| Bijay Kumar Sharma takes a ride on the NIT-Patna campus on Tuesday. Picture by Ranjeet Kumar Dey |
Bijay Kumar Sharma, emeritus fellow at the National Institute of Technology (NIT), can give any youth a tough fight on the two wheels of his bicycle.
At 68 years old, he is a sexagenarian with a difference. He draws a five-digit pension every month and owns three four-wheelers but prefers his bicycle to any other mode of transport. His motivations are environment and fitness.
Since his retirement three years ago, Sharma has taken up cycling with a renewed vigour. As an emeritus fellow, he rides 3km from home to the institute every day. He claimed although he has tried to encourage others to follow in his footsteps, nothing else than admiration has come his way.
“I stopped using four-wheelers for two reasons — environmental pollution and my own fitness. Cycling keeps you fit and helps cut down on pollution. All the other male members in the family — my son, brother and nephew — have diabetes but not me,” said Sharma, the former head of department, electronics and communication engineering department, NIT-Patna.
Riding bicycle to campus is nothing new for Sharma. As a master’s student in Stanford University in 1969-70, too, he used his bicycle to attend classes. He wasn’t alone. Taking bicycles to campus is a common practice followed by faculty members and students alike in the US universities.
Sharma, who NIT-Patna director Asok De called a “role model for all of us”, added: “I tell everybody, including my colleagues and family members, to use bicycles instead of their two- and four-wheelers or at least public transport. But I don’t think I have been able to change the mindset of anyone. They appreciate me for what I do but are reluctant to do the same.”
Ashish Ranjan Sinha, head of department, humanities and social sciences, NIT-Patna, told The Telegraph: “He also rides in his village Maniari in Muzaffarpur district, around 80km north of Patna. He takes the train to Muzaffarpur where he has one bicycle stationed at the railway station. He takes it home around 10km away.
“He also participates in the cycling competition on the institution’s foundation day (January 28). On several occasions, he has beaten the students to the first or second position,” he added.
Sharma, who has taught at IIT-Kharagpur among other premier Indian institutions, said the last time he participated in the competition was 2010. He came fifth.