As many as 91,000 questions were sent to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday, 16 February, when he interacted with students across the nation in an unprecedented conversational eventPariksha Pe Charcha, at the Talkatora stadium here.
The questions were sourced from various schools across the country, Social Media, MyGov, Narendra Modi App, all major news channels and students present at the venue. More than 20 such questions were then directly answered by PM Modi during the event, which developed into a spontaneous, delightful interaction between him and 10 crore people across the nation, including students, parents and teachers.
This interaction was also a raging hit on social media. Not only was it the number one trend on Twitter globally, conversations on #ParikshaPeCharcha got more than 2.5 billion impressions on Twitter.
In addition to watching it in schools and at the venue, lakhs of people also watched the event live on Youtube and Facebook. In an indicator of the seriousness of the cause of stress free exams, Google also offered a link of the event on its search homepage.
The unique initiative spearheaded by the Prime Minister to reach out to the students facing exams was immensely appreciated among the youngsters, evident by the fact that PM Modi received a roaring welcome from the school students present at the #ParikshaPeCharcha event.
The dialogue was peppered with PM Modi’s trademark humour, anecdotes from his own life as well as inspirational stories. He helped ease the students and made the almost two-hour long session an engaging exercise.
In his slice of life humour style, PM Modi had everyone in splits when he spoke of parents boasting about their children in social gatherings. In times as these, if your parents have not been able to boast about you, then you will face their wrath once they come home while your mother would have been chastised by your father all the way home, he said.
Apart from the humour, he drove the message of how a child’s achievements have become a matter of social prestige and pointed to this as one of the reasons for stress.
“Did you know Indian children are politicians by birth?” PM Modi made this observation that was received by peals of laughter across the auditorium.
“Indian children know who to go to in the family to get their specific needs fulfilled and to get what they want. They use diplomacy, cajoling, proxies and many such tactics too,” said PM Modi.
Celebration of exams as festivals
The palpable energy in the auditorium combined with the enthusiasm of lakhs of students tuning in the event in various parts of the country reverberated throughout the dialogue.
The environment resembled celebrations during festivals, making exams feel like a festival too. Inviting questions from the audience, PM Modi advised his young friends to keep the student in them alive forever.
Self-confidence: The key to success
On being asked the manner in which one can let go of nervousness and anxiety during the exam, PM Modi advised that one should remove the thought from their mind that someone else is testing them.
Instead, students should think that they are testing themselves and creating their future. He reminded students that the key to building self-confidence is to continuously work on oneself and make small improvements every moment by taking on new challenges.
He presented the example of the Canadian snowboarder Mark McMorris, who won a bronze medal in the ongoing Winter Olympic Games, despite the fact that he was in a coma just 11 months prior to the tournament.
PM Modi said that Mark did not let his circumstances dictate his life. Instead he let his immense faith in himself overcome all hurdles to win a medal for his country.
De-focus to Focus
“How do we focus? To focus, you have to first learn how to de-focus,” said the Prime Minister rather enigmatically.
He said that it is important to remind oneself to relax and not to focus on pressures relating to exams, career, and achievement and so on all the time.
Concentration is innate
PM Modi said concentration isn’t something that has to be specifically learnt. Every person does concentrate on something or the other during the day, it may be while reading, hearing a song, talking to a friend.
He recalled the advice given by great cricketer Sachin Tendulkar on the radio programme Mann Ki Baat. Tendulkar had said that his sole focus would be on the ball he is playing at the present, without bothering about the previous or the next shot.
He also recommended Yoga as a way to de-stress as well as improve concentration.
Beating stress the natural way
Deriving from the concept of Panchamahabhutas (five elements of nature) assimilated in our physical form, PM Modi urged students to reconnect with nature to freshen up one’s mind during stress.
The children also got to know from the Prime Minister that he used to take a dip in a lake in his younger days to relax.
Compete with yourself, not others
On the subject of tackling peer-pressure, PM Modi urged the students to compete with themselves and not others. Taking a cue from the sports arena, the Prime Minister said that it is always a risk to venture into your opponent’s arena because it is not one’s own area of strength.
In real life too, comparing oneself with others creates more stress. By focusing on one’s own strengths and bettering ourselves, each day, we can achieve a lot more.
Message for Parents and Teachers
PM Modi acknowledged the critical role parents play in their child’s life. While he reminded the children that parents always have the well-being of the child in mind, he also cautioned the parents to not make achievements of one’s child a social prestige issue and increase pressure on the child by trying to attain one’s own unfulfilled wishes through their children.
For teachers, too, he expressed his respect for their noble profession. However, taking a cue from his own life, urged the teachers to take a holistic interest in a child’s development beyond books and exams.
Balancing IQ and EQ for overall development
Through interesting anecdotes, PM Modi explained the importance of Intelligence Quotient (IQ) and Emotional Quotient (EQ) in students’ lives. He said risk taking ability and a sense of mission are derived from EQ and it is as critical to our personal growth as IQ.
Explaining the difference between EQ and IQ, PM Modi said that a three-month-old child emulates his mother, and that is IQ. When the mother tries to put this child to sleep by playing some melodious song, the child doesn’t sleep. When the mother, even if her singing is imperfect, sings a lullaby, the child sleeps promptly. This is EQ, he said.
PM Modi made an emotional appeal to the students, saying we should inquire about the people around us, who work for us like our drivers, domestic helpers about their lives and children. If we reach out to them, we will experience a remarkable change in our lives, helping us expand our EQ.
How to treat setbacks
PM Modi recalled how the Jana Sangh, the predecessor of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), lost all the seats in a Gujarat election. They had 103 candidates. Whoever wanted to fight was given a ticket.
Out of 103, the security deposit of 99 was forfeited. Four candidates managed to save their deposits. With their deposit money, they had a party and distributed sweets.
With this he stressed the need to keep the lightness intact in one’s life and enjoy the moment for what it is.
PM Modi faces board exams next year!
PM Modi concluded his interaction with the students by wishing them all the best for the board exams, but not before a youngster bowled him a googly.
PM Modi was asked if he was prepared to face his board exams (Lok Sabha elections) next year.
To this PM replied that if he was a teacher, he would have advised the student asking the question, to become a journalist, for he knew very well how to ask tricky questions in an innocuous way.
Almost as a fitting conclusion to the discussion, PM Modi told the children gathered there that just like their exam results, election results too were a by-product of consistent hard work, learning and growing. Since he put in the hard-work, he said that the wishes of more than a billion people were with him.