Phd at 80: If you have a passion for learning, age is never a hindrance, says Pune’s oldest scholar Mehta
Mumbai-based octogenarian, Vikram Mehta, resident of Malabar hills has become the oldest PhD student at the Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) to have completed his second post-doctorate, at the age of 80.
A dedicated pupil, as according to his PhD guide C N Rawal, Mehta has been associated with the varsity for the past 63 years, having completed his bachelors in commerce in 1955 and masters in commerce in 1961.
While his first PhD, ‘Principle and Practises in Engineering Industries in Mumbai and Pune’ was completed in October 1982, his second PhD was on the topic, ‘Administrative problems of Trusts managing healthcare sector in Gujarat’ which he completed on September 9 2018.
“He has always had an academic outlook which the entire family supported.We all are very proud of him,” said his wife, Nalini Mehta (73).
According to him, one of the biggest challenges in the process was not his age, but the inability to find a guide. “In most cases the age gap between me and the guide would scale over 25 years and hence they were reluctant to take my study up. Eventually I was lucky enough to find CN Rawal as my guide,” said Mehta.
Rawal who is also the director of Brihan Maharashtra College of Commerce (BMCC) added that the process of learning was both ways. “I was often humbled with his vast knowledge and experience in the subject. Although I was the guide, I learnt a lot from him. Most importantly, unlike many other research scholars who often do not heavily consider suggestions from the guides, he was always attentive, hardworking and fully dedicated,” said Rawal.
Speaking about his feat at this age, Mehta said to Hindustan Times, “If you have a passion for learning, age is never a hinderance. Learning is a continuous process irrespective of age, time or year.” Born in 1938 in Palanpur, Gujarat, Mehta has been associated with several trusts in the healthcare and education sector.
In addition to being connected to the Ilaba cancer hospital at Navsari, Mehta is also the president of GD Modi college complex in Palanpur and a trustee of Pethani blood bank and Vidya Mandir trust, Palanpur. He added that his association with the hospitals helped his research in terms of data collection.
Over the years, he has propagated the need for higher education. “Both my children, studied commerce, but did not study further. My grandchildren however are now studying in top US colleges like the Columbia University,” said Mehta.
In encouragement, Nitin Karmalkar ,vice-chancellor of Pune University said, “The best of research always come out of such exemplary dedication. I am very happy and extremely proud that such a gem of a scholar graduated from our university.”