Y. S. Rajashekar Reddy
Dr. Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy Foundation Inc.
Y. S. Rajashekar Reddy
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About YSR
 
 

Dr. YeduguriSandinti Rajasekhara Reddy, popularly known as YSR, is an astute politician and a charismatic mass leader who has carved for himself a niche in State politics by his exemplary devotion and dedication to the uplift of the downtrodden and neglected segments of society. Born on July 8, 1949, in Pulivendula in the backward Rayalaseema region, YSR has always struggled to secure the rights of the poor and the underprivileged. Son of late Sri Y.S.Raja Reddy, a dynamic leader in his heyday, Rajasekhara Reddy evinced interest in politics right from his student days. While studying in M R Medical College, Gulbarga, Karnataka, he served as President of the Students union. He was elected leader of the House Surgeon's Association in S V Medical College, Tirupati.

After completing MBBS, he served as Medical Officer at the Jammalamadugu Mission Hospital for a brief period. In 1973, he established a 70-bed charitable hospital, named after his father late Y.S.Raja Reddy at Pulivendula. His family established one
polytechnic and one degree college in Pulivendula, which were later handed over to the well-known Loyola group of institutions.

Rajasekhara Reddy’s sound business acumen, entrepreneurial skills, and, above all, his transparency brought him laurels in the business arena. On the flip side, his success also brought him many adversaries, political and otherwise, who were desperately looking for a shred of evidence to prove umpteen charges against him. In the end, their mud-slinging did not yield a single point that could paint the mass leader in bad light. In fact, his detractors became red-faced, as they had to swallow their words. Groomed by a family deeply involved in public service, YSR entered active politics in 1978 and contested elections, four times to enter the State Legislative Assembly and an equal number of times to enter the Lower House of Parliament. A winner in all that he does, YSR won all the elections he contested. Even today his admirers exclaim: “He (YSR) defeats defeat.”

During his 25-year-long political career, YSR has served the people in multiple capacities, both in Government as well as in Party. He was President of the Andhra Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) twice - 1983-1985 and 1998-2000. During 1980-1983, he was a minister holding important portfolios related to Rural Development, Medical & Health and Education etc. From 1999 to 2004 he was the Leader of Opposition in the eleventh state assembly. As a champion of the masses, his stentorian voice in the assembly, raised particularly during debates that sought to lend voice to the voiceless millions, forced the Government to retrace several anti-people steps it contemplated. YSR has been instrumental in orchestrating several mass struggles, while highlighting issues facing peasants, weavers, Dalits, youth and women. His relentless fight for clearance of pending irrigation projects, particularly in the backward Rayalaseema region, has earned for him a special place in the hearts of millions of farmers. His unremitting struggle against certain anti-people economic measures that were sought to be introduced in the name of “reforms”, including the frequent increases in power tariff and indiscriminate privatization of public sector units, exalted him far above the street smart politicians. Even as a novice in the legislature, YSR rallied all the Congress MLAs from the Rayalaseema region and led an indefinite hunger strike demanding solution to the water crisis. He also led a Paadayaatra from Lepakshi to Pothireddipadu in Kurnool district. The 14-day hunger strike of legislators under his leadership in August 2000 to register protest against the hike in power charges is still fresh in the memory of people. By systematically exposing the misdeeds of the then Government, both inside and outside the Assembly, YSR was playing his political role to the hilt. During mid-summer in 2003, he led an unprecedented 1400 Km long Paadayaatra covering all backward areas in the state to understand the ground realities of living conditions of the people there.

Now, as Chief Minister, the crowning glory of this studded political career, he can proudly claim to be the quintessence of a politician who, with vision focused on the coming generations as well, has earned the title of a statesman. Amidst a bewildering number of turncoats among politicians, who thrive in “shifting loyalties", YSR stands out as a sterling example of the old guard in pristine Indian politics. This explains why he has never turned his back on the Congress party, which nurtured his political moorings. The lure of power and pelf could not divert him, when the party was briefly out of power, from his mission to hold the reins of power as a trusted lieutenant of the Congress and, more importantly, as a darling of the masses.

Sworn in as Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh on 14.05.2004.
Dr.YSR in his public life “I want to ensure that no field in Andhra Pradesh went dry without water; No farmer is driven to suicide for either crop failures or remunerative price for his produce; that no house of poor is in darkness for lack of electricity; and that no industry is closed for lack of infrastructure. My vision is for transforming the state into Haritandhrapradesh – a state where farm-fields always remain green and where the people wore bright smile on their face", said Chief Minister Dr.Y.S.Rajasekhara Reddy in his address to the Andhra Pradesh State Legislative Assembly. These are not words of a self-contended man, but that of a person who has risen from the bottom of the political pyramid in Andhra Pradesh, survived, created a niche for himself and got to the top post through continuous and painstaking efforts. Dr.YeduguriSandinti Rajasekhara Reddy(58), popularly addressed by his admirers as YSR is perhaps the first politician of Andhra Pradesh who strove through 25 years of public life and achieved his present position by dint of sheer hard work, and determined journey in State Congress. While majority of his contemporaries shifted loyalties, jumped fences and gulped their own public utterances and morphed their images, Dr.Reddy stood like a rock, weathered all adverse situations and remained loyal to his beliefs with a charming and enchanting smile . All visitors to his home and his office will be bowled out instantly for his humane approach laced with warm smile and his popular yet humble and simple opening remarks - “What Sir? Throughout his checkered political career of several ups and downs, Dr. Rajasekhar Reddy never lost sight of the poor farmer, women and the unemployed youth. He is totally dedicated to public service.

Dr. Rajasekhara Reddy never believed in short cuts or adhocism-“I always aim to provide lasting solutions to burning problems faced by the society like poverty, diseases, illiteracy, unemployment and corruption. I insist with everyone that whatever be the time, resources and efforts needed one should always opt against adhocism and work for a final solutions”, he says.

Early years:
Born on July 8, 1949, in Pulivendula village of Kadapa district in the backward Rayalaseema region in a farmer’s family, Rajasekhara Reddy mingled with people and developed a taste for social service. He was always at the forefront for community welfare activities in the village. Fresh from his graduation in Medicine from Gulbarga Medical College in Karnataka he was attracted by the speeches and work of late prime minister and Congress President Mrs. Indira Gandhi. What attracted him more was Mrs. Gandhi’s initiative- GaribiHatao- aimed at eradicating poverty of the farmer. Son of late Sri Y.S.Raja Reddy, a social worker and former leader of Kadapa, Rajasekhara Reddy took to politics right from his student days. Raja Reddy’s sound advice on moral based politics and to focus on welfare of farmers and women paid, good dividend. Rajasekhara Reddy has set an electoral record of sorts. He has never seen defeat in any of the four assembly and four parliament elections he contested from Pulivendula and Kadapa constituencies respectively since 1978. Dr.Reddy has never tasted defeat and is a winner all the time, say his ardent followers. Thus began his sojourn with the people of Andhra Pradesh 28 years ago, that Dr.Reddy has never looked back.
In fact, Rajasekhara Reddy began the trend setting of Gandhian tool of Padayatras to redress public grievances way back in 1999-2000. Besides staging indefinite hunger strikes, he also undertook padayatra between Lepakshi in Anantpur to Pothireddipadu in Kurnool (150 kms) in early eighties to focus attention on drinking water and irrigation needs of the Rayalaseema districts.

First Step
Dr.Reddy’s political journey began at the bottom of the pyramid. He has risