A photo of the Indian flag being hoisted at a submerged school in Assam on Independence Day recently went viral. In the photograph, one can see two little boys, neck-deep in water, raising their hands in salute as the Indian flag is unfurled by a teacher.
This photo, taken at the Naskara Lower Primary School in Dhubri district, evoked patriotic emotions among many on social media. Many users on WhatsApp and Facebook applauded how the teacher and students braved the floods to hoist the national flag.
The photo was first shared by Mizanur Rahman, an assistant teacher at the school, who is also featured in the photograph.
However, what people are unaware of is the reason why the photo was taken despite the heavy floods which took so many lives. It was because of a government rule, making it mandatory for every school to record the Independence Day proceedings and send them to the state education department in Guwahati as proof of participation. The children chosen for the photograph knew how to swim while other students and teachers watched from higher ground at the school.
While talking to Huffpost India, headmaster Tazem Sikdar said,
We hoisted the flag, sang 'Jana Gana Mana' and 'Vande Mataram' while the rest of the students followed us from the road. In my 22 years of service, this is the first time we faced flood on Independence Day.
What is saddening is that Mizanur's teenage cousin Rashidul Rahman drowned in the flood a few hours after the photo was taken. His family hopes that the Facebook post will help bring attention to the heavy floods that ravaged nearly 484 villages in Dhubri district.
While speaking with News Laundry, special correspondent of Assam Tribune, Kalyan Barooah, said,
This is the most unfortunate part; small children put their lives in danger just for proof that they celebrated the day. Secondly, this is just one school. Many schools in Assam are underwater, this should be highlighted in the national media.
This instance was not of a school boasting its patriotism. This was simply a school showing the state's education authorities that it had complied with the rules of hosting a flag-hoisting ceremony on Independence Day and photographed the event. That the two teachers and students were not the only ones that braved the floods that Assam is facing is a testimony to a commitment of a different kind. But the fact that the school had to conduct the ceremony speaks volumes about the bureaucratic hurdles that challenge education in India.
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