For this nonagenarian, age is just a state of mind. Raj Kumar Vaishya (96) considers he is young enough to pursue his dream of 77 years and obtain a post graduate degree.
Vaishya, born in 1920 in Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh, has enrolled in MA (Economics) for the 2015-16 session in the Nalanda Open University at Patna.
“This has been my long-cherished dream to do my post-graduation in economics, which I could not do earlier because of family responsibilities,” a beaming Vaishya told the university officials who relaxed norms and visit Vaishya’s residence here on Tuesday to complete the admission process.
When the university officials handed him over the study material, he could not conceal his glee but he demanded its English version. “I have always been interested in economics,” he said. “I wanted to do MA in this subject only.”
The nonagenarian, who is staying with one of his sons in Patna, had last visited a college as a student more than 75 years ago.
Born on April 1, 1920, he passed matriculation from the Government High School, Bareilly in 1934 before doing his graduation from Agra University in 1938. He also did the Bachelor of Law (LLB) in 1940 but could not pursue the post-graduation course since he got the job as a law officer with the Christian Mica Industry at Koderma (now in Jharkhand).
Vaishya, father of three sons who have all retired from their respective jobs, retired from service as general manager in 1977 and returned to Bareilly. “But my dream to get an MA degree remained dormant inside my heart for 77 years,” he said.
After the death of his wife in 2003, he came to Patna to live with his one of his son. Six months ago, he expressed his desire to do an MA with his son and daughter-in-law. “When I told my son and daughter-in-law that it was my dream to do the post-graduate course, they said that I might face problems. But I reassured them that I would not face any difficulty,” he said.
Resolving to fulfil his wish, Vaishya’s son Prof Santosh Kumar, who has retired from the National Institute of Technology, Patna and his daughter-inlaw Prof Bharti S Kumar, who is a retired professor of Patna University, met NOU officials, who told them that he would be enrolled in the course in the current session. Not only that, they also decided to visit his house to provide him the identity card and course materials.
Dr SP Sinha, registrar of the university, who was part of the team, told Vaishya that he would have to come out of his house to take part in the examinations.
Sinha said Vaishya’s insatiable zeal to learn would inspire people and send out a positive message in society. “He has made history by becoming the oldest student ever at the university.
We will provide all assistance to any elderly person like him who would like to pursue higher studies from the university,” he said.