The Indian Herald

The Indian Herald

September 6, 2012

Why Teachers' Day not celebrated on pioneering educationist Savitri Bai Phule's birth anniversary?

Voices are growing in support of observing Teachers' Day on the birth anniversary of Savitribai Phule, the pioneering educationist and a crusader for women's education in India.

As Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan's birthday that falls on September 3 is observed as Teachers' Day, there is a demand from different quarters to celebrate her birthday also as Teachers' day. 

On social networking sites and online forums, there is a huge debate going on, as to why Savitri Bai's contribution is not regarded. There is another suggestion that her birth anniversary be observed as women's day.

Savitri Tai, who was the wife of leading reformer and anti-caste movement head, Mahatma Jyotiba Phule, was one of the most important figures in the history of modern India. She opened the first school for downtrodden girls in Maharashtra.

An accomplished poet, Savitri Phule, led mass movements for education and against upper caste hegemony in the era when lower caste were discriminated against openly and untouchability was widely prevalent across the country. 

Savitri Tai was born on January 3, 1831. She was the first women teacher of the first even girls' school opened in India in the British era. The school was opened in 1852. Her contribution in supporting her husband despite the fierce resistance of orthodox upper caste Hindus, is unparalleled.

The role of Savitribai in widow remarriage is too well-known. She took up responsibility of running Satyashodhak Samaj after her husband's death. On websites, Dalit intellectuals have now stirred a debate which is now entering mainstream discourse about according due status to Savita Phule and Mahatma Phule.

TIH Bureau

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