Anyone can learn things from a book but a great teacher can make a difference between passing an exam paper and learning the life lessons, a great teacher can inspire you like nobody else. We salute the great teachers for whom teaching isn’t just a job but a higher calling.
The Naxalite movement started in India in the 1960s and early 1970s. And after all, what does a call for violent revolution against India as a Nation have anything to offer a sober democracy?
Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar once said: “The first thing in my judgment we must do is to hold fast to constitutional methods of achieving our social and economic objectives. It means we must abandon the bloody methods of revolution.”
Here is a story of Subhash Chandra Kundu, from Bashirat is a living embodiment of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar’s call for change, rejecting Naxalism for a life of teaching to the poor kids.
Subhash Chandra Kundu has contributed three decades of his life to teaching the methods of science to the underprivileged students in around the Basirhat area of the West Bengal and that too is for free.
Most of the students who come in his Physics classes belong to the families who can not afford to send them to college. And thanks to his efforts, many of them have stepped out of poverty and teaching at top institutions like the IITs and other prestigious colleges, universities. On the other side, we know how money-making and exploitative coaching centres that have mushroomed all around the country.
While speaking with the Telegraph, Subhash Chandra Kundu said:
“I am here to spread the knowledge of science, especially among students from low-income families… How can I slap them with the burden of fees…? Science is the way forward for these boys and girls… This can make them employable…”
It was the year 1988 when Subhash Chandra Kundu established the Institute of Physics on a small plot of land which he purchased fro his siblings. Before setting up the Institute of Physics, Subhash Chandra Kundu was a teacher at Basirhat High School and during those days, he would take tuition classes from students without from the students without asking for any money.
He believes that his modest salary as a government teacher was enough for him and even after his retirement, he relies on his pension. And thanks to the generous contributions from his former students and the well-wishers, the institute has grown over 30-years, although there are some serious challenges remain since he does not take any fee from his students.
At the starting, his students made small contributions but the remaining funds came from the may loans which he took to set up the institute. Today, the institute has 6-rooms–2-classrooms on the ground floor and while the rest of the rooms are for laboratories which he built and the various scientific instruments donated and bought over the years.
While speaking with the better India one of his student Rajib Shil, said:
“Kundu Sir is a teacher with an indomitable passion for education and only education, an institution… A man of extreme caliber, he knows no stopping… To every student irrespective of age from Basirhat and nearby areas, ‘Sir’ is akin to a demi-god and more of a parent than their real parents, and to the general public, he is a living legend… The magnificent physics laboratory set up at his home entirely by himself speaks volumes for him… His care, dedication, diligence, and determination are a lesson for lives to come.”
What inspired Subhash Chandra Kundu to take the responsibility of teaching students the science? While speaking with the telegraph Kundu said:
“I was into active politics between 1968 and 1971, when I was teaching at Basirhat College… The movement floundered as we tactically pursued the wrong line. My biggest takeaway from the movement was being infused with the spirit to serve. After being released from the Dum Dum correctional center in 1974, I decided to pursue a mission not through the path of armed revolution but by spreading science education among the poor.”
For Kundu, teaching science for free is an extension of his politics, As he wanted to serve the poor and dispossessed.
In another interview Kundu said:
“What should have been demanded through the ballot and not the bullet is accountability of such failures of the State as its inability to conquer poverty and inequality.” This is indeed a return of Kundu from Naxalism to the principles of Ambedkar, A return from Bullet to Ballot.
Though he is suffering from partial paralysis, a decade back due to a cerebral stroke, Kundu hasn’t only continued is work but also held competitions, quizzes across the district to generate the interest in the science of the generation next.
Speaking with the Telegraph Kundu said: “My advice to teachers would be to just do your job honestly and motivate the students… As I realized after coming out of the Naxalite stint, Albert Einstein is as relevant in Basirhat as he is in Europe or America… There is no impurity in education… So just keep teaching…”