A columnist, commentator, Professor, Retired Rector of Andhra University, author and current Head of the Centre for Policy Studies; Dr. A Prasanna Kumar has proficiently donned several hats over the years. In his interaction with Uma, he opines that Vizag is what India should emulate today.
City of my destiny
“I came to this city 64 years ago when I enrolled in Andhra University, and today can very proudly say that I have enjoyed and benefitted from its affection. My initial impression of the city’s ethos that is firmly embedded in my psyche was the wonderful amalgamation of cultures – the Anglo-Indians, the Muslims, the Hindus; the city is a commingling of cultures. Also, the fact that they tolerated me and welcomed me, even though I was an outsider. And this attitude has prevailed over the years. You never find any communal clashes. One never bothers to enquire the caste and community of anyone you meet, something which happens all over the country. You scratch the surface and all you see is the caste and community anywhere else in Andhra Pradesh itself. But not in Vizag. That kind of caste division takes a backseat here.”
Illustrious Andhra University
“I will always be grateful to the city and the University that have nurtured me. Once, when invited to address a conference of IAS officers in IIPA, New Delhi, I overheard a few officers in the audience questioning the significance of a small town, Waltair and the (then) less-heard of Andhra University. Responding to their criticism, I began my address by asking the gathering if anyone could name the University where one of the greatest Indian philosophers presided over a function, in which a Nobel laureate addressed the gathering, and another Nobel laureate sat in the audience. I was referring to Tagore’s address in 1933 on “Man” to the gathering in Andhra University, that included Sir CV Raman, and was presided over by Sri Radhakrishnan in the capacity of Vice-Chancellor of the University. Immediately they stood up and applauded, to which I replied that I am only a teacher in that illustrious University. To me, Andhra University has always been as cherishing and benevolent as a mother. It is the University that taught me and gave me immense spiritual strength. It is the University that still feeds me, even today.”
The exceptionality of Vizag
“Vizag is a place where ‘what’ you do is important, ‘how’ you do it is important, and nobody asks you ‘why’ you are doing it. When I first came here, I was told that Vizag is India in a metropolis, today I want India to be an extrapolation of that. This is the real India of Tagore’s dreams, the India of Vivekananda’s vision, the nation that Buddha had envisioned, the country that our ancient books and classics had written about. And this is the kind of India that I would like to see.”