New Delhi: I am not your President today, call me Mukherjee sir," said President Pranab Mukherjee as he stood behind the teachers’ desk, addressing students of Sarvodaya Vidyalaya in the President’s Estate in New Delhi on the eve of Teachers’ Day. And then, added for emphasis, “I am just your Mukherjee sir."

In that single moment, Mukherjee, turned what would have been an interesting but ritualistic interaction to record Teachers’ Day, also the birthday of former president S. Radhakrishnan, into an intimate exchange with the students of 11th and 12th grades.

Addressing them in their familiar background—their classroom—Mukherjee had transported the President to the students, rather than, the official norm, which is bring the students to the President. “Mukherjee sir," was just that deft touch.

The engagement kicked off immediately after Prime Minister Narendra Modi concluded his interaction with students and teachers at Manekshaw Auditorium. The topic was the political history of India.

In a candid, hour-long address, Mukherjee spoke to the students about his childhood, the writing of the Constitution and the first general election.

“Till today, I have the urge of teaching somewhere. A teacher gives himself to the students and the job of a student is to draw from him as much as possible. I am explaining history as I have seen it," Mukherjee said.

He said democracy gives opportunity to common people to fulfil their dreams.

Mukherjee, who started his professional career as a college teacher in West Bengal, went back to the role after being invited by Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal to teach students and address teachers.

Recollecting incidents about his childhood, Mukherjee said, “To me, as a child, development was a road. Today, a road is taken for granted."

Remembering his days in school, Mukherjee told students, “I was a naughty child. I was just an average student. I had to walk 5km for my school and I used to complain to my mother about the distance. She used to tell me that she had no other option and always advised me to work hard."

The President addressed 60 students from Class XI and XII. The Delhi government had asked all government schools to make arrangements to ensure children watch the address by the Prime Minister and the President live.

Mukherjee later addressed teachers from Delhi government schools.

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