Professor Bhavaraju Sarveswara Rao

Charity Founders


      Professor Bhavaraju Sarveswara Rao, an Alumnus of the Andhra University, Visakhapatnam and the University of Cambridge breathed his last on the 23rd September 2010, at his home town Visakhapatnam, after a brief illness. He was 95. In the course of his long journey for nine decades (1915-2010) through chartered and unchartered paths of Academia, Research and Social Welfare, he lit up many new vistas and left us seeking the much needed eternal rest.


      Early days:  Born on 22nd Nov. 1915, at Peddapuram in East Godavary District, Prof Sarveswara Rao was a student of ULCM High School, Peddapuram and Government College of Arts at Rajahmundry.  His mother, Lakshmamma passed away when he was two, and his father, Parabrahma Murty passed away when he was 13.  His childhood was with his step mother, Janakamma, his mother’s younger sister. He had an elder sister Kameswaramma, brother-in-law Sri Krishna Murty and the elder brother Sri Satyanarayana. His elder sister had significant influence on his upbringing. Financial constraints always dogged him, at times he used to read under the street lights. She encouraged him to go to the university studies in spite of financial constraints. His sister’s support and scholarships helped his education.

     Higher Education:  After the Intermediate, he approached the then Vice Chancellor of the Andhra University, Sri Sarvepalli  Radhakrishnan for financial support. The response was a regret saying the university has no resources and the maximum it can provide is a half fee concession. He took M.A in Economics from the Andhra University Visakhapatnam, India(1936-39). Prof V.S.Krishna was his chief mentor. Prof Hiren Mukherjee, Prof V.K.R.V. Rao, Prof M.Venkata Rangiah and the rich traditions of the Andhra University inspired him.  He had offers from Stockholm and Cambridge for his higher studies. He chose the latter.  Prof. Rao was a British Council Fellow at St. John’s College, University of Cambridge (1950-53). Under the   guidance of Prof. Austin Robinson he wrote a thesis on India’s Balance of Payments for his Ph.D. 

   A Teacher & Researcher: He had a lifelong commitment to the city of Visakhapatnam and the Andhra University.  Started as a Research Fellow and Tutor in the department of Economics of Andhra University, he rose to be the Professor and head and later the Principal of the College of Arts, Commerce and Law of the Andhra University.  He was made the Professor Emeritus on his retirement 1975.  He later became the Vice Chancellor of Acharya Nagarjuna University (1979-81). Professor Sarveswara Rao was awarded Honorary D.Litt by the Andhra University (1979) and the Acharya Nagarjuna University (1991) in recognition and appreciation of his distinguished contribution to the advancement of learning and promotion of human values. Professor Rao was a Senator in the Andhra University, Advisor to the Government of Eastern Nigeria, Member of the Planning Board of the state of Andhra Pradesh, India. He was a member of the expert committee on Higher Education of the University Grants Commission of India that visited Universities in USA in 1958. He was an ardent advocate of Values and Ethics and strived for including these in the academic curricula. He was invited to lecture at the UN Institute of Development at Bangkok, when he was a Senior Economist in the UN’s Asian Institute for Economic Development and Planning. He and Prof. Rami Reddy were pioneers of open learning in India.  Prof. Rao was asked to head a team to design a foundation course in social sciences when the Indira Gandhi Open University was established in Delhi in 1986. He was a member of many committees on Higher Education, Planning and Development.

     Action Research:  Opportunities elsewhere never distracted him from his love for academics and welfare economics.  He gave a call for ‘Humanization of Economics’ at the Indian Economic Conference in 1982, when he was the President of the Indian Economic Association. He felt that any research which does not pay attention to human development and benefit is futile. He has sown the seeds of Action Research way ahead of his contemporaries.  He took to Action Research in his early days of work and continued it with much more zeal after his retirement from Andhra University in 1975.  As a young researcher he was very academic, analytical, and innovative. His early significant works were on the socio economic consequences of  Nagarjunasagar hydro electric irrigation project (1961), Farm Management studies in West Godavary District (1957-61), Rural Development and Water Resource Management.  The Seminars on Interdisciplinery Research Methodology on broad theme of Poverty (1974, ’75, and ’76) under the Madras Institute of Development Studies were unique.

