The Telegraph
Tuesday , September 4 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Age no bar for active senior citizens
- Work mantra for good life

I.C. Kumar writes books to remain young and healthy.

The former vice-chancellor of Veer Kunwar Singh University, Ara, retired in 1995. Since then, he has written more than a dozen books, including titles such as Baudhik Samaj Ki Chunautiyan and Gandhi Darshan Ki Prasangikta, which have sold thousands of copies. “Writing is my favourite hobby,” said the 76-year-old, who also jogs every morning to keep in shape.

But writing is not just a hobby for Kumar, the president of Bihar Pensioners’ Samaj since 1996. It is also an offshoot of his social commitment. “I have worked for 40 years. My experience taught me that I should contribute in some way to society. So, after retirement, I decided to employ my free time profitably and joined the Bihar Pensioners’ Samaj,” he said.

Kumar is not alone in his industriousness, though. Many senior citizens, including a former judge of Patna High Court, a former Chief Justice of Rajasthan High Court and the former director-general of police, utilise the free time and years of experience they have to help others by working in different social projects.

“Members of the Bihar Pensioners’ Samaj include dedicated retired people who want to do their bit for society,” said Kumar, adding that as a part of its current project the organisation would plant 1 lakh saplings all over the state in a year.

Kumar’s colleague at the Samaj and former chief engineer of the irrigation department, Ravi Shankar Sinha, has also worked relentlessly since his retirement in 1991.

Sinha guided a number of projects, like the construction of the four-storey building of Water and Land Management Institute, Walmi, Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences and Mahavir Cancer Sansthan. He joined the Samaj in 2000 and was appointed its general-secretary in 2006. Bihar Pensioners’ Bhavan — the office of the organisation — was also built under his supervision. “I had planned before my retirement that I would never sit idle at home. If people stop working altogether, they feel old. So, I decided to continue working,” said Sinha.

Describing his work at the organisation, he added: “There are around 4 lakh pensioners across Bihar. Our organisation has 300 branches. Maintaining the records of all the pensioners of the state is not an easy task.”

Asked what keeps him going, Sinha said: “My family has been my greatest strength. They have helped me take every decision.”

Fitness is also on the top of his list. “Everyday, I drink a glass of mattha (yogurt juice) — it helps me keep fit,” he said. “I don’t have blood pressure problems or diabetes.”

Like Kumar and Sinha, former Patna High Court judge Rajendra Prasad also dreamt of serving the society. His dream came true when he joined the state human rights commission after retirement in 2006.

“I have wanted to serve the society since my schooldays. So, when I got an opportunity to work for the human rights commission, I accepted the offer immediately,” said Prasad.

Asked about his fitness mantra, Prasad said: “Mental well-being is as important as physical vigour. I believe those who have an honest life are always fit. I am physically fit because I am mentally fit.”

Another believer in mental fitness is S.N. Jha, former chief justice of Rajasthan High Court and present chairperson of the Bihar Human Rights Commission. “I try to keep away from negative thoughts,” he told The Telegraph.

Since his retirement in 2007, he has devoted his time, experience and energy to the commission. “Some people retire at the correct age and others retire much before. Those who don’t work properly are as good as retired,” he said.

“In my last job, I gave my cent per cent. Here too, I am doing my best. Not everyone gets an opportunity to serve society. I was fortunate enough to get the responsibility.”

Another person who has willingly taken up the job of serving others is Neel Mani, the former director-general of police. He was offered a membership of the human rights commission after his retirement last year and took it up eagerly.

“People work to earn a living and take care of their families. How many of us work for others? I could not help taking it up when I was offered to be a member of the human rights commission” he said.

Work and social service are not the only occupation on his horizon though. Mani also indulges his love for classical music in his spare time.

“Pandit Jasraj is one of my favourite singers. I listen to his songs very often,” said Mani. While music soothes his soul, yoga in the morning and regular evening strolls at Eco Park take care of the health of the former top cop, who wants to continue serving the people for years to come.