Septuagenarian aims at getting doctorate

Septuagenarian aims at getting doctorate

Abdul Kadir Khan was mistaken for a teacher when he entered classroom during contact programme 

Senior citizens opt for various kinds of activities to spend the evening of their life. Some prefer to play with their grandchildren, some do gardening and many engage themselves in social work.

In some cases, people have turned writers, singers and painters after their retirement from service.

But Abdul Kadir Khan, a resident of Bhubaneswar, is different. He preferred to acquire more knowledge.  The 76-year-old man recently cleared his master’s degree in political science from the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) with flying colours.
 He secured a first division.

“Honestly speaking, I was not expecting 61 per cent.
 My intention was just to clear the examination by getting passing marks. I did not appear for the examinations to get a job,” said the septuagenarian with a smile. A native of coastal Nayagarh district, Khan had a passion for higher education right from his childhood. But luck did not favour him. When he was about to join a college after completing his higher secondary education, tragedy struck as his mother passed away.

He had to abandon his dream temporarily as he had a responsibility to shoulder-- take care of his two siblings, who were infants at that time. Relatives put pressure on his father to get married again as a woman was needed to run the family, particularly with two small children.
 As his father refused, rel­atives forced Abdul Kadir Khan to marry and he wedded when he was hardly 20.  Pursues dream
The marriage did not stop him from pursuing his dream of studying.

He continued studies as a non-regular student.
 After completing graduation, he took LLB degree as a private student. 

By then, he already had a government job in a local court in Nayagarh town, now the headquarters of Nayagarh district (at that time Nayagarh was part of undivided Puri district) as a stenographer.

“Though I was keen to become a teacher, circumstances forced me to take up the stenographer’s job.

At that time it was not at all difficult to get a government job,” he said.

As he successfully completed departmental examinations, he was given the job of a translator in the law department of the government of Odisha in the state secretariat in Bhubaneswar.

He retired as an under secretary in the same department.

He decided to continue his studies because of a turmoil in the family. His daughter’s marriage was on the rocks and he had to put in his best efforts to find an amicable solution.

To unwind mind

He was tense and stressed out with the developments.
 “I needed something to free and unwind my mind. My childhood interest to go for higher education came to my rescue and I enrolled myself to do a master’s degree in political science from IGNOU,” he said. 

Recalling his first day at IGNOU contact classes, Khan said he had an interesting encounter with the other students, who were of his grandchildren’s age.
 “One girl thought I was a teacher and greeted me as soon as I entered the classroom. All of them were baffled when I told them that I am also a student like them. It was certainly an embarrassing moment. But, gradually I overcame that feeling. It took just a few days for other students to treat me as one among them,” said the education enthusiast. 

He also had to toil hard to complete the IGNOU course, which is considered tough compared to courses in other regular universities, and to clear examinations.

“I was studying daily for two hours. I was putting a few extra hours, mostly late in the night, just before the examinations,” he said, adding that his children had encouraged him when he decided to go for his master’s degree in the twilight of his life.

A master’s degree has not ended the septuagenarian’s quest for higher education. He now intends to do PhD.
 “I am keen to do a PhD now and get a doctorate degree. But, the opportunities are very limited. However, I am still trying to find a way to fulfill my desire,” Khan said.

His other interests include translation of books. He and another friend  have already translated a few books on Islam from Urdu to Odia as well as English to Odia.

“Many Muslims in Odisha can read only Odia. These translated books will be a great help for them”, he said.  Khan has a piece of advice for people of his age group who shy away from acquiring knowledge. 

“Everybody should remember that age is no bar for acquiring knowledge. I encourage elderly people as well as youngsters not to hesitate to acquire knowledge whenever opportunity comes. Nothing can replace knowledge in one’s life,” he maintained. 


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