    He brought experts of various disciplines together to study issues of the common man, especially with reference to Visakhapatnam and the neighboring areas. His studies on the impact of Environmental Challenges spread of slums and Urban Primary Health Care (1995) with the aid of the Oversees Development Administration, UK was acclaimed as the best model. Rural Development, Empowering Women, Literacy Programs, Water supply to Visakhapatnam and Consumer Movement were some of the issues which were dear to him.

       Institute Builder : The Institute of Development and Planning studies, was established in 1983 and took up studies in water management in lower Tandava River Basin, Farmer’s participation in irrigation tank renovation, technology upgradation of Handloom Weaving, Micro Credit for women development, Agro Forestry Programs for landless poor,( Oxfam, USA/ Delhi),  Performance of children in Non Formal Schools and the Socio economic status of the households  for children with the support of Indian Council for Social Science Research, to mention a few.

     Prof. Rao provided the vision and directed the Bhagavathula Charitable Trust and Mahila Vikas Samstha, two noteworthy charitable organizations from their inception. These organizations undertook wasteland development, social forestry, non-formal education, rural health services and training community organizers and women participation and empowerment. The Visakha Public Library Society, for which he was the founder President, adult literacy programs and the consumer society of Visakhapatnam were examples of the diversity of his pursuit.

      He reached the pinnacle in the field of education as the founder president of The Gayatri Vidya Parishad, a leading educational society and establishing various educational institutions with National Accreditation under its aegis.

       Eminent Citizen: In recognition of his service to the society, Sri Sadguru Sivananda Educational and Cultural Society, Bheemunipatnam has given him ‘The Eminent Citizen Award’ in year 2000.  He also received the Life Time achievement award given by the Andhra Pradesh Economics Association (1999). Among other awards are the Best Teacher award, and Raja Lakshmi Foundation Award on the   occasion of Sahasrachandra Darsanam.( seen 1000 full moons) (1998)

         Mrs. Venkata Ratnam: He was fortunate to have had Mrs. Venkata Ratnam as his life partner. She was the elder daughter of Dr Channapragada  Subba  Rao of Rajahmundry. Her child hood was in the company of stalwarts in freedom struggle and Gandhian Philosophy, who used to frequent her father’s house.  She was a typical example to illustrate that a formal education is not necessary for social, intellectual and cultural refinement or to mould a person’s character. The lack of higher education has not deprived her ability in any way to bring up the family. They have six sons, two daughters, eighteen grand children and twelve great grand children,

      Above all, the excellent support she gave to Prof. Rao’s Mission, is exemplary. Ably and silently she supported Prof. Rao in his endeavors. Thirteen year old when married (1936), she was a woman personified, to put it in a nut shell -  Karyeshu  Dasi,   Karaneshu Manthri……..  . Much like her husband, who was a Doyen of Welfare Economics, her prime concern was ‘abhyudaya’ welfare of the neighborhood. She was an ‘akkayya’ (elder sister) for the neighborhood.

       Bereavement in 1986 has not deterred Professor Rao to continue his research untill demise. Even at the advanced age when his body was unwilling to match his mind in action, he continued to inspire many of the individuals and institutions with which he was associated. He was the chief guest at the Platinum Jubilee celebrations of the Department of Economics of the Andhra University in the year 2008. He was the alumnus of this same department during 1936-39. Prof Rao was the guest of honor at the function to celebrate 20 years of Gayatri Vidya parishad  as recently as in January 2010.

     A Gandhian:   Professor Sarveswara Rao was a man with vision and untiring spirit with passion.   His concern for higher education and the welfare of the society is unparalleled. He belonged the generation that grew in parallel to the freedom movement of Mahatma Gandhi and was associated with development of modern India based on Gandhian principals. He was closely associated with Gandhi peace Foundation centre, Gandhi centenary celebrations and the Ba Bapu Sangham. He was not just an individual, but an institution. The void created by the loss of this iconic personality is unfathomable and irreplaceable.


     Prof BSR VR FOUNDATION`: His children and associates established the Professor Bhavaraju Sarveswara Rao and Venkata Ratnam Foundation, The foundation sets for itself as objective, to follow their ways of living as example, emulate them and follow the path set by this exemplary couple, to take up the tasks that were dear to them and to cherish the values set forth by them. The chief objective of the Foundation is to look into the societal issues in the fields of Education, Health and Research and to boost Action Research, by establishing Professor Sarveswara Rao Center for Action Research. The foundation also wishes to render help to the needy in the field of Education, Research and Health

                       “Change will not be sustainable Unless there is both Research and Action”                                                          

                                                                                                                 -Prof Sarveswara Rao

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