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Educationist par excellence

During his student days at Cambridge, Cattamanchi Ramalinga Reddy surprised his teachers with his oratorical skills. The students were given tutorials on various topics and asked to read out their prepared notes. When his turn came, Reddy spoke for more than 45 minutes and the professor, who looked for his notes was astonished to find that it was all extempore.

Born in the village of Cattamanchi in Chittoor district on December 10, 1880, he had a brilliant academic career at the Madras Christian College, whereafter he proceeded to England on a Government of India scholarship. He joined St. John's College, Cambridge. But for a brief stint as a politician between 1920 and 1926 and again from 1931 to 1936, he was an academician all his life. He was a great scholar in Economics, Education and English and Telugu literature. He wrote two volumes of Arthasastra in Telugu in Vijnana Chandrika series.

On his return to India, he succeeded the great Aurobindo as vice-principal of the Baroda College in 1908. He accepted the offer of the foundation Vice-Chancellorship of Andhra University, when it was first set up at Vijayawada in 1926. He was instrumental in the relocation of the university in Visakhapatnam.

Mahatma Gandhi had started his Dandi march to manufacture salt to defy the orders of the imperial rulers. The Salt Satyagraha movement drew overwhelming response from all parts of the country and repression and lathicharge of the satyagrahis became the order of the day. Deeply moved by the turn of events, Reddy resigned his Vice-Chancellorship. He delivered a series of statements and speeches in the cause of the national movement.

He resumed the stewardship of Andhra University in 1936. However, the next year, he was nominated to the Madras Leglislative Council. He gave life to the proceedings in the House with his wit laced with sarcasm.

During World War II, CR Reddy, was of the strong view that the Allies should be enabled to win the war. He felt that it would prove disastrous to humanity, if they (Allies) lose the war. The Crown, pleased with his support to the war effort, gave him Knighthood. He however, returned the title later.

He was worried about the talk of partition of Kashmir in Britain. He wrote "They (the British) partitioned Ireland, they partitioned India and now they will try to partition Kashmir". He warned the Congress leaders that they would commit another blunder, if they allowed it to happen, as they did during the partition of India. He was always critical of India going to the Security Council on the issue instead of driving out the infiltrators first.

As Vice-Chancellor of Andhra University, he was instrumental in strengthening the university in its formative years by adding to the infrastructure facilities and introducing new courses. Reddy had a second stint as Andhra University VC after Sarvepalle Radhakrishnan. He accepted the Pro-Chancellorship of the Mysore Univeristy in 1949, which he served till 1951.

K.R Srinivasa Iyengar, in his book "Essays and Addresses", describes Reddy as a great educationist, a first-class teacher, humanist, a bold thinker and a reformer. Reddy's lectures on `University reforms' delivered in Madras under the presidency of Dr S. Subrahmania Aiyer, S. Srinivasa Iyengar and T.V. Seshagiri Ayyar had set the tone for university reform in south India. The accompanying statue of Sir C.R. Reddy is located at Siripuram junction.

B.M.G.

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