Two years short of scoring a century, Raj Kumar Vaishya has majored in economics to know why China suddenly devalued its currency, how to provide relief to people from rising prices and why the country has failed to solve problems like poverty and joblessness.
M I Khan from Patna tells his inspiring story.
'Aging is a matter of mind. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter'. You must have heard or read this quote several times, often attributed to Mark Twain, though its original source remains unknown.
But whoever coined the phrase would have had someone like 98-year-old Raj Kumar Vaishya in mind.
Vaishya -- who retired in 1980 as general manager of a mica firm in Koderma, Jharkhand, after serving for over three decades -- has just cleared his Masters in Economics from Nalanda Open University with 50 per cent marks.
Born in Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh, in 1920, Vaidya had to quit studies after completing his LLB in 1940 because of increasing family pressure to start earning a living. He had graduated from Agra University in 1938 and wanted to pursue his post-graduation.
"I have fulfilled my dream. I got the masters degree. I am really happy as it was not easy to make it," said a cheerful Vaishya.
Asked why he chose to study Economics, Vaishya said, "I wanted to study economics to understand why China has suddenly devalued its currency, how to provide relief to people from rising prices and why the country has failed to solve big problems like poverty and joblessness."
Vaishya is currently writing a book on how to reduce poverty, based on his experience. He now feels more confident about doing it after earning a degree in economics.
"With a masters degree in hand now, I will complete my book soon," Vaishya said.
S P Singh, an official of Patna-based NOU, said Vaidya set a record by clearing the MA exam at such an old age.
"It is a record in itself. At this old age, Raj Kumar Vaishya surprised all of us by passing the MA examination with 50 per cent marks," Singh said.
Earlier, perhaps the oldest NOU student was 84-year-old retired professor Ram Chandra Mishra Madhup, who registered himself for a PhD.
Other NOU officials said that it was a matter of pride for the university that a 98-year-old man has set an example for others to follow.
"We salute his zeal. He has become an inspiration for all. His achievement will send a positive message in society, particularly among senior citizens," Singh said.
Vaishya had enrolled in the course in 2015. According to varsity officials, Vaishya appeared in his first year and final year exams as a regular student.
Unlike most of his fellow students one fourth his age, Vaishya chose English as a medium of exams.
Vaishya, who always has a smile on his face, has been living with his son and daughter-in-law in an apartment in the posh Rajendra Nagar colony in Patna for the past 10 years.
When his wife passed away, Vaishya shifted to Patna from Bareilly.
Both his son and daughter-in-law are retirees. His son Santosh Kumar, in his early 70s, worked at the National Institute of Technology, Patna, while his daughter-in-law Bharti S Kumar, in her early 60s, retired as a professor from Patna University. Vaishya's younger son lives in Delhi after working abroad for several years.
Asked if his old age poses any health problems and hinder his studies, a confident and upbeat Vaishya said, "I can read without spectacle and write fluently in Hindi and English. I only use a walker to walk because a few years ago I suffered a fracture in my back. Apart from that, I don't have any persisting health problems. I am free from diabetes, high blood pressure and other age-related weaknesses."