May 1, telephonic interview of Gita Ramaswamy with 82 year old Prof. R. Raghava Rao, retired scientist, Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad.
I worked at the Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad for a major part of my life. PRL was where ISRO originated. It had a small Ph D programme where the best scholars, mainly from the IITs and leading universities, were selected. Either in late 1971 or early 1972, George Reddy came to PRL, Ahmedabad to attend the interview selections for PhD scholars. As far as I remember, he was the first student from OU to do so. I was a member of the 6-member interview committee. Prof. Pisharoty, father of remote sensing in India, was the chairman of the committee. Normally, we give gradings to each candidate separately, and after the interviews are over, discuss and finalise our gradings.
George Reddy impressed all of us with his knowledge, quickness of response. He got an A+ from all of us. At the end of his interview, Prof. Pisharoty asked him: If you get a scholarship at OU and here too, which would you prefer? The boy instantly replied: Osmania University. Pisharoty asked me to take the boy to my room as he belonged to my state, and talk to him, explaining the advantages here.
I did so, and spoke to him for over an hour. I explained the facilities here, the attention we pay to students, the freedom we give them in choosing their subjects, the excellent lab facilities here, the higher scholarship available here, the opportunities students get to go abroad, etc. He listened patiently. When I asked him what he had decided, he said that he would think it over. He left without giving us an answer.
Maybe two months later, I read the news of his murder in the newspapers and was horrified. I had not thought that in my state of Andhra Pradesh, such a brilliant student could be so brutally murdered. Those of us in the faculty, particularly those who had interviewed him, also discussed this and we were disturbed. He had created such an impression on us.
None of us should take the step of killing another human being, whatever be the differences. Society should not condone this. This is the lesson I draw from the killing of George Reddy, a boy who could have become a great scientist and of great use to our country.