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A Lush Crop of Achievers
Agriculture College of Bapatla, which just celebrated its Platinum Jubilee, gets a unique tribute from its alumni in the form of four volumes, profiling the College's most illustrious former students
In an era when institutions crumble so quickly that they leave no footprints in the sands of time, here is an institution that stood firm and tall. And produced shining examples of success decade after decade. This week, Bapatla College of Agriculture, one of the most premier institutions of agriculture education, completes a glorious 75 years, with the Platinum Jubilee celebrations drawing to a close on Jan 21, 2023.
Established in 1945 in the then composite state of Madras, Agricultural College, Bapatla, is the oldest among the eight Agriculture Colleges affiliated to Acharya N G Ranga Agricultural University, Andhra Pradesh. An institution that was set up to strengthen agricultural education and produce graduates, has gradually evolved into a touchstone for quality and innovation in the discipline and has turned out professionals who rose to great heights. The institution now has postgraduate and doctoral programmes and has been expanded to a remarkable scale with state-of-the-art equipment and infrastructure and is a hotbed for advanced research.
As the College was reaching its Platinum year, some of the alumni decided to celebrate their alma mater in a unique way and this led to one of the biggest ever profiling projects of the alumni of any institution in the world. "The evolution of our College is clearly visible to anyone who traces its history. And we decided to capture that spectacular journey through the multitudes who passed through the portals, out into the world and made a mark in various sectors," explains Gopichand Valeti, an alumnus from the 1980 batch, whose association with the College continues in various ways decades after he graduated.
Thus was born a project, which could have been too mammoth for anyone else other than the team of dauntless alumni. The outcome – three massive volumes entitled 'Veluturu Tovalu' (Paths of Light), Velugu Divvelu (Glowing lamps) and Velugu Poolu (Flowers of Light).
From its inception year 1945 till about 1970, Bapatla College had research as its central activity, due to the many grants available at that time as well as tie-ups with foreign universities that the Government had initiated. After 1970, there was more inclination to pursue the Civil Services with senior bureaucrats such as Dr Malakondaiah and Ajay Kallam, triumphing in the exams. The first IAS from the college emerged in 1974, followed by the first IPS in 1976. The following years saw Bapatla graduates getting into various services and taking up posts in the higher echelons of the Bureaucracy. There was also an unusually high number of bankers with GR Chintala becoming the first Bapatla College product, batch of 1978, to become Chairman of NABARD. Millets King Dr Hari Narayana, Dr SVN Sastry, Dr IV Subba Rao, Dr NGP Rao, Dr MV Reddy, Dr Padmaraju are some of the notable names in this journey. N Hymavathi, the first IFS Official, inspired innumerable other women in the college to reach for excellence in the public domain. Bapatla products also made a mark in the field of politics, with stalwarts such as Gurram Narayanappa and Dr Ummareddy Venkateswarulu influencing, inspiring and designing policy related to agriculture and agriculture education both at the State and Central levels. There were also remarkable contributors in the spiritual field as well as to the Leftist stream with ideologues such as V Chandrasekhar (1954) and G Prasad Rao of the 1981 batch, who sacrificed his life for the cause he chose.
The 1990s saw a massive shift of Agriculture graduates to the IT sector with many alumni combining their degrees with IIM MBAs and becoming CEOs of MNCs, setting up agritech companies, seed companies and becoming successful technocrats. Media, especially public broadcasters, also have their fair share among the alumni.
"Bapatla was a small town and the most vibrant activity was happening only on the campus. This enabled the students not only to focus fully on education but also have fruitful interaction and four years of bonding without any distraction. This ensured a continuity across batches, leading to immersion in the subject of their study and its prospects.
"The one singular thread that runs through the consecutive batches is an immense attachment and love for our College. And documenting the successes of the alumni was our way of commemorating our college," says Gopichand.
But this desire alone was not enough and the project took painstaking research, coordination and effort to culminate in the glossy volumes that comprehensively lists out and details the careers of 255 Bapatla graduates. The bulk of coordination, conceptualization, correspondence and collating happened during the Corona period in 2020, and a volume covering all the 75 batches was released before the three volumes with detailed profiles.
"The logistics were complicated, selection of the alumni very tricky..there were so many..and then there was the finance issue for publication of the volumes," recalls Valeti. That was when Baddevolu Srihari Reddy and K Suresh, Yaganti Venkateswarulu and others, alumni, stepped up and sponsored the costs of the project, and the publication was executed ably by Padmasri Raitunestam Venkateswara Rao, a champion of the cause. Bapatla College of Agriculture has many unique things to its credit. An increasing number of women graduates, alumni reaching highest realms of professional success, extending from policy-making, innovation to entrepreneurship and research. And now, as the Platinum Jubilee year draws to a close, the scions of a magnificent academic tradition stand united to pay a tribute to their alma mater.