Ayyagari Ramamurthy Panthulu(BHARAT ELECTRONICS LIMITED)–Machilipatnam

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Ayyagari Ramamoorthy Panthulu – Founder of Andhra Scientific Company (taken overby BHARAT ELECTRONICS LIMITED). It was 33 years ago on July 26, 1949, that Ayyagari Ramamurti founder of the Andhra Scientific Company, Machilipatnam passed away. Ramamurti’s son was born on October 20, 1896. Cancer cut short a highly promising career of Ramamurti at 53 at a time when he was about to put Andhra in the forefront of the industrial map of India. The efflorescence of a teacher of science in a government school into a builder of a leading precision scientific instruments manufacturing company in the country is a saga worth recalling. The instruments industry in India is essentially a post independence development. Before independence there was hardly any manufacturing activity but for a very few and small units scattered in a few places in the country. In those days, imports were free and plenty. Banking and financial credit facilities were few. Government encouragement, unlike at the present, was non-existent. Training facilities for skilled and semi-skilled labour were meager. Andhra Pradesh was then a backward area industrially. And Machilipatnam was not developed and isolated, in spite of having, by then two premier institutions—the Andhra Bank and Andhra Insurance Company. 58 Celebrities All For everything, from a precision lathe to a standard screw or bolt and nut, one had to depend for supplies on Madras. It is against this background one has to assess the achievements of Ramamurti in founding the Andhra Scientific Company and making it into one of the foremost of its kind in the country within a span of two decades. Possessed with a keen business acumen, foresight and creative urge Ramamurti felt restless even in a secure Government job. As a teacher of science, he foresaw a great future for the manufacture of scientific instruments in India. He spurned promotion as headmaster and resigned from a lucrative government job to the shock of his family and dismay of his friends and plunged into his new venture. With no resources but a few hundreds of borrowed money from friends and no assets but his abilities and faith in his capacity, he started the Andhra Scientific Company in 1926 as a trading-cum-manufacturing unit. The first ten were challenging years for young Ramamurti. He had to undergo many trials and tribulations and contend with professional rivalries and personal jealousies. With courage and devotion, he built up the business step by step and brought it up from almost a one-man-show into a considerable size and importance. In 1937, he converted it into a public limited company with a capital Rs. 5 lakhs. Development of the company was as fast as it was varied. Being obliged to be self-dependent for everything, he had to start its own carpentry, smithy, foundry, moulding, painting sections Celebrities All 59 besides a full-fledged workshop. To keep all these divisions busy the production had to be diversified and increased. Thus we find the Andhra Scientific Company manufacturing such large variety of instruments. But the real greatness of Ramamurti was finding suitable personnel for all these jobs and he did it successfully, almost all being from local talent. He made some of the most illiterate men into first rate skilled and semi-skilled workers. The next ten years saw very great advance in the Andhra Scientific Company as well as in Ramamurti. The second world war gave a boost to indigenous production and the Andhra Scientific Company, which was already well equipped for it, seized the chance. Ramamurti, who never lost an opportunity, spotted and recruited right talent and started a research and development department, which enabled him to go into designing and production of advanced and sophisticated optical instruments. By the end of the second decade the Andhra Scientific Company became the leading and the biggest manufacturer of precision scientific instruments in the country with turnover of about Rs. 25 lakh a year and 600 people working and with spacious workshop and building of its own and share capital increased to about Rs. 10 lakhs. Ramamurti was as zealous about the quality of the instruments as of the welfare of his employees. While he never 60 Celebrities All compromised on the former, he never neglected the latter. Innumerable were the ways, Ramamurti used to look after his employees, extending his sympathy and financial assistance in their hour of need. He used to pray daily thanking the Almighty for choosing him as an instrument in creating livelihood to so many.

In 1947, he set up a unit at Chittigudur, a village seven miles from Machilipatnam for processing the raw materials into semi-finished goods, thus saving a lot of time and energy of his workers. He wished to set up a chain of such units all along the Machilipatnam-Vijayawada Road as ancillary units and thus created local employment. Even when he was severely down with cancer attack, he was planning for the further expansion of the Andhra Scientific Company. In 1948, he appointed an England-trained electronic engineer to start electronic instruments manufacture. Before the work could be started in earnest, he passed away. With him his plans also perished. Ramamurthy was a many-sided personality. His interest was not confined to instruments manufacture alone. In the early 40’s he and his brother, Dr. A.N. Rao, started a pharmaceutical factory at Machilipatnam called Eastern Drug Company. Around 1944, he founded National Chemicals Ltd., at Machilipatnam with a capital of Rs. 10 lakhs for manufacture of industrial chemicals, fertilizers, pesticides and laboratory chemicals. He started the Scientific Glass Products Ltd., for manufacture of optical components. But his biggest achievement would have been the starting of a Soda Ash factory in Andhra for which he had secured Central Government’s permission to locate it at Machilipatnam with a capital of Rs. 1.5 crore.

While the protracted negotiations were taking place with the Madras Government, Ramamurti had a severe set-back in his health. While undergoing rest at Bangalore after a major operation, a huge fire accident in the Andhra Scientific Company in 1948 forced him to rush back and start reconstruction work right from ashes. This strain caused a major upset and gradually sapped his energy and finally he passed away in July 1949, throwing all his plans and his dreams into disarray. Dr. C.R. Reddy called Murti a noble genius. The Madras Governor, Sir Archibald Nye hailed Ramamurti’s vision and genius. No greater tribute could be paid to Ramamurti than that three and half years later, all the company employees voluntarily contributed from their meagre salaries erected a statue in his memory in the company’s compound. It was unveiled by none other than Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, the then Vice-President of India and a great admirer of Ramamurti, on the occasion of the silver jubilee of the Andhra Scientific Company in January 1953.

His Son Dr.A Prasanna Kumar (Director: Centre for Policy Studies, Visakhapatnam).He is Professor and Head of the Department of Politics and Public Administration, Andhra University, Waltair. He has authored three books and many articles. He is also a sports commentator for All India Radio.


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