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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 May, 2003, 13:41 GMT 14:41 UK
Indian man's 65 years as OAP

By Narayan Bareth
BBC correspondent in Jaipur

A man in the Indian state of Rajasthan has been collecting a pension for the past 65 years, it has emerged.

Habib Miyan has been drawing pension money since he retired in 1938, and says he is 132.

Habib Miyan
I have seen British rule and now an independent India
Habib Miyan

According to his pension book he is a mere 125. If correct, that makes the world's oldest living person 10 years his junior.

Without a birth certificate, Mr Miyan cannot prove his age, but he can claim to be the world's longest-registered old age pensioner.

Although fragile and bedridden, he insists he has no problem with his health.

Bank officials visit his home to hand over his pension.

"It is a matter of pride that our bank has such an elderly person as its customer," says Bank of India manager, Rajesh Nagpal.

"We requested him not to come to the bank for his pension."

Living through history

Habib Miyan lives in the Muslim neighbourhood of Jaipur, Rajasthan's capital, with 32 family members.

His first pension payment was 1.86 rupees but he now gets 1,900 rupees (about $40) a month.

If you take care of your body, your body will keep you fit
Habib Miyan

He used to be a clarinet player with the Jaipur state band and official records show him being born on 20 May, 1878.

He lost his vision 50 years ago and has limited mobility, but several incidents from the past are still fresh in his mind.

"I have witnessed the rule of four kings of Jaipur's royal family," he says.

"I have seen British rule and now an independent India." He remembers partition as "painful".

Look after yourself

Habib Miyan spends his time in prayer and dreams of going on a pilgrimage to Mecca, something his relatives say he cannot afford.

The secret of his long life lies in his dietary habits, he says.

"I follow a normal diet like eating bread but have never smoked or chewed tobacco." Drinking tea is his only addiction.

"If you take care of your body, your body will keep you fit," he says.

Relatives say they have never seen him upset or depressed.

The only thing that saddens Habib Miyan is that he has outlived his wife and three of his sons.

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