Remembering the Legacy of Renowned Educationalist Prof. Tangeda Navaneetha Rao

 Prof Tangeda Navaneetha Rao

It is with a profound sense of gratitude and admiration to pen down this heartfelt tribute to the late Professor Tangeda Navaneetha Rao, a luminary in the field of education and an iconic figure in the annals of Osmania University’s history. Prof. Rao’s journey, from a remote Jeelugula village situated in erstwhile Karimnagar district, to becoming a torchbearer of academic excellence is a narrative that deserves to be remembered. His educational journey commenced at Osmania University itself, where he pursued his bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees.

As a teacher, researcher, and administrator, Prof. Rao’s connection with Osmania University spanned an impressive 43 years, solidifying his status as a stalwart in the academic community. His contributions, both as a scholar and as a leader, are indelibly carved in the history of this venerable institution. During his tenure as 16th Vice-Chancellor for two consecutive periods (1985–88 and 1988–91), Prof. Rao steered Osmania University through a transformative period, marked by audacious decisions and a vision for excellence. His leadership ushered in an era of inclusivity, where the administration reflected the diverse social and economic milieu of the time.

One of Prof. Navaneetha Rao’s enduring legacies is his unwavering commitment to preserving Osmania University’s expansive annex for educational, research, and employment purposes. The construction of a protective wall around the campus, akin to the Great Wall of China in its significance, stands as a testament to his perseverance. In the present day, a road running alongside this wall serves as a guardian of OU’s land, perpetuating his legacy of safeguarding the university’s invaluable resources.

Prof. Rao’s clout stretched far beyond the boundaries of Osmania University by nurturing a generation of researchers and students who went on to achieve global recognition. Under his guidance, numerous research papers, publications, and cutting-edge technologies were developed, further solidifying the status of OU on the international academic stage.

This erudite scholar investigated a wide range of topics, including environmental chemistry, chemical education, and the application of technology in rural areas. His extensive body of work includes five books and nearly 220 research papers, along with 160 research paper presentations at national and international conferences. Moreover, he delivered keynote addresses and invited talks, enriching academic conversation.

Prof. Rao’s tireless dedication did not go unnoticed, as he received numerous awards and accolades, including the J.C. Young Scientist Award in 1972, the Best University Teacher Award in 1981, and the St. Meesum Award in 1986. His contributions to science and technology earned him prestigious honours like the Dr. CR Reddy Vamsi Award in 1989. In 1990, his achievements were celebrated with multiple awards, including the National Unity Award, Vijya Shree Award, and the Andhra Pradesh Academy of Sciences Award.

Beyond his academic pursuits, Prof. Rao held pivotal roles in various institutions and committees, serving as President of IPE, Director of Andhra Bank, and Member of Task Force. His influence extended to cultural and economic exchanges between the European Union and India, highlighting his versatile leadership.

As a distinguished Vice-Chancellor, Rector, Director of PG Colleges, Head of Chemistry Department, and Chairman of the Karnataka Universities Review Commission, Professor Navaneetha Rao’s contributions to academia are immeasurable. His membership in numerous professional organizations, including the Indian Science Congress, the Indian Chemical Society, the Indian Photobiological Society, and the Indian Electrochemical Society, further exemplifies his commitment to advancing knowledge.  In his role as a Research Fellow at the Royal Society of Chemistry (London) and as a member of the Inter-American Photochemical Society, Prof. Rao’s international collaborations enriched the academic landscape. Up to his demise, he continued to serve on the Andhra Pradesh State Research and Development Committee and the Executive Committee of the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT). In addition, his tenure as the Chairman of the Administrative Staff College of India, Hyderabad, and his contributions to the Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board highlight his multifaceted impact on society.

It is undeniable that Osmania University has flourished under the visionary guidance of Prof. Rao. His bold decisions, particularly in the realms of inclusivity and human resource development, have left an indelible mark on this institution. Over 300 academic and support staff members owe their careers to his foresight. His emphasis on expanding teaching and reader positions between 1988 and 1990 ensured a robust faculty for OU, one that is now approaching retirement, thanks to his foresight.

In retrospect, Professor Navaneetha Rao’s legacy is evidence to his profound humanity. His support for inter-caste marriages, his commitment to providing opportunities to the unemployed, and his instrumental role in establishing renowned educational institutions underscore his deep compassion for society.

Today, it is regrettable that he is no longer here with us. Let’s all strive together to follow in his footsteps in order to boost pride and honour of Osmania University to the greatest extend feasible.  Let’s all rethink who we are, as Osmanians, to reinforce the framework that has been designed and to make OU as a global centre for research and teaching.  This is the true tribute we can pay to this inspirational personality.

(A condolence meeting will be organized at Tagore Auditorium, Osmania University on September 4th at 3:00 PM, dedicated to honouring the memory of Prof. T. Navaneetha Rao).

Dr. Ram Shepherd Bheenaveni, Post-Doctoral Fellow, University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley, USA


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