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What is India Report

NRI donates $10 million
to build college in AP

Paila Malla Reddy had to contend with vested interests before his free college could take shape. For children of illiterate farm workers, college education is now a dream within reach, reports PRAKASH M SWAMY

What is India News Service
January 2, 2004 

NEW YORK: Paila Malla Reddy, chairman of the Bactolac Pharmaceuticals, Hauppauge, New York, has donated $10 Million to build and run a community college in his native Andhra Pradesh village.

It was a dream come true for Reddy. He was denied permission to start the college and was made to run from pillar to post for the past three years despite his willingness to donate the money to provide free education to the poor in Sunkishakala village in Valigonda district. This is the first junior
college offering free education to come up in the Mandal that comprises 29 villages.

The philanthropist-industrialist has already constructed a huge spiritual empire in the village consisting of four temples, a marriage hall, free lodging houses (choultries) and guesthouses on an 8-acre land at a cost of $22 Million. 

Reddy realized that taking care of the spiritual needs of the people would not be enough and decided to construct a junior college to offer free education for the children of illiterate farm laborers and workers. He pleaded with the then Chief Minister Nara Chandrababu Naidu several times but on questionable grounds permission was denied.

The reason was not far to seek. A local leader of the Telugu Desam Party of which Chandrababu Naidu is the leader, is running a capitation-fee college in the vicinity and he feared that if sanctioned, the free college would spoil his “business.” Chandrababu Naidu too had the interest of his party man over that of the poor villagers.

With the Congress government assuming office in Andhra Pradesh, Reddy approached Chief Minister Dr. Y.S. Rajashekhara Reddy who took less than a minute to accord the necessary sanction and issued a Government Order to that
effect.

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“How can the Andhra Pradesh government woo the rich Indians abroad, especially in the US if they are treated shabbily?” the chief minister wondered and asked Reddy to go ahead with the proposal to start Sri Venkateswara Junior College in a remote village of the state.


The chief minister had even instructed the Higher Education Department to look for and encourage philanthropists coming forward to extend assistance. In fact, the government itself will conduct a campaign among rich NRIs, the chief minister told Reddy in Hyderabad last
month.


This is the first junior college to be approved since the Congress took over the reins of the State. Malla Reddy, a trustee of the Sri Venkateswara Educational Society, offered to deposit Rs 50 lakh toward paying salaries, besides giving Rs 50 lakh for construction of buildings.


The college administration will be under government control right from the beginning and it will have to take up the burden of salaries from the sixth year. The college has started admitting students in the two-year intermediate courses in science, commerce, accounting, economics, math, and business management.


In an exclusive
interview to The Urban Indian, Reddy said the Trust had decided to rent a 7,000 square-foot building for the time being and the construction of the 20,000 square-foot college would be completed in nine months on a 6-acre land.


”We are planning to admit 500 students in the first academic year and train them to join engineering or medical colleges at the end of their course. Poverty should not come in the way of their higher studies. The Trust would provide scholarship for their higher studies including in the United States,” Reddy said. ”The college could become the turning point in the lives of many students.” 



The total staff strength will be 20 including 12 full-time qualified lecturers and a principal. Reddy will meet all the expenses in the running of the college including staff salaries. He will also provide hundreds of computers and set up computer labs with Internet facility in the college so that even the uninitiated could master the Information Technology. 

Prakash M Swamy, Ph.D (USA) is Editor-in-Chief, The Urban Indian newsweekly, The Empire State Building, 350 Fifth Avenue, #2612, New York.

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