India is a country where people of diverse cultures and religions live together in peace and harmony. Many festivals are celebrated in different parts of India. There are festivals for seasons and religions. There are also National Festivals, like Independence Day, Republic Day and Gandhi Jayanti, that we all celebrate to show our patriotism and unity as a nation. But have you heard of Environmental Day, Teacher's Day, Children's Day, Health Day and Literacy Day? These are important days that we celebrate every year for some special purpose. Some of these are celebrated only in India and others are celebrated worldwide.
World Environment Day:
World Environment Day was started by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in 1972. It is one of the main events through which the United Nations wants to create worldwide awareness about the environment and draw political attention towards it.
World Environment Day is celebrated all around the world on 5th June. 2002, almost hundred countries undertook thousands of activities, on World Environment Day. In spite of considerable efforts and achievements, many of the problems, which the Earth faced during the twentieth century are still unresolved. More than ever, we need to take the necessary steps to ensure that the environment remains every country's main concern.
World Environment Day aims to highlight the following:
1. Give environmental issues worldwide attention.
2. Encourage and empower people to become partners in working for the environment.
3. Promote an understanding that communities can change attitudes of others towards environmental issues.
4. Promote partnership among countries to ensure a safer future for all.
5. Have the mass media like television, radio and newspapers to write and report enthusiastically on the environment.
World Health Day:
Every year on 7th April, the world celebrates World Health Day. The main aim of the event is to provide health information and awareness about health. It is sponsored by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Many events are organised to mark the importance of health for a productive and happy life. It has a different theme each year focusing on health issues of various age groups. For example/ the theme for World Health Day, in 2003, is 'Healthy Environment for Children'. Millions of children die every year from environmental-related illnesses. They can be saved by the creation of healthy settings, whether it be the home, the school/ or the community at large.
Each year a new theme is highlighted and used to create awareness about its. effect on health. All of us can be a part of this effort by joining in the celebration of this day every year. We can make posters, distribute pamphlets and organise talks related to the theme and be a part of the chain providing health information.
International Literacy Day is celebrated every year on 8th September. Events are held throughout the week that focus attention on worldwide literacy issues and promote worldwide literacy. Almost 875 million of the world's adults do not know how to read or write, of which nearly two-thirds are women. More than 110 million children have no access to formal education. Progress is being made but not fast enough. With the development of new technologies/ the gap between rich and poor countries is growing wider. Illiteracy is now a global problem.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural organisation (UNESCO) is the founder of International Literacy Day. It appoints a jury which awards many international literacy prizes every year. International Literacy Day coincides with the beginning of a new school year in many countries. Teachers use this day to emphasise the importance of literacy in the lives of both children and adults.
Removing illiteracy has been one of the major programmes of the government of India since independence. Some of the main aims are :
1. Generate public opinion in favour of the struggle against illiteracy.
2. Primary education for all the children of the country.
3. Promoting adult literacy and adult education .
In India, nearly 350 million people are illiterate. We have the largest number of illiterates in the world. The problem of mass literacy in this country is a very big one. But there are some bright spots in the picture. The achievement of hundred percent literacy by the State of Kerala proves that though the objective is hard to achieve, it is possible.
The celebrations for Literacy Day, in India include the giving away of the Satyen Maitra Memorial Awards by the Prime Minister of India to districts for their outstanding achievement in the field of Total Literacy Campaign. Many other events and competitions are held by schools, colleges and government organisations to highlight the importance of literacy.
In India, 5th September, is celebrated as Teacher's Day. This date has been selected because 5th September is the birthday of Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan, the first Vice-President of India and a great teacher. When Dr. Radhakrishnan became the President of India in 1962, some of his students and friends approached him and requested him to allow them to celebrate his 'birthday'. In reply, Dr. Radhakrishnan said, 'instead of celebrating my birthday separately, it would be my proud privilege if September 5th is observed as Teacher's Day. The request showed Dr. Radhakrishnan's love for the teaching profession. From then onwards, the day has been celebrated as Teacher's Day all over the country.
On Teacher's, Day, students in schools all over India show their admiration and respect for their teachers by organising a special function or event for them. In some schools, the teachers' rest while senior students are allowed to take on the responsibility of teaching. It gives the students an opportunity to experience and understand the nature of a teacher's profession.
All over India, 14th November is celebrated as Children's Day. 14th November is the birthday of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. He was India's first Prime Minister. Pandit Nehru was very fond of children. He saw the future of the nation in them.
There are many special events organised for children on Children's Day. In some places sweets are distributed to all children. There are special Children's Day programmes on television. Speeches are given about 'Chacha Nehru' that's what he was lovingly called by the children. Special competitions, like fancy dress competitions or quizzes are organised on this day.
Schools all over India celebrate this day with special cultural programmes put up by their teachers. Food packets are distributed to students. Drawing competitions, plays, folk dances and games are also organized so that the children can enjoy themselves.