CHENNAI: Even as politicians, bureaucrats and people from all walks of life took to the social media on October 15, celebrating the birth anniversary of former President APJ Abdul Kalam as World Students’ Day, the United Nations denied having announced any such day.
This is in sharp contrast to reports that Kalam’s birthday was declared as World Students’ Day by the United Nations in 2010. In fact, special international days are usually accepted globally only after they are declared by the UN General Assembly.
Union Minister Prakash Javadekar on October 15 tweeted, “The birthday of Dr A.P.J Abdul Kalam - The most popular President of India - is celebrated as # WorldStudentsDay. He was a real teacher & loved students & even died while delivering a lecture at the Indian Inst. of Management Shillong. My tributes to the #BharatRatna #Abdulkalam.” Many leaders cutting across partylines also posted similar content. Several educational institutions organised the World Students’ Day celebrations on their campuses.
The common explanation was that the late scientist was fond of his achievement of being a teacher, among others. While the country has been celebrating this over the last few years, no one knows how it originated. Rajiv Chandran, National Information Officer, UN Information Centre for India and Bhutan, told Express over the phone that no such announcement was made by the organisation. In fact, in the UN official website, October 15 is declared as the International Day of Rural Women. Further, in an email response to a clarification sought by KM Karthik, founder of All India Private Colleges Employees Union, Chandran said, “For the UN to declare any Day, it has to be moved in the General Assembly by a Member-State and then the issue is discussed, debated and voted upon. None of this has happened with the day (Kalam’s birthday) you mention.”
For example, June 21 was declared as International Day of Yoga after India had submitted an appeal in the General Assembly. “Recognising its universal appeal, on December 11, 2014, the United Nations proclaimed June 21 as the International Day of Yoga by resolution 69/131,” the website states.
“International days are occasions to educate the public on issues of concern to mobilise political will and resources to address global problems and to celebrate and reinforce achievements of humanity,” the site says.