Cattamanchi Ramalinga Reddy December 10, 1880 – February 24, 1951 also popularly known as Sir C.R. Reddy was an educationist and political thinker, essayist and economist, and poet and literary critic. He wrote his works in Telugu and English, which reveal his deep love and learning of classics as well as modernity of his outlook. Reddy was the foremost educationalist who played a major role in shaping the educational policy in India. He was also the recipient of Knighthood by the British crown in honour of his service to the country.
He was the founder of Andhra University and also served as its Vice-Chancellor from 1926 to 1931 and in a further second term from 1936 to 1949.
Early life :-
Reddy was born in Cattamanchi, a suburb of Chittoor. He was the second son of Subramania Reddy who had built up a lucrative legal practice as a pleader in Chittoor and was known for his high sense of principles and right conduct. Reddy completed his high school education in PCR High School in Chittoor with distinction in 1896 and joined the prestigious Madras Christian College in 1897. Rev Dr Miller was the principal of the college and Dr Skinner was the professor of Philosophy there. Professor Kellet took English classes. All of them were greatly impressed by Reddy’s performance as a student and noted the qualities of his sharp and incisive mind. Even while in college, he was noted for his Telugu scholarship. He got a prize for writing a story in Telugu verse, called ‘Musalamma Maranamu’. It had some unique features and was viewed as an avant-garde effort in the field of Telugu poetry, quite different from the traditional prabhanda style.
In 1901, he graduated with distinction in philosophy and history securing several University prizes. Soon thereafter, he won a Government of India scholarship to study in University of Cambridge in England. He joined St Johns College at Cambridge in 1902, the college where the great English poet William Wordsworth had studied. His career at St Johns College, Cambridge, was no less distinguished than it had been at Madras Christian College. Apart from being a brilliant student, he made his mark as an outstanding speaker and debater. He was elected Secretary of the Liberal Club and later Vice President of the Union Society. He was the first Indian student to be chosen for that office in the Union Society. When he was the Vice President of the Union Society, John Maynard Keynes (destined to be a world-famous economist later) was the Secretary of the Union Society. On 31 October, 1905, Reddy invited Gopal Krishna Gokhale to address the Union Society. When Gokhale met John Maynard Keynes, he instantaneously recognised the genius of Keynes and commented that: ‘You are eminently fitted to be a Finance Member in the Viceroy’s Executive Council in India’.
Even as a student in Cambridge, Reddy campaigned on behalf of the Liberal Party in the Parliamentary Elections held in 1906 which swept the Liberal Party into power that year. Many British politicians admired Reddy’s gifts of intellect and eloquence and predicted a great future for him.
On his return to India in 1907, he joined Baroda college at Baroda as Vice-Principal in the place vacated by Sri Aurobindo Gosh. He was a brilliant teacher and some of his students have left memorable records about his wit and wisdom.
His next appointment was at Maharaja’s College in Mysore as professor of History in 1913. He was then promoted as principal of the same college in 1916 and simultaneously appointed as Inspector General of Education in Mysore State. It was during this period that Reddy with great foresight threw open all the schools to Panchama children much against the local orthodox opposition. This was long before the days of Mahatma Gandhi’s programme of temple entry for Harijans. Reddy is a revered name in Karnataka even today for this epoch-making step of social reform.
In 1921, he entered politics. He was elected to the Madras Legislative Council as an outstanding educationalist. For a short while he was in the Justice party. The Justice Party (India) found him far too brilliant and individualistic for keeping proper party control over him. In 1926 January, when it was decided to establish Andhra University at Waltaire, Reddy was the natural choice for appointment as its first Vice-Chancellor. He made Andhra University a great centre of higher education and outstanding research in both sciences and humanities. Towards the end of 1930, he did the extraordinary thing of resigning his Vice-Chancellorship in protest against the repressive policy of the Government of India in arresting the great leaders of Congress Salt Satyagraha movement. He wrote a classic letter in this context to the Governor of Madras. When he resigned his post as Vice-Chancellor, he was succeeded by Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan.
Reddy was back again in the field of politics. He became the president of Chittoor District Board. In 1936 at a Senate meeting of Andhra University, it was decided to invite Reddy to return again to Andhra University as its Vice-Chancellor. He came back in 1936 to Waltaire for the second time as Vice-Chancellor and retained this position till 1949. During this period Andhra University became internationally known. Dr S Bhagavantam, Dr T R Seshadri, Dr V K R V Rao and Dr V S Krishna, K. R. Srinivasa Iyengar and many other great professors made a beeline to Waltaire, inspired by the idealism and unique moral leadership of Reddy. In 1949, he became the Pro-chancellor of Mysore University. He died in Madras on 24 February, 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. Subramania Iyer, S. Srinivasa Iyengar and T. V. Seshagiri Iyer had set the tone for university reforms in India.
- ‘The youths of today are more ready to give than to receive advice’.
- ‘If man cannot find a satisfactory axiom, he invents a hypothesis’.
- We may be poor, but we need not be paupers’.
- Applied science is Herculean power’.
- ‘Will without reason, reason without will, either is an unhappy combination. The two must go together balancing each other’.
- ‘Government and parties are agreed in this, they prefer creatures to creators of ideas who are always a troublesome lot’.
- ‘Great Britain next year may give us a self-governing State, but nobody can give us a self-disciplined nation excepting ourselves’
- ‘Every form of government, especially democracy, rests on two foundations. The first is a strong character and the second a sane and balanced judgement’.
- ‘Brevity is the soul of curfew’.
- ‘Self government implies self-help’.
- ‘Democracy is a means to an end. The end is not partisan party government. The end is good government’.
- Vijnana Chandrika seris’
- Biography Dr. C.R Reddy
- Official Website of Andhra University
- Official Website of Sir CR Reddy College
- Official Website of SIR C R Reddy Engineering college
- C R Reddy’s stellar contributions hailed.
- Educationalist par excellence