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A humble yet scholastic clerk with 40 degrees under his arm

By Abid Shah
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A humble yet scholastic clerk with 40 degrees under his arm

Seldom does one come across with someone who has such an extraordinary passion for learning as is the case with 56-year-old Suresh Kumar Shrichandani from Ajmer in Rajasthan.

Only last month he has cleared his MA examination in Rural Development from IGNOU, or Indira Gandhi National Open University. And with this he becomes entitled to his 40th degree though most of the earlier academic qualifications have also been fetched through distant learning programmes, or correspondence courses, that were followed by examination in each case.

Shrichandani opted for distant education because he happens to work as a translator to Hindi since an early age and quite a few years before now in a public sector insurance company at Ajmer. The city is also his ancestral hometown. His is, indeed, a remarkable story of a humble translator employed in clerk’s grade with lofty academic goals.

In its pursuit he has found his name to be included in Limica Book of Records way back in 1999 as in six postgraduate degree progarmmes between 1988 and 1997 he received a continuous, or sequential, series of marks that remained unbroken from lowly 34 to a first class 63 in one paper or the other.

The degrees or diplomas he holds are as diverse as to cut across as varied disciplines as language, literature, linguistics, sciences, yoga, music, commerce, sociology, education, management, law and journalism.

His resume has a longer list of degrees as compared to other details about him. Amid a great diversity of disciplines and subjects that embellish his academic attainments, Indology has somehow turned out to be of abiding interest to him. And it is this interest, as per him, that has made him to feel content with his lot.

Once he had cleared a competition to get a better paid job in Government’s Information Service but he never joined it as this could have caused distraction from his academic inclinations.

On another occasion he had cleared NET, or National Eligibility Test, for college lectureship but he did not like being confined to teaching just one subject all the time and give up his other pursuits that have been as dear to him as academics.

He has a passion for poetry. His Hindi verse is devoted to highlighting Indian culture, civilization, roots and ethos. He has brought out an anthology of his poems titled Bharat Bhartiyata Bharatiya Nayak. It took several years for him to pen down no less than 3000 small, or two-lined, verses that among other things are meant to pay tribute to quite a few historic figures.

The collection highlights India’s composite culture too. It eulogises and celebrates the great medieval era mystic Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti among others. Ajmer is famous since the town houses the great saint’s mausoleum which draws followers of the legendary Sufi saint from all over the country as also from abroad.

Shrichandani also loves singing. Light classical vocal music is another passion that comes naturally to him. A bachelor by choice he is actually wedded to the love of learning alone. With 40 degrees under his belt he aspires for more. His devotion to learning points among other things to a virtual revolution in the field of education that can easily enable anyone genuinely interested in trying to enhance his or her potential can get better qualified through distant learning.

The writer of these lines had a chance meeting with him during his one of the recent visits to Delhi when the scene in the Capital was getting rife with the electoral race. Somehow, he remains laconically aloof to it and says that he has to be focused towards his ideas of change through knowledge and understanding alone.

Asked about the reason behind his great motivation to earn so many degrees and yet look for more, he shots back by saying that he is not alone in aspiring for more since there are contemporaries spread over different parts of the country who have earned degrees even in hundreds. Behind all such passion, as per him, is the realisation that knowledge is actual asset and power.

Abid Shah is a freelance writer and journalist based in Delhi.