Dr BV Parameswara Rao, Founder of Bhagavatula Charitable Trust (BCT) passed away on the early hours of 9th June in Visakhapatnam. He was 86 years old. He is survived by his wife, Kalyani Bhagavatula, 4 children, their spouses and grandchildren. He had slipped into unconsciousness following a seizure on Wednesday, May 29, and since been battling for life. He was surrounded by family and loved ones during his final hours. Dr Rao is considered a phenomenon and a true Gandhian, who was respected by elite thinkers and administrators including Prime Ministers, Governors, etc. His initiatives within the villages of Andhra Pradesh transformed into movements having a profound impact on the large population within those villages and beyond. He continues to motivate the youth across the world to think about the development of India and its villages. He was instrumental in spearheading numerous programmes for the villages of Visakhapatnam district.
Carrying the dream of becoming a school teacher since childhood, he returned to his village Dimili in Andhra Pradesh, in 1967, after getting his PhD in Nuclear sciences at the prestigious Penn State University, USA. Driven by the desire to contribute to its development, he brought in community participation to bring a school to the region. The school still stands as it provides easy access to education for many students across 10 villages. This marked the beginning of many more projects like employment generation through salt pans near the sea coast, farmers’ cooperative etc., which in turn led to the formation of Bhagavatula Charitable Trust. Founded in 1976, November 11, the NGO in Visakhapatnam district of Andhra Pradesh, took up programmes for men, women, and children to enable them to prosper, lead better lives with self-sustaining livelihoods.
The pioneering efforts of Dr Parameswara Rao have won him and the organization, recognition across the world. His services were also sought by the World Bank and for various programmes by the Government of India including the National Literacy Mission, All India Khadi and Village Industries Board, National Institute of Rural Development, National Waste Land Development Board etc. Many prominent personalities that include governors of states, World bank teams, and distinguished intellectuals have visited this remote part of rural Visakhapatnam because of his work. Under his able guidance, BCT has undertaken over 1000 projects in the Visakhapatnam district.
From adult literacy to model education methods, from training women on livelihoods to providing programmes that offer rehabilitation to the physically challenged, programmes of BCT have been varied in their approach and reach. Over time, the lacunae that these villages face has changed too, and BCT has adapted with newer leadership and programmes to address those challenges. The focus on improving the quality of life for the villages of Andhra Pradesh has, however, always been the constant, ingrained by its Founder and leader.
Having motivated thousands of people with his unique ideologies, this cherished leader will deeply be missed and dearly remembered.