The Telugu World Column# 22
Many Scientists Remain Unknown
On the day Sanjay Gandhi died in an air crash, I was in a news agency office handling the Desk. Luckily, thanks to a friend’s friend who was an eye-witness and informed his friend in Hyderabad, who chanced to be with me, I got the news before it came on the ticker (yes, news was transmitted on teleprinter machines those days) and could inform some VIPs to get their reaction. Lucky because the telephone could not be used for the rest of the day thanks to rumours of the death of scores of others and people phoning to confirm them. The rumours ‘killed’ almost everyone who, according to people, mattered. They were all false.
There was a caller, a girl, who asked me tearfully if R… a disgustingly vulgar ‘comedian’ of Telugu films who I disliked particularly, was killed. Obviously she was a fan who liked him very much. I had the satisfaction of telling her, “I am extremely sorry. I regret to inform you that, very unfortunately, he is still alive and was not killed in an accident,” before disconnecting the call.
It now occurs to me that not one of those ‘killed’ by the rumour mills was a Telugu writer, academic or scientist. Last week I wrote of how few in the Telugu states had heard of a world renowned Telugu scientist, Dr. C.R. Rao. During the stay in Telangana I had also not heard of Shoebulla Khan who was brutally murdered and his hands cut off by Razakars (now Majlis-e-Ittahad-ul-Muslimeeen, or MIM) for opposing the Nizam’s plan to join Pakistan. The year 2020 marks centenary of Shoeb, who became an editor at the age of 20. It is not being celebrated despite my repeated call to all concerned. But film stars have mass following and fan clubs. This is the misfortune of the Telugu world today.
Most people in the Telugu states want to be in the information technology field and swear by computer science, but they do not know that Dabbala Rajagopal (“Raj”) Reddy, born on 13 June 1937at Katur in Chitoor district of AP, an Indian-American computer scientist who won the ACM Turing Award, was an early pioneer of Artificial Intelligence. He has served on the faculty of Stanford and Carnegie Mellon for over 50 years. He was the founding director of the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. He was instrumental in helping to create Rajiv Gandhi University of Knowledge Technologies in India, to cater to the educational needs of the low-income, gifted, rural youth. He is the chairman of International Institute of Information Technology, Hyderabad. He is the first person of Asian origin to receive the Turing (1994), the highest award in computer science, for his work on artificial intelligence. Besides the Turing Award, he was conferred the Legion of Honor (1984), Padma Bhushan (2001) The Okawa Prize (2004), The Honda Prize (2005) and the Vannevar Bush Award (2006). A major recognition of his merit came when he was appointed Co-Chairman of US President’s Information Technology Commission
One of the founders of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence and its ex-President, he served on the International board of governors of Peres Center for Peace in Israel and was honoured by many countries. Though he had a B.E. in civil engineering from Guindy engineering college in Chennai he was inducted into the electrical and electronic engineers’ IEEE Hall of Fame for the “significant contributions to the field of AI and intelligent system.”
The one person all Telugus are proud of is Satya Nadella, the current CEO of Microsoft. Son of a famous IAS officer, B. N. Yugandhar, he was born in Hyderabad, studied in Manipal, Mangalore, and worked with Sun Microsystems before joining Microsoft in 1992. He was Executive Vice President of Cloud & Enterprise Group and President of Server & Tools at Microsoft Corporation before becoming the CEO in February this year. He played an important role in the transformation to the cloud infrastructure and services business which occupied the market. He has also been a key person in taking various internal decisions at Microsoft.
Nadella is believed to be a person of extraordinary intelligence and his model of administering Microsoft is copied by many companies. It is unfortunate, however, that Telugu people adore him not for his intelligence and achievements but because he heads the company of Bill Gates, one of the richest men in the world.