Expert town planner Ramchandra Gohad at the age of 76 spends most of his time poring over notes on town planning and development laws. Gohad plans to use his years of experience to write a thesis for his doctorate at the Savitribai Phule Pune Uni versity (SPPU).
Gohad is confident that his thesis could help abolish redundant laws that make town planning a nightmare for experts due to the series of permissions required from the government. He is among the 55 senior citizens in Pune who have taken admission to complete doctorate at the university this year.
After retirement, many choose to relax and spend time with family , but not these 55 senior citizens. They opted for the PhD programme with a firm that belief that it is never too late to learn.
"I have worked in the field of town planning for over 30 years," said Gohad.
"I have faced several hurdles that come in the way of an architect or a town planner while undertaking a project. Majority of these hurdles involve taking government permissions, which are sometimes unnecessary , but have to be taken as it is mentioned in the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act. If the Act is amended on the basis of current practices, it will save a lot of time and energy of the town planners. I am working on the thesis which can be a good reference document to make better policies."
In order to encourage se nior citizens to do PhD, the SPPU in 2013 had announced that people above 60 and those who have completed their postgraduation would be exempted from giving the entrance exam.
Uttam Chavan, assistant registrar and in-charge of admissions, said, "After the rule was introduced, the admissions in this category were not much. We received around one or two applications each year." The story is different this year. With proper publicity and awareness, the university received a record number of applications, he added.
Topics of interest of the applicants include literature, management, innovation, medicine and engineering.The oldest applicant is Gohad and most of the applicants are retired government employees.
"Going by the response, many senior citizens in the city see academics as a lifelong calling and they prefer to pursue their dreams instead of spending their post-retirement days doing nothing," said Chavan. Their motive for getting PhD is not to get a job, but for learning and turning their experience into a reference document, he said.
Sixty-three-year-old Vitthal Sathe, a former deputy registrar at the SPPU and one of the PhD aspirants, said, "Age is not a bar for learning. Age can have physical limitations, but never for the mind." Sathe has written and published 12 books and two plays. These days, he is busy visiting public and university libraries to collect information on social reformer Annabhau Sathe's writings. He is also taking help from his son. His research topic includes Sathe's literary works.