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PASSION, NOT PROS THAT REACHED HIM TO THE TOP

His story belongs to that genre which never fails to entice people because it contains all the ingredients needed to make a inspiring narration- penury, protracted struggle against odds & eventual victory. Prof.G.Nageswara Rao, Vice-Chancellor, Andhra University proved once again that people can achieve extraordinary success surmounting even dismal circumstances, if they have the determination, courage of conviction, guts and gumption and don’t shy away from hard work. His success sits pretty on his unassuming shoulders. Out of his hectic schedule he carves out time for a leisurely interview. Looking as fresh as if he has just began the day and with a welcoming smile, he settles down for a late evening interview. Articulation is anyway expected of professional teachers, but Prof.Rao has that extra edge-a sense of humour, which makes the conversation smooth and absolutely delightful.

EXCERPTS
Down the Memory Lane
I come from a very poor family. My parents- the late Mr.Narasaiah and Mrs.Anasuya, used to work as farm hands in Gurazala village in Guntur dist. As the eldest of four siblings and due to beleaguered finances, I was under the constant threat of being taken out of school. It was obviously tough for the family, which is barely making two ends meet, to educate a son. Not only my parents, but also my siblings had to work hard to get me educated. I studied till 10th standard in Rentachintala.
I did my 10+2 and obtained my B.Sc degree from S.K.B.R.Govt. College, Macherla. My teachers goaded my parents and even fought with them, to get me back to school. I feel eternally grateful to all of them.

Ignorance Was No Bliss
I was so ignorant & unexposed that I went & sat in the same class even after passing out. Our village school ran classes only up to 5th standard. My teachers had to explain me that there was something called high school and I should move there. My parents then shifted me to my maternal uncle’s house for high school studies.

Date of Birth
I had no clue which year I was born. The headmaster, who admitted me to the 6th standard, roughly gauged my age and fixed 4th Sept 1957, the day I joined his school, as my date of birth. I studied under lantern light till my 10th standard as our village did not have power supply. I saw my classmates filling some application form and found out that they were applying for EAMCET. Goaded by friends & to see Vijayawada, I wrote EAMCET. I got a seat in JNTU, Kakinada, but had to settle for B.Sc. Though my journey was always fraught with uncertainties, I crossed each step with great diligence and reached Andhra University (AU) for post-graduation studies.



Many Misses & Stints
Excelling in NCC and NSS courses, I was selected for Infantry. This time it was my mother’s apprehensions that came in the way. I got many lucrative offers from prestigious organisations like BVK College, CCMB, Hyderabad, ONGC, Dehradun, IISC, Bengaluru, and Durban, South Africa. Some I took up for a short duration and some I rejected outright. AU always tugged at my heart and kept returning. I completed my doctorate in 3 years, after which I was appointed as an Assistant Professor.

Tough Decisions
All my decisions were taken at my own free will & they turned out to be the best. In 2000, I got Best Researcher Award. On the convocation day, the principal offered me Assistant Principal’s post of AU College of Science and Technology. I could not say no despite my reluctance to forego my research time.

Juggling Roles
I would start working from 8.00 am and never knew when the day ended. I could manage teaching, research and even administration.

No Fall in Standards
I have no complaints. We must admit that there is a sea change in learning environs because of the technological advances. When we were studying, there were very limited extra-curricular activities, no smart phones, tablets, computers, etc. Our time used to be spent either on studies or playing a few games or meeting friends. Now, students are exposed to a plethora of activities which smoothen the rough edges in their persona and enrich their intellect.

Changing Scenario
Earlier, students used to think of career only after the completion of education. But now students mull over career even as they pursue studies. Our government too encourages the students to take a break and float a start-up. Even the high school boys are developing apps. Students are doing well despite all those activities, which I refuse to call distractions. I have a word of praise for our teachers, who are dedicated and are doing such an amazing job. I don’t believe in making random and generalised remarks.

Quota System
Why not? These sections were exploited and neglected for centuries. Why grudge them a few privileges? Are students coming from affluent and forward communities, doing spectacular work? There are substandard students in those categories too. Hence, the performance has nothing to do with his background. Take my own case. With parents who were farm hands, could I ever imagine myself earning a doctoral degree or being the Vice-Chancellor of such a prestigious institution?

As the Vice-Chancellor
It is a great honour to be occupying the seat in which stalwarts like Dr.Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan sat. I must recall here that I did not even think of applying for the post as neither did I have the money power nor any godfathers. Of course, that I would not have used such props is a different thing.

Ethics and Principles
When I was serving as the chief warden of the hostel, some boys from student union came to me seeking money to organise an event. I told them, “I earn only Rs.1,000 extra as a chief warden and some salary for my teaching. I cannot afford to give you a paisa. Then they asked me to spare money from the hostel funds and I retorted, “That is the student’s money and not mine. Please take it from them.”

AU Condition
Yes, we are going through a rough patch and need humongous funds to run an institute which is sprawled over 500 acres. The government used to allocate Rs.80-100 cr per annum which was not sufficient even to pay the salaries and pensions. But now it is much better as the block grant has been increased many fold. So, how do we build a new infrastructure and maintain the existing one? This year, state has sanctioned Rs.300 cr as block grant. We generate some funds from students fees. The buildings are old and require at least Rs.10 cr per annum to keep them fit.

