A tribute to my teacher Mr. Abdul Hakeem

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Teachers would love the following story from Bhutan. I am dedicating these notes to Mr. Abdul Hakeem, my teacher in the Middle School. He was affectionally called “Hakeem Hazrat” by one and all. He had earned that respect!

The following anecdotes and the story of Bhutan that all Budget & Planning Departments of Governments should heed. Indeed, speaking for India, we must express our gratitude to the founding fathers for laying the foundation of our nation on Education! India occupies the 2nd spot with IIT’s and information technology, thanks to Pandit Nehru and Maulana Azad for planting the seeds.

The very first thing I do when I wake up is to check my calendar, what’s app, text, facebook, linked-in, twitter, cfp, aol and a few Gmail accounts, all in one place in less than 30 minutes, I read a few messages and respond to some.

One such message that caught my attention came from Jenny Parikh. I have never met her but have exchanged a lot of information on life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, she has got that deep philosophical bent.

The message was exemplary and was about “Teachers” and how they are treated in Bhutan. Every nation can learn a valuable lesson from it and seriously consider prioritizing its educational system in uplifting the whole country.

Bhutan is a tiny little kingdom between India and China https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhutan.

Here are a few anecdotes;

On the ring of the school bell, the kids would rush in and sit up on the school benches without looking if they were clean – Hakeem Hazrat would say, “kids, look at the dog, he cleans the floor with his tail before he sits, why can’t you do the same?” Hazrat (Teacher) will be happy to know that, even today, whenever and wherever I sit, I dust it off before I sit. Not only that, as an extension of that act, when I park my car, I make sure it is away from water puddle, neither my friend nor I should walk through an inch deep water or mud and get the shoes dirty.

Hakeem Hazrat had a habit of telling us that he will call our parents if we don’t score the right marks in school, the threat worked, and invariably we behaved. Times were different then, he disciplined us with his foot long cane that he used as a ruler, I still remember the red and blue ink spots on that rod, someday, I was going to get rid of it.

He would also call the parents to see if the kids were behaving well in homes. I distinctly remember begging my Mother to tell him that I was a good kid and for the whole week I pleased her, doing whatever she asked me to do, even if I wanted to play outside the home, I would seek her permission. What an obedient kid I was! She may have prayed for Hazrat for getting her son to behave so well. He had earned the best wishes from many parents.

I am ambidextrous, meaning, I can write with both my hands individually and simultaneously, backward and forward in English, Urdu, Hindi and Kannada languages. Thanks to Hakeem Hazrat again for causing me to be one. One day, our cow had kicked me on my hand as I was playing with her tail while my Dad was milking, of course, I was thrown several feet up in the air, that was a hard kick, she was a Hallikar, and she did not like anyone but my Dad. So, I started crying about doing the homework, and I did not want to be caned. So my Mother sat down and showed me how to write with my left hand. What a beginning!

When I was in the seventh grade, he brought in a Tanzanian Student studying at Hebbal Agricultural College to give us a talk. That man gave a very inspirational speech, and I can never forget his funny phrase, “my country is my country” he could not pronounce “t” in the word ‘country’, and instead, it sounded “t” of tiranga or “t” in the Hispanic tortilla. We laughed! Country (with tirganga sounding t) means absurdity in colloquial language.

Hakeem Hazrat was a positive influence on my outlook on education, I may be one of the first three Native Yelahankans who earned a master’s degree, the other ones I recall are Srinivasan and SuKumar. There were many who did Law, Arts, and Engineering degrees. Srinivasan went on to become the All India Radio Chief in Bangalore, he did his Masters in Kannada. SuKumar is somewhere in California, he was #1 Rank in Chemistry (M.Sc) from Bangalore University and Satya was #1 Rank in Engineering.

Hazrat was instrumental in jumping me from grade II to V, skipping III and IV grade. Thanks to my Dad, he taught me reading and writing in four languages when I was five! I don’t know how he knew the languages, he did not even go to High School but had superb command in all the languages and had excellent handwriting!  He surprised me with his letter in English to me when I was in Saudi Arabia. He was the Mayor of the town and a council member for many years. I wish I had known how he got is linguistic skills.

My last meeting with Hakeem Hazrat was when I got off the Bike to show him my respects. This whole tribute came because of an incident mentioned in the following article about Bhutan’s culture. Indian culture values her teachers.

I am sure all traditions have some prayers for teachers; The Guru Shishu parampara in Hinduism is laudable, their reverence for Guru’s in Sikhism is beyond admiration, the Jains have the Namokar Mantra that bows to teachers and Muslims have the universal prayer that seeks goodness for all humanity including teachers.

Hakeem Hazrat cared about education, he believed education would uplift people, and he was particular about educating girls. He approached every family about education. He was a great man! He lived an exemplary life. There are several such anecdotes, and to honor him, and to keep him alive in my memory, his name is a part of my password combinations.

I appeal to all humans to focus on educating women, if they do, the entire societies will change for the better.

A documentary about Bhutan needs to be made and placed at every government planning meeting to get their priorities right. The best investment a nation can me is in education rather than military.  I am blessed to have been one of the founding directors of Pratham Dallas, and also an organizer of fundraising for Zindagi Trust – both committed to educating children in India and Pakistan respectively.

BHUTAN DOES THE RIGHT THING; HONORS HER TEACHERS

His Majesty, the King of Bhutan Jigmey Namgyal Wangchuk, was coronated as the 5th King of Bhutan in 2008. A month after the coronation, he made *education and health services completely free for his subjects throughout the kingdom*.

In Bhutan, no one pays for education and health services.
He increased the *salaries of the teachers which is more than the bureaucrats*.
In front of teachers, he *never sits* on his throne; instead, he sits on a regular chair.
However, he *offers a higher chair to teachers.*

In royal functions, there are always few *Seats reserved for teachers.*
The teachers in Bhutan are required to pay the *minimum tax.*

The Primary purpose of displaying *immense respect to teachers* are to encourage better education system in the kingdom.

Due to his consistent effort, after ten years, the *education system of Bhutan is one of the best in the world.*

The world doesn’t need mighty kings and leaders equipped with nuclear bombs, but the world needs *wise kings and leaders, who put efforts to improve the lives of people.*

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