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Meet Noor Mohammad Ali of Assam, a newspaper hawker with a Ph.D

Meet Noor Mohammad Ali of Assam, a newspaper hawker with a Ph.D

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newspaper hawker with a Ph.D newspaper hawker with a Ph.D

For Noor Mohammad Ali, juggling between his profession (hawking newspapers) and his academics was always a necessity because of his family's poor financial condition. The 33-year-old from Dham Dhama in Nalbari -- who was recently awarded a doctorate degree in Arabic from the Gauhati University for his thesis entitled 'A Study on the Life and Work of Ibn Khaldun' -- has recently grabbed headlines for his story that exemplifies triumph over adversity.

The youth, who belongs to an economically backward background, was once ready to part ways with studies as his family "could not afford it", but benevolent professors proved to be a stroke of luck. Noor, who is the only newspaper hawker in his remote village, has now proven his grit by earning a Ph.D despite his busy schedule.

The second of four siblings, Noor visits neighbouring Nalbari town every single day to purchase the newspapers. "It's 16 km from my village to Nalbari town. I either take my motorbike or a bicycle. Thereafter, I distribute papers myself to around 120 households. I have a DTP shop -- Ali Noor Computer Offset Press -- where newspapers are also being sold," he told Inside Northeast.

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Although the COVID-19-induced Lockdown affected the news business, Ali's newspapers continued selling like hot cakes. "2-3 people withdrew subscriptions due to fears of COVID, but we got around 10 more new subscribers," he said.

The Front Page of the Ph.D

Asked how he juggled between his academics and his business, Noor said he has been able to hold the fort together due to encouragement from his family and well-wishers. "A few encouraging words from my mother and from my well-wishers have gone a long way towards helping me achieve all I have. My day usually begins at 4 am, and by the time I am done selling papers, it is evening. Therefore, I used to study at night after completion of all my chores for my Ph.D."

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The young Ph.D holder also credits his success to the professors at Gauhati University who helped him financially during crucial times. "At one point, I was about to give up. After giving my MA second semester examination, I had returned home because of financial constraints. However, when this reached the ears of my Head of Department -- Dr. Abdul Majid and his wife -- they let me stay at their house. I stayed there for two years and was finally able to clear the Masters'," he said, adding, "I have to give credit to all the professors -- including my supervisor -- for helping me reach this position."

Immediately after completing his Master's in Arabic, the newspaper hawker with a Ph.D returned to his hometown and got married. Then, he had to figure out how to eke out a living. "Initially, I had to take a few loans to start my newspaper hawking business. Fortunately, we already had a shop which was being run by my brother back then. Things slowly started falling into place and the newspaper business took off," he says.

My mother has been a solid rock throughout. Due to our poor economic position, she had to do odd chores to keep it together, but she always encouraged us

The biggest inspiration in his life, the newspaper hawker with a Ph.D said, is his mother. "My mother has been a solid rock throughout. Due to our poor economic condition, she had to do odd chores to keep it together, but she always encouraged us. When I was about to give up on my studies, she encouraged me to go back and pursue it."

Noor said that patriotism runs deep in him and is his primary driving force. "How can one do anything at all without love for one's nation?", he asked with a laugh. "My goal is -- and I know it will take a long time -- to take India to the world stage. I don't know how I will do it, but I consider that my purpose," he reveals.

By: Rana Pratap Saikia

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