This is an age of ac­com­plish­ments

Age doesn’t stop am­bi­tion.

Alive - - News - by T. Ra­jagopalan

What a won­der of won­ders! A nona­ge­nar­ian (93 years of age) Val­laba Josyula Sri­ra­mulu be­com­ing “World Cham­pion” in ath­let­ics! He was de­clared Ath­lete of Asia in 2016 in Aus­tralia. What an in­cred­i­ble ac­com­plish­ment by this man past 93 when even teenagers com­plain of myr­iad ail­ments. Win­ning the gold medal in three race walk events – 5 km, 10 km and 20 kms – this grand old ath­lete, a su­per­an­nu­ated naval com­man­der was de­clared “Ath­lete of Asia” 2016 at the 10 day event that came to a con­clu­sion on Novem­ber 2016 in Perth (Aus­tralia) bring­ing lau­rels to his coun­try of birth – In­dia.

There are in In­dia, a plethora of men and women of ad­vanc­ing age who can out­per­form even young­sters in the flood­tide of youth. A woman aged around 95 in Tamil Nadu per­formed unique ex­er­cises in­clud­ing yo­gasana, tak­ing the breath of on­look­ers away.

An in­ten­sive study in the Bri­tish Med­i­cal Jour­nal in­di­cates that our brains start func­tion­ing at an age of in­fancy and be­gins to de­te­ri­o­rate by the time of at­tain­ing the age of 45. Ex­am­in­ing the vo­cab­u­lary, com­pre­hen­sion and mem­o­ries of 7000,45 to 70 years old men and women, the re­searchers found a 3.6 per cent de­cline in the sec­ond half of their for­ties. But there abound ex­cep­tions. Oliver Cromwell who only stepped into the pub­lic realm in his late for­ties (he was born in 1599). He be­came the cre­ator of the most for­mi­da­ble army in Europe and took it to supreme suc­cess. There­after he changed to civil gov­ern­ment, be­came Lord Pro­tec­tor at the age of 53 where­after a highly suc­cess­ful ad­min­is­tra­tor in the an­nals of Eng­land un­til he breathed his last.

The his­tory of the United Stated is en­crusted with a host of such men and women. Se­nior Ge­orge Bush, who sired Ge­orge Bush

(both pres­i­dents of USA) is still healthily amongst us and at 85 could de­scend ef­fort­lessly in para­chutes.

Ge­orge Washington, born in 1732, had blos­somed into a highly suc­cess­ful gen­eral in his late for­ties and was 57 when he be­came the pres­i­dent.

There were strings of en­vi­able ac­com­plish­ments dur­ing his term. His

Farewell of a Septem­ber 1796 is a tes­ti­mony to his

mar­vel­lous achieve­ments that qual­i­fied him em­i­nently to be called a states­man par ex­cel­lence.

Abra­ham Lin­coln, the Pres­i­dent of USA, born in 1809 didn’t come to na­tional promi­nence un­til he crossed his for­ties and all his im­mense achieve­ments were made only in his fifties. Gen­eral Dwight Eisen­hower was 55 when he was supreme com­man­der of the D-Day in­va­sion of Europe. He was 62 when he be­came the US pres­i­dent and breathed his last on his birth­day, owing to car­diac ar­rest while per­form­ing his of­fi­cial du­ties.

Ron­ald Rea­gan who im­pres­sively made his progress in his 40s, fifties and six­ties be­came the pres­i­dent in his sev­en­ties. He be­came a well-known Hol­ly­wood hero ini­tially and was a dar­ling of the masses.

As re­gards the Bri­tish prime min­is­ters of the 19th and 20th cen­turies scores of them had made com­mend­able ac­com­plish­ments only com­par­a­tively late in life, some­times ab­nor­mally late. Lord Palmer­ston, born in 1784 held cab­i­net of­fice for a pro­tracted pe­riod and died in harness as an oc­to­ge­nar­ian. He didn’t oc­cupy 10 Down­ing Street un­til he was a sep­tu­a­ge­nar­ian. A fort­night be­fore his sad demise, he ac­com­pa­nied Queen Vic­to­ria to wit­ness a mil­i­tary re­view in Hyde Park. When she com­plained of the sweaty troops he replied: “Yes, Your Majesty, it’s known as es­pritde corps.” As he lay in bed about to breathe his last he said with a heavy voice, “Die my dear doc­tor? That’s the last thing I shall do.”