Competition
I take a positive view of this too. The government is encouraging private universities, giving them sops. This is done purely to encourage a healthy competition among the campuses. People often become complacent in the absence of competition. Teachers may relax and students may take it easy. Now they have to work hard - perform or perish. They have to take up challenges and new research.

Future
I would like to paraphrase a professor here, “AU is so sacred that nobody can spoil its reputation. We, V-Cs, students and faculty may come and go, but the image of AU shines on forever.” It commands respect not only in the country but across the globe. Check out our alumni, who have brought name and fame to the varsity. My heart swells with pride when I remember that our Vice-President Mr.M.Venkaiah Naidu, passed through our portals.

Students & Politics
Look at the profile of today’s political leaders. Many of them are doctors, educationists, lawyers & bureaucrats. Many highly qualified people are entering the political arena changing the texture of the field. So it is good if students are well versed with politics. I again cite Mr.Venkaiah Naidu and Dr.Hari Babu, people of high caliber who are making all difference in the political world. They were student leaders and led many campaigns and they were even jailed during emergency. So, universities can create great political leaders too.
I see some of them as future Presidents, Vice-Presidents and Prime Ministers.

BOOKS PUBLISHED

  • Computer Applications in Chemistry, Himalaya Publishing House, Mumbai (2005)
  • Editor, Green Chemistry: Contributions to the Environmental Sustainability, Paramout Publishing House, New Delhi (2015)
  • Study material for Acharya Nagarjuna University, Guntur
  • Study material for Andhra University, Visakhapatnam
  • Study material for Dr. B. R. Ambedkar Open University, Hyderabad

FAVOURITES
Colour: White
Car: Maruti
Destination: My workplace
Food: Everything.
I enjoy both veg and non-veg fare.
Books: Chemistry
Hangout: My home
Actor : ANR

QUICK-BITES
Success mantra
Hard work.
Secret of your energy
I enjoy what I do.
Idol
All my teachers who stood by me.
Hobbies
Work, work and work.
Advice to students
Put your heart and soul in it and you are bound to become a leader.
to teachers...
Stand by their students.
What makes you happy?
Teaching & interacting with students. Helping people within the frame work of rules and regulations.
sad...
I wish my parents could see where
I am today.
angry...
Recommendations. I don’t seek favour even for my wife or get her transferred to a school that is located closer. She goes to Bheemili for work
Unfulfilled dream
I am happy and satisfied with
what I am doing.

AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS

  • Fellow of A.P. Akademi of Sciences (2016)
  • A.P. State Teacher Award (2014)• Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan Award-Best Academician by Andhra University (2008)
  • Post-doctoral Research Fellow from Univ. of Durban (1998-99)
  • Biotechnology National Associate from IISc., Bengaluru (1990-91)
  • Merit certificate for paper presentation (Convention of Chemists in 1985)
  • Peer Reviewer to National Program for Technology Enhancement Learning Course in Chemistry by IIT, Kanpur
  • Member, Expert Committee for assessment of major research projects of the University Grants Commission, New Delhi
  • Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Modern Medicinal Chemistry
  • Associate Editor, Journal of Advanced Sciences
  • Editor, World Journal of Analytical Chemistry
  • Editor, International Journal of Applied and Natural Sciences
  • Editorial Board Member, GRD Journals
  • Editorial Board member, International Research Journal of Agricultural and Food Sciences



FAMILY CORNER
I FELL IN LOVE WITH HIS HUMOUR: VIJAYA KUMARI, WIFE
I hail from Guntur, studied B.Sc in Tenali and B.Ed from St.Jospeh’s Convent in Guntur. Soon after, I got a job as a teacher in a government school. I put in four years of service by the time we got married and I took transfer to Vizag. I studied M.A (English) and M.Ed from AU. Right now, I am serving as a teacher in Zilla Parishad High School near Bheemili. Though we have a lot to exchange at the end of the day, neither he interferes with my work nor do I with his. We are proud parents of two beautiful daughters- Archana and Navya. Both are married and settled in Hyderabad. Archana studied B.Tech (Chemical Engineering) & Navya B.Tech (Instrumentation) from AU. Archana is blessed with two sons and Navya with one. He is never strict with the girls. That leaves me to keep the leash tight on all of them. He is a very doting father, good husband and a jovial person. He takes out time for us despite his busy schedule.

HE IS MY BEST FRIEND: NAVYA, DAUGHTER
He used to guide us, while our mother used to wield the cane. He is more a friend, who sings lullabies for us even now. I had to wake up early in the morning for my CAT coaching. He would be up even before me, boil milk for me, letting mother rest. He proved that a man should also attend to household chores, not just the woman. Without holding our finger, he let us be independent. When I joined my first job in Hyderabad, he urged me to go ahead and face the world. He said, “You know what your goal is. So, work towards it. Do something with your life.” He was never bothered about the marks we scored but told us to understand what we studied. He is highly principled and never flouts rules. This is what I want to emulate.

HE IS WORTH EMULATING: ARCHANA, DAUGHTER
He has worked very hard to reach this position. He is very disciplined and punctual but is never strict with us. We were given all the freedom in the world. Yet, we left the decision to choose our life partners with our parents as we believe they knew the best. I am a national throw ball player. I had to go for tournaments taking time off my studies. I was in a dilemma on how to manage both studies and sports. But he always encouraged me to go for it, without fretting over study hours.

 
 
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