Only 100-year-young for research degree- Oldest student at GU
Guwahati, Oct. 18: Einstein once said knowledge exists in two forms — lifeless, stored in books, and alive, in the consciousness of men. The second form of existence is, after all, the essential one.
At 100, Bholaram Das, a former Cottonian and freedom fighter, who is going all out to complete his PhD falls in the second group.
Living a century is itself a dream and still pursuing a higher degree could be a miracle for many in the country.
“His memory is still active. I think in all probability he will be able to complete his research,” Dipak Kumar Sharma, his guide at department of Sanskrit of Gauhati University, told The Telegraph.
On Saturday during a function at Cotton College when Gauhati University vice-chancellor O.K. Medhi announced that Bholaram Das was pursuing PhD, many felt that age was no bar for knowledge.
Das with a Gandhi cap was given a standing ovation at the function.
In fact, Das is the oldest student at Gauhati University pursuing PhD and could be the oldest in the country.
At the function, Das spoke on his life and the various influences. He admitted that his health was failing and he did not know whether he would be able to complete his research. However, his family said he was mentally strong. “I am not sure whether I will able to complete my PhD on time as my health is failing, but my mind is not,” he added.
Das passed his HSLC in 1933 with first division and graduated from Cotton College in 1937 and cleared MA and bachelor of law from Calcutta University in 1940 and 1941. He retired as a district and sessions judge from Gauhati High Court in 1971.
His research topic is role and contribution of Bohori village of Barpeta district in spreading the neo-Vaishnavite way of life in north-eastern part of India. He has also written three articles in his life.
Das was born at Bohori village in Barpeta district. “It is generally the students who call their guides ‘Sir’ but in this case I call him ‘Sir’.”
He registered as a PhD student in 2008 at the age of 98.
“Many had raised objection at that time on a 98-year-old person wanting to do PhD, but vice-chancellor Medhi took a positive stand and gave a go ahead,” Sharma said.
Cotton College principal I.K. Bhattacharya said being a holiday the college could not honour him in a befitting way and wished him for successful completion of his PhD.
The former president of Asom Sahitya Sabha, Kana-ksen Deka, said Das was a perfect role model for the young.
Assam Governor J.B. Patnaik said Das is 100 and still not out. “He has lived a full life and there are very few people living at 100,” he said.
One of his sons, Bhupati Das, chairman and managing director of Numaligarh Refinery Limited, said his father is an eternal optimist with a never-say-die spirit.
His latest fascination is learning the violin, his grandson, Abhinab, said.