Bhopal, Oct 20 (IANS) He may be the oldest man alive in India. If Parasram Gurjar's family tree is to be believed, he is a good 125 years old.
He is a resident of Talkesri village in Hoshangabad district, 70 km from here.
His family has no scientific proof of his age, but his 45-year-old grandson Hakam Singh Gurjar claimed that their 'vanshawali' or family tree mentioned Parasram's age as 22 years in 1908. According to that, he was born in 1886.
On World Elders' Day Oct 1 the Madhya Pradesh government conferred on the old man the Shatayu Samman. He was among eight people felicitated for attaining the age of more than 100 years.
'The medical Board of Madhya Pradesh has certified he is more than 90 years old. However, it could not provide a certificate for his age exceeding 90 years,' Hakam told IANS.
'We have written to union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad for making arrangements for verification of age of older people. Besides, we have applied to the Guinness World Records,' he said.
Parasram is an agriculturist by profession.
'He is perfectly healthy though he is a little hard of hearing. Except for being affected by pneumonia recently, he has never fallen ill. He has no ailments. He is physically capable and does most of his daily chores by himself,' Hakam said.
Parasram moves comfortably with the help of a stick and can eat just about everything. The day the IANS correspondent met him, he was eating kachoris with youngsters at Coffee House in Bhopal.
His only surviving son Mohanlal is now 75 years old. His three other sons and a younger daughter are no more. His family consists now of 14 grandchildren and three great grandchildren.
Assuming a date, on Aug 10 every year Parasram's birthday is celebrated by his family. He does not take old age pension from the government as he feels the amount is too meagre.
The self-claimed supercentenarian said about his longevity: 'Apart from a proper diet, the only thing that has kept me going is hard work. I am really saddened that today's generation is much weaker and is not hardworking.'
There may be a confusion regarding his actual age, but even now Parasram is clear on what he wishes to do.
'I want to have an organisation to make people aware and stop female foeticide,' he said.
(Shahnawaz Akhtar can be contacted at email@example.com)