“Vijayawada is a historic city which played a key role in the Independence struggle of our country. We are fortunate that we belong to a centuries-old civilisation. Our family values are so tightly knit. We do not see this kind of bondage elsewhere,” said Rakesh Sharma, the first Indian to travel into space, on Thursday.
The first Indian cosmonaut was in the city to participate in the silver jubilee celebrations of Rakesh Public School at Chittinagar.
Referring to the recent achievement of the Vijayawada Municipal Corporation in construction of housing for the poor under JNNURM, he said it was good that the progress taking place here was being monitored by someone at the top-level. “I hope this city will continue to grow and become an important destination in the days to come,” he said amidst applause.
Mr. Sharma apologised to the audience for his late arrival and regretted his inability to speak in Telugu language. “Since Rakesh Public School is an English medium school, I hope the students can understand me,” he said. The school Principal N.V. Rao said that the institution was established in 1985 and named after the cosmonaut. “I desperately wanted him to inaugurate the school and tried in vain to contact him. Since the communication system was not so advanced those days, I could not reach him,” he said.
Explaining how he succeeded this time to forward an invitation, Mr. Rao said he wrote nearly 125-odd letters to various organisations and government departments for his contact details. “Finally, a response came from Assam and here we are, sitting with our hero amidst us,” said an elated Mr. Rao.
Vijayawada MP Lagadapati Rajagopal, Vijayawada Municipal Commissioner G. Ravi Babu, incharge Vice-Chancellor of Acharya Nagarjuna University and Krishna University, former MLA Ratna Kumari and others were present.