By Parveen Chopra
A profile of catalysts of change in Andhra Pradesh
GURU OF LOVE
SATHYA SAI BABA
‘Love all, serve all’ is the simple yet profound message of Sathya Sai Baba, guru of millions around the world. Baba, as he is fondly called, is the greatest example of his own credo of selfless service, as is evident by his numerous charitable activities.
Media attention, though, has remained steadily focused on the many miracles Baba performs, such as manifesting objects out of thin air and teleportation. Devotees report vibhuti (sacred ash) collecting near his photographs and miraculous visions of him in times of need. Baba himeslf says that his only miracle is love.
He started performing miracles when he was 14, which was also when he declared himself to be a reincarnation of the popular saint, Sai Baba of Shirdi, who had died in 1918, eight years before Baba’s birth. Over the years, his fame as a realized master grew and he became something of a phenomenon, drawing people from all corners of the world to Prasanthi Nilayam, his ‘abode of peace’ in Puttaparthi, which was, before Baba ‘happened’ to it, a nondescript little hamlet in Andhra Pradesh.
Sathya Sai Baba speaks mostly in Telugu. His teachings are in the form of pithy, easily understandable statements like: ”Hands that help are holier than lips that pray,” and ”Make your life a rose that speaks silently in the language of the heart”.
The four principles he has laid down for his devotees are:
• There is only one religion: love.
• There is only one language: of the heart.
• There is only one caste: humanity.
• There is only one God.
To put into action his principles, the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust has set up charitable educational institutions, hospitals, even a drinking water project that has brought potable water to around 700 villages around Puttaparthi. Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, built in 1991, is a unique super-specialty hospital where free surgeries are performed.
In recent years, there have been several controversies around Sathya Sai Baba. From lurid tales of his alleged homosexuality to moves to discredit his miracles, Baba has maintained a dignified silence through it all, saying: ”Bear all and do nothing; hear all and say nothing; give all and take nothing; serve all and be nothing.”
DOYEN OF TELUGU CINEMA
DR A. NAGESHWARA RAO
Dr Akkineni Nageshwara Rao, one of the most versatile actors of Telugu cinema, was the first from south India to receive the prestigious Dada Saheb Phalke award in 1990. Much before he joined films,though, Nageshwara Rao had already attained fame as a ‘glamour queen’ on stage by playing much-acclaimed female roles in Harishchandra, Kanakatara and Bhakta Kuchela. In films too, it did not take long for Rao to make it to the top and eventually, he came to be called Nata Samrat (king among actors).
Nageshwara Rao has acted in over 250 films, including some in Tamil and Hindi. He has received many awards over the years such as the Padmashree and the Padmabhushan, the NTR National Film award from the Government of Andhra Pradesh and the All India Critics Award.
Dr Rao has served as a cultural ambassador to many countries. He is also engaged in charitable activities such as fundraising for soldiers injured in war and victims of natural calamities. A great champion of education, Rao has actively helped several educational institutions and established scholarships.
Nageshwara Rao established Annapurna Studios, which is now one of the most technically advanced film studios in the country in Hyderabad. It is spread over 22 acres and is said to be a filmmaker’s delight. Nageshwara Rao’s dynamic granddaughter, Supriya, is now managing the day-to-day activities of Annapurna Studios. Rao’s son, Nagarjuna, has also achieved considerable popularity both in Hindi and Telugu movies.
THE STEEL PEOPLE
THE NAGARJUNA GROUP
Kanumuri Venkata Krishna Raju quit his 17-year-old job with the Union Carbide at age 48 and decided to set up a steel factory. And Nagarjuna Steel Industry was born. He managed to fulfill his dream in 18 months, a rare achievement.
Before passing away, K.V.K. Raju went on to expand his enterprise to form a corporate conglomerate worth a few millions, with ventures in agricultural products like fertilisers, pesticides, micro-irrigation systems, and even finance and energy sectors.
Raju believes that the best way to serve the country is through rapid industrialization while maintaining ecological balance. This concern for the environment is reflected in the green areas that have been developed around his manufacturing plants.
KVK’s son, K.S. Raju has followed in his father’s footsteps and is now managing the Nagarjuna Group.
THE FACE OF SUCCESS
”Discipline, inspiration and perspiration,” is what media baron Ramoji Rao, attributes his success to. He is one of the most versatile, and hugely successful entrepreneurs in the country today and has to his credit a host of flourishing businesses, including Margadarsi Chit Fund, newspapers, ETV, Priya Foods, Ushakiron Movies and now, the awesome Ramoji Film City near Hyderabad.
