Why is Teachers' Day celebrated; when was it first observed
Across the globe, Teachers' Day is celebrated on different dates. Internationally, teachers are commemorated on World Teachers' Day on October 5. In India, the day is famously celebrated a month before on September 5, to honor former President, Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan. While his connection to Teachers' Day is widely known, here's more on the day's history that you may not be aware of.
Born on September 5, 1888, Dr. Radhakrishnan was a renowned scholar, teacher, educationist, and politician. He held many degrees including an M.A., D.Litt. (Hony.), LL.D., D.C.L, Litt.D., D.L, F.R.S.L, F.B.A., and was an Honorary Fellow of All Souls College (Oxford University). A prolific writer, he also authored many literary works, with the 1918 book titled Philosophy of Rabindranath Tagore.
Dr. Radhakrishnan also taught at Mysore University and Calcutta University, where he was appointed the King George V Chair of Mental and Moral Science. He went on to serve as Vice-Chancellor of Andhra University (1931-36) and Banaras Hindu University (1939-48).
For his contributions to education, Dr. Radhakrishnan was awarded the Bharat Ratna (India's highest civilian award) and knighthood in 1931. He was also nominated for the Nobel Prize 27 times! After independence, he represented India at UNESCO (1946-52) and was the Indian ambassador to USSR from 1949-1952. He became India's first Vice President and later became President after his predecessor Rajendra Prasad's retirement.
Notably, Dr. Radhakrishnan was adored by many of his students, who, after he became President in 1962, asked him if they could observe his birthday as 'Radhakrishnan Day'. He responded, "Instead of celebrating my birthday, it would be my proud privilege if September 5 is observed as Teachers' Day." And so, the first Teachers' Day was celebrated in India in 1962 on September 5.
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, one of Dr. Radhakrishnan's closest friends, once said of him, "He has served his country in many capacities. But above all, he is a great teacher from whom all of us have learned much and will continue to learn." He added, "It is India's peculiar privilege to have a great philosopher, a great educationist and a great humanist as our President."