Children have a date with President Patil

November 14th, 2008 - 3:27 pm ICT by IANS  

Pratibha PatilNew Delhi, Nov 14 (IANS) On Children’s Day Friday, President Pratibha Patil played host to over 100 boisterous children aged two to 17 years at her residence here, stressing that girls needed to be educated as much as boys. Children from not only the national capital region but also Arunachal Pradesh and Tibetan refugee schools joined the president at Ashoka Hall in Rashtrapati Bhavan for the brief function.

Patil addressed the exuberant lot by first paying respects to Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of India whose birthday is celebrated as Children’s Day.

“The great leaders of the country in the past have emphasised the role of children. Jawaharlal Nehruji said if you educate a boy - it’s just an individual that learns, but if you educate a girl the whole household learns - this empowers them as Indians,” Patil, the country’s first woman president, told the gathering.

After the brief speech, in which she attempted to inform the children about “the diversity of our cultures within India” and “the unifying role of patriotism”, Patil submitted to what the gathering most eagerly awaited - photo ops.

She was impressed the most with the younger lot, many of whom sported fancy dress costumes.

Sane, a six-year-old boy from Oasis school, Haryana was dressed as Nehru - in a cap and a waistcoat with a red rose. Initially cranky, the child’s spirits lifted when Patil appreciatively patted him.

Some other students left the dais after the photo-session, not too happy.

“I wanted an autograph but she didn’t give it,” a child from DAV School said.

Another group of students seemed disappointed as well.

“We had hoped for more interaction time, she just exchanged a few pleasantries,” said a group of boys from Hindu Vidya Peeth.

A group of 20 street kids accompanied by NGO workers also attended the function. The children were bowled over by the sight up the lavishly done up walls and rooms at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

One of them, Raju, an eight-year-old who is preparing to enter school in the coming year, declared: “The president is the leader of the country - she said nice things to us, asked if we went to school.”

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