Spread across 2,000 acres, the Ramoji Film City is the biggest of its kind in the world. Apart from filmmakers who are flocking to the Film City to avail of its state-of-the-art facilities, even from Hollywood, over a lakh tourists visit it every month. Its many attractions include exotic gardens, an entertainment centre where live stunt shows are enacted, and a ride that simulates space travel. The Film City where you can get ”everything from a pin to an aeroplane”, is Ramoji Rao’s biggest project till date and is being developed as the ‘Disneyland’ of India. He visualises it as the ”gateway of tourism in India”.
Ramoji Rao’s ever-expanding media empire includes the multilingual ETV Network channels, Mayuri film distributors and Ushakiron Television. The publications division, the oldest in the stable, includes popular Telugu newspaper Eenadu and English daily Newstime. Ushakiron Films has produced some blockbusters like Mayuri, Pratighatana and Sitara.
Ramoji Rao is able to handle his varied businesses because he believes in delegating authority and maintaining transparency in all his deals. And because he knows that there is no substitute for hard work. ”I set a goal and then go ahead with dogged determination till I’ve accomplished what I set out to achieve,” he said in a recent interview to the Financial Times, Hyderabad.
TYCOON WITH A HEART OF GOLD
Dr K. ANJI REDDY
Dr Kallam Anji Reddy, founder-chairman of Dr Reddy’s Group of Companies, is a pioneer in pharmaceutical research in the country. He was awarded the Padmashree this year in recognition of his landmark work.
Established in 1984, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories is now the fifth largest pharmaceutical company in India. Its meteoric rise has been due to its specialisation in inventing and implementing latest technology in the manufacture of bulk drugs.
R&D has always been high on Dr Reddy’s agenda and he set up Dr Reddy’s Research Foundation (DRF) as the research arm of Dr Reddy’s Laboratories in 1992. Till date, DRF has been awarded 21 patents for new drugs for curing cancer, diabetes and bacterial infections.
Dr Reddy’s sense of social responsibility is reflected in the innovative waste management schemes followed in his manufacturing units. Major steps have been taken to minimise waste generation and develop sustainable use of resources so as to maintain the ecological balance and preserve the environment.
Critically aware of his own responsibility to society, Reddy has set up the Dr Reddy’s Foundation for Human and Social Development to act as a catalyst in the management of change. Through this organisation, he has been encouraging cultural and educational projects in Andhra Pradesh. A unique venture has been a business programme, the first of its kind in Andhra Pradesh, in which Dr Reddy has promoted investments in entrepreneurship development through micro-finance. This programme has touched the lives of thousands of rural women and street children in the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad.
AN IT SUPERSTAR
B. RAMALINGA RAJU
Andhra Pradesh, thanks to the efforts of its techno-savvy CM Chandrababu Naidu,has been at the forefront of the IT revolution in the country. A leading light of the IT industry from the state is B. Ramalinga Raju, founder-chairman of Satyam Computers, with its headquarters in Hyderabad.
Satyam provides solutions to the global IT market and has an annual turnover of Rs 400 crore, with corporate houses in 20 countries, including about a hundred Fortune 500 companies, as its clients.
Born to a farmer, Ramalinga Raju started his career in the textile industry, from where he shifted to the real estate business. Although he entered the software industry after the initial boom, Raju speedily made it to the top because of his decision-making skills and willingness to take risks.
In a short span of 13 years, Raju has built an empire of over 4,000 employees with an annual profit of Rs 80 crore. With the recent launch of Satyam Infoway, Raju has entered the internet business in a big way.
In spite of his stupendous achievements, Raju prefers to keep a low profile. A true Hyderabadi with a yen for spicy food, he spends most of his leisure time with family and friends. But the man’s true passion is his dream to make India a global IT superpower.
SPORTSPERSON PAR EXCELLENCE
On March 11 this year, history was created when Hyderabad-based Pullela Gopichand won the All England Badminton Championships. He is the first Indian in 21 years to do so after Prakash Padukone. To reach the finals, Gopichand beat the reigning Olympic gold medallist and World Champion.
It is interesting to note that the man who has made India, and Hyderabad in particular, proud is humble enough to attribute his success to God’s grace, ”with a tinge of determination on my part”, Gopichand told Life Positive.
Moreover, Gopichand has been practising yoga, breathing and cleansing exercises and does the Surya Namaskar regularly. He has taken Sri Sri Ravishankar’s Art of Living course and has also visited the master in Bangalore.
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