Proving that age has no bar to follow one's dreams, 93-year-old CI Sivasubramanian received his masters' degree in public administration from Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) in New Delhi. At the convocation ceremony held at the varsity on Monday, February 17, Sivasubramanian was the oldest student.
"Family responsibilities kept me from pursuing my passion for studies, but at 87, finally, that opportunity knocked on my door," he told PTI.
"After finishing my school in the 1940s, I wanted to go to college but that meant either shifting to Trichy or Chennai. Meanwhile, both my parents fell ill and my relatives advised me against going because I had to take care of them. So, I got a job and started working," he said.
In the 1940s, when his family moved to Delhi, he got a job as a clerk in the Ministry of Commerce. After appearing for various departmental exams, he rose through the ranks in the years that followed. In 1986, he retired as a director from the ministry, at the age of 58.
"In fact, I was offered an opportunity to be part of a programme in the United Nations. But since I was not a graduate, I could not go," said the father of three daughters and a son.
While working at the ministry, he had enquired about various correspondence courses available at Delhi University. However, as he got transferred, he was unable to pursue them.
While he wanted to study after his retirement, family responsibilities and his wish to get the best education for his children held him back.
It was a matter of chance that led to him finally pursuing his dreams.
"One day, her physiotherapist said that he would leave a little early that day as he had to go to IGNOU to collect his form to apply for a course. I asked him to find out whether I could also apply," he said.
As the physiotherapist found out that there was no age barrier at IGNOU, he enrolled for the bachelors' course in public administration even though he told his children, "I do not know whether I will be alive long enough to complete it." After completing his graduation, he then enrolled for the master's degree.
For the past six years, Sivasubramanian would wake up at 5 in the morning and study. "I would study early in the morning so that I could keep time for other activities throughout the day. I am a sports enthusiast also and love watching sports," he said.
It was his daughter who would write his assignments as his handwriting became illegible with age. She was also his scribe during exams.
Presently, he is looking at other masters' courses and short-term courses that he can pursue.
"I wanted to pursue MPhil but then one of my daughters said, 'There are few seats in MPhil and if you enrol for it, you will snatch the seat of an eligible candidate.' I have asked them whether I can pursue another masters' course but I will see. Meanwhile, I have learnt that there are short-term courses offered by some websites, so I will probably choose one of them," he said.
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