HYDERABAD: It is said that if there’s one thing Telugus value more than gold, it’s education. What’s well known is that in the best of universities across the world, Telugus are among the creme de la creme of the student pool. But not content with just learning, Telugus are also making a mark for themselves as teachers.
Donning a teacher’s robe is not a novel career choice, just one that has been largely overshadowed by the more visible options of engineering and medicine for Telugus. But these intellectually inclined folk can no longer be ignored.
Analysts estimate that there are easily more than 300-400 academicians of Telugu origin in universities across the US alone, including the Ivy League. They are not just fixtures in the Foreign Language or the South-Asian Studies departments but are distinguished research scholars, professors, heads of departments, deans, vice presidents, among others.
Some very distinguished academicians are people of Telugu origin. Consider Mysore-born Telugu man చల్యంపుడి రాధాకృష్ణ రావు (Calyampudi Radhakrishna Rao) (popularly known as CR Rao). Currently a Professor Emeritus at Penn State University, 89-year old Rao is a living legend and among the best known statisticians in the world. He has won innumerable awards, has 28 honorary degrees from universities over 17 countries and has his name etched in history for giving ‘Cramer-Rao bound’ and ‘Rao-Blackwell theorem’ to the world. Contemporary IT students will certainly have heard of రాజ్ రెడ్డి (Raj Reddy), the man behind the establishment of the IIIT at Hyderabad. A native of Katur in Chittoor district, this former professor at Stanford University is a pioneer, having founded the first-of-its-kind Robotics Institute in Carnegie Mellon University, way back in 1979.
CR Rao and Raj Reddy might be most prominent, but many other Telugus are shining on the American academic scene. డా. బాలమురళి అంబాటి (Dr Balamurali Ambati), India’s own ‘Doogie Howser’ became the world’s youngest doctor when graduated at 17. So what drives these academicians to become the achievers that they are?” Telugus do not care for name, fame or designation but teach because of their love for teaching,” explains Pudur Jagdeeswaran, a professor at the University of North Texas. He believes that Telugus, like most Indian professors, are able to bring more to their classroom because of their global outlook. Besides that, their excellent academic records, commitment to hard work and training skills nurtured in India help, he adds.
Which probably explains why several of these academicians are occupying responsible positions in their universities as well. For instance కృష్ణ పాలెపు (Krishna Palepu), the Senior Associate Dean for International Development at Harvard Business School and also Ross Walker professor of Business Administration. మైకెల్ రావు (Michael Rao) is the President of Virginia Commonwealth University. Breaking stereotypes, more and more Telugu teachers are reaching beyond subjects of engineering and medicine to social sciences, media and cultural studies, journalism etc. Speaking for Indian academicians (particularly Telugus) former professor of journalism, అనంత్ బబ్బిల్లి (Ananth Babbilli) also Dean, Provost and Vice President Academic Affairs at Texas A&M says, “Our intellectual depth nurtured by a multicultural and diverse cultural milieu in which we grew up, coupled with a confident global intuition are the secrets of our success”. He received the Texas Professor of the Year award by the Carnegie Foundation.
వంశీ జులురి (Vamsee Juluri), professor of Media Studies at University of San Fransico says that its natural for Telugus to be excellent professors, no matter what their subject, because they come from a culture of learning and a mindset that requires respect for education. On his part he always trying to break stereotypes and represent the Telugu voice of India in his class. He routinely screens Tollywood movies to his Do students to give them a better insight into Telugu culture. While spreading gyan among global students, mana gurus seem to be doing their homeland proud.