Published: 02nd January 2019
Jai Hind instead of Present sir: Meet the Rajasthani teacher who inspired the Gujarat government
Sandeep Joshi, a History teacher in Jalore in Rajasthan was the recipient of the ABVP's Professor Yashwantrao Kelkar Youth Award 2018
You've probably heard that for the Gujarat Government, the resolution for the year 2019 must have been to foster an extra dose of patriotism among its school students. To achieve this, the students from classes I to XII in the government, grant-in-aid and self-financed schools were asked to answer roll calls with 'Jai Hind' or 'Jai Bharat' instead of the current 'Yes Sir' and 'Present Ma'am'.
How did this ultra nationalist idea even begin?
The decision was taken by Gujarat's minister of Education, Bhupendrasinh Chudasama, reportedly influenced by Sandeep Joshi, a History Teacher in the Government Senior Secondary School, Rewat in Rajasthan's Jalore District, who made his students say 'Jai Hind' or 'Jai Bharat' during the roll call.
The recipient of the Professor Yashwantrao Kelkar Youth Award 2018 by the Akhila Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, Joshi was more than excited to talk about the Gujarat Government's initiative. "I felt so happy to know that the government and society were so welcoming towards a thought of mine. It creates so much positivity. Also, if a student is patriotic since childhood, they would not indulge in corruption and discrimination when they grow up," says Joshi.
Making change: Joshi has brought about a lot of changes in his school and his village
So how did it all begin? Joshi tells us. "At the time of attendance, the students usually say 'Yes Sir' or 'Present'. Now, each class in our school has an average of 40 students. So let's assume that a teacher gets to hear 'Yes Sir' 40 times a day, around 1000 times a month and around 10,000 times a year," says Joshi. "Whatever the child says and hears definitely has an impact on them. So I thought, why not replace 'Yes Sir' with 'Jai Bharat'. This creates a positive environment in the whole classroom," adds this teacher who believes that childhood is the perfect time to inculcate cultural values in a person. To dream of this initiative making every child patriotic is utopic and Joshi isn't unaware of it. "But imagine, even if at least 20 per cent of the children turn patriotic because of these initiatives, I consider it a victory," he says.
The ABVP Award was a total shocker to Joshi, who had dreamt of being a teacher or a journalist since childhood. "I live in a small village in Jalore in Rajasthan. Our village has the lowest number of literate women in the entire Rajasthan. So, I'd always wanted to do something to change this. This is why I became a teacher," he says.
Bringing change, one at a time
There's a lot more, though. Joshi has brought a lot of new changes in his school and his village in his 14-year-long career. One such initiative is Kanya Pujan, which has been happening on every Navratri since the Nirbhaya incident happened. "Here, we make all the boys in our school do puja for all the girls who are under nine years. It is just a psychological teaching method. A boy wouldn't dare to misbehave with a girl after performing a puja with her, where he equates her to god," says this teacher, who believes that sexist and misogynistic films and music are contributing a lot towards creating an unsafe environment for women. He says that many teachers from Rajasthan have followed this practice and Kanya Pujan of around 30,000 girls are done every year in schools in the state.
Joshi jas also created a library in the school that isn't locked. Ever. "Any student can take any book from here without making a record of it. This is just an exercise to build trust and encourage them to read more," he says. Turns out, no book has gone missing from the library ever! He has also created galleries in the school that explains his students everything about all the states in India.