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Updated: September 19, 2012 08:48 IST

The scientist who promoted self-reliance

Staff Reporter
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Dr. A. S. Rao.
The Hindu
Dr. A. S. Rao.

Remember ECTV? The colour television was among the first hi-tech electronic equipments to be manufactured indigenously. The engineers behind the television were inspired by the clarion call of ‘self-reliance’, given by late founder and MD of Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL), Dr. Ayyagari Sambasiva Rao, popularly known as Dr. A. S. Rao.

And, as scores of admirers come together to celebrate his birth anniversary on September 20, his mantra of ‘Self-Reliance’ will surely continue to echo among them. The master’s degree holder in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University was also a believer in sharing the fruits of technology.

Perhaps, that’s why the television technology of ECIL was given to all State Electronic Corporations in the country. For such reasons, to this day, the true blue proponent of self-reliance is still revered by the ECIL employees and scientists.

The influence and veneration for Dr. A. S. Rao is there for everybody to see. The authorities have put up a huge statue of its founder right in front of ECIL. In fact, the entire colony has been named as Dr. A.S. Rao Nagar. Some of his ardent admirers got together to form Dr. A.S. Rao Awards Council, which encourages young talent.

“He strongly believed that Indians can build products of world class quality. He had faith in the ability of his colleagues and inspired them to improve academically by taking up higher advanced degrees. He allowed everybody to develop and that’s why he is revered today,” explains M. V. R. Rao, who was the chairman for Dr. A. S. Rao Awards Council for a decade.

The ECIL employees still swear by Dr. A. S. Rao’s humility. “When he retired, they offered him a company car, but he promptly declined. After his retirement, there were occasions when he used to travel with us in RTC bus to ECIL. People respect him because he took care of us,” recalls G. Yadagiri Rao, president, ECIL Staff and Workers Union.

Senior scientists who interacted with him said that Dr. A. S. Rao’s humble beginnings were the reasons for his humility. Dr. A. S. Rao came from an average income family and struggled to pay fee for education. After schooling in his native West Godavari district, he completed M.Sc in physics from Banaras Hindu University. Later, Dr. Rao received the Tata scholarship to do master’s from Stanford University.

According to accounts, Dr. A. S. Rao chose to come back to India despite offers from Stanford. Several maintain that Dr. A.S. Rao’s role in indigenously designing the control systems of the first Indian nuclear reactor, Apsara brought him recognition.

“Dr. Homi J Bhaba recognised his talent and sent him to Hyderabad with 200 technicians to set up ECIL. First, they started ECIL at Sanathnagar and later shifted to the present location. The ECIL family now has swelled to 6,000,” says Dr. Rao. The revered scientist died on October 31, 2003.

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