Glad­stone was prime min­is­ter four times, on the last oc­ca­sion when he was nearly 83. He was vir­tu­ally deaf and blind but that didn’t pre­clude him from com­bin­ing his prime min­is­te­rial du­ties with trans­lat­ing Homer and de­liv­er­ing lec­tures in Ox­ford with ut­most flu­ency.

Stan­ley Bald­win was born in 1867 and lived in ob­scu­rity for a long num­ber of years de­spite the fact he was an able MP. In 1922 when he was 55 he be­came a chan­cel­lor where af­ter he be­came the prime min­is­ter over the head of wrath­ful Lord Cur­zon who de­scribed him as a person of ut­most in­signif­i­cance. In­ci­den­tally, Lord Cur­zon be­came the Viceroy of In­dia and Cur­zon Road in Delhi is still there with apart­ments for gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials of top rank.

Lloyd Ge­orge was born in 1863 and be­came the prime min­is­ter in 1916 and func­tioned with amaz­ing en­ergy and en­thu­si­asm. Win­ston Churchill be­came the prime min­is­ter for the first time at the age of 65 and held the au­gust of­fice with supreme au­thor­ity for five years.

In In­dia also, Jawa­har­lal Nehru be­came the prime min­is­ter when he was past fifty and presided over the des­tiny of the na­tion for a pro­tracted num­ber of 14 years. He achieved myr­iad ac­com­plish­ments although he com­mit­ted a hand­ful of blun­ders that proved costly to In­dia. Late Bhim­rao Ambed­kar and a host of oth­ers who distin­guished them­selves as highly able min­is­ters and Chief Min­is­ter of states started their ca­reers quite late in In­dia. Sar­dar Val­lab­hai Pa­tel achieved in­te­gra­tion of 500-plus pricely states in In­dia when was past sixty.

Works of supreme dis­tinc­tion

Among the lead­ing com­posers, for ex­am­ple, Verdi and Wag­ner were both born in 1813. They wrote works of supreme dis­tinc­tion at all pe­ri­ods of their lives. Verdi was 74 when he wrote Otello, and 80 when he pro­duced Fal­staff. Wag­ner was past 60 when he com­posed. Got­ter­dammerung and even older when he com­posed Tris­tan und Isolde.

Beetho­van, the great mu­si­cal ge­nius was 53 when he wrote his great

Ninth Sym­phony. In

In­dia, Bala­mu­ra­likr­ishna, a mu­si­cal prodigy of mar­vel­lous stature who passed away as re­cently as in 2016 wrote and sang hun­dreds of songs till he ex­pired at the age of 86.

In the realm of paint­ing and sculp­ture Michelan­gelo of global renown was born in 1475 and worked un­ceas­ingly till his last breath in 1564.

When he started his Last Judge­ment in the Sis­tine Chapel he was 61. All his stu­pen­dous ar­chi­tec­ture was ac­com­plished in mid­dle age or later. He didn’t be­gin his work on St. Peter’s un­til he was 71.

In some in­stances, ma­tu­rity comes early and also de­parts not long af­ter. With some, the spark con­tin­ues to burn for very long. Isaac New­ton’s mon­u­men­tal work, Prin­cipia Math­e­mat­ica on which he had prodi­giously worked for a quar­ter cen­tury, was pub­lished when he was 45 years of age. Like­wise Ein­stein’s special the­ory and his gen­eral the­ory of rel­a­tiv­ity were con­ceived when he was com­par­a­tively young. Their minds didn’t de­te­ri­o­rate af­ter their su­perla­tive ac­com­plish­ments. In these cases their brains’ func­tion con­tin­ued and didn’t cease early.

Re­cently, a 85-year old Nepali sol­dier Min Ba­hadur Serchen is con­tem­plat­ing to reach Mt. Ever­est again. He con­quered this world’s high­est peak when he was 76-year-old.

Val­laba Josyula Sri­ra­mulu

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