Professor UR Rao told in a talk: When he took up his first job as a teacher in a college, his HOD advised, “when you go to class, take care of the students in the first bench. They are committed students, and will probably become your colleagues tomorrow. Beware of those in the back-benches. They will become union leaders and politicians – and your bosses one day. The rest do not matter.”
But those who occupy the front desks in classrooms of Karnataka have an opportunity and responsibility to rub shoulders with those in back benches. Karnataka is one of the six states in the country having legislative council (bicameral states) with 75 MLCs. Seven of these seats are from graduate constituencies and seven are from teachers’ constituencies. This gives a unique opportunity to the front benchers to occupy 19% of the seats in the council.
Teachers have their own representatives in the legislative council, some of whom would be ministers. Teachers can demand integrity and performance from their representatives and hold them accountable. They can question the representative about their contribution to education system of the state, which should be their primary focus. Other MLCs can focus on various other issues including garbage collection.
In the election process, teachers’ role need not be limited to enumeration and being booth officials. They have a unique privilege in the system to represent their professional community, not available to any other profession. This is an invitation to the teachers to make their political privilege meaningful by active participation.