was not funny, such every day bigotry is something no Muslim student should face, least of all from his teacher.
But teachers can do worse. In Jalore, Rajasthan, a nine-year-old Dalit boy died after being beaten by his upper caste teacher in July 2022. For what? For drinking from the teacher’s pot of water.
More recently, we saw a school girl recite a poem in memory of Shraddha Walkar.
The school girl may have meant well — shaken up by the gruesome killing. But sadly, the poem was regressive, in partly blaming Shraddha for her fate, blaming her for choosing a partner against her parent’s wishes.
Perhaps the poem was spoon-fed to the girl by her teachers, or was the result of her conditioning at home and at school.
But surely, what we should expect is teachers telling their women students the opposite – not to let Shraddha’s death stop them from making independent choices — be it to leave their hometowns in search of work, be it to choose their partners, be it to choose the nature of their relationships.
And then there’s queer-phobia. “Are you a man?” is a question Adarsh E, a queer B.Ed student in Kerala is repeatedly asked by teachers on campus.
Teachers bullying queer students over their choice of clothes, cracking homophobic jokes! Are these the teachers we want?
And then this!
School children taking an oath that openly threatens violence against the minority community. Surely, if their teachers just stood by while their students were made to take this oath of hate, those teachers need to be called out.
But this is not about all teachers in India. We all have memories of some fine teachers. My wife teaches, both her parents were teachers. But Yeh Jo India Hai Na… here we now have some teachers whose bigotry or casteism or homophobia or gender insensitivity is hurting their students. And these are not the teachers India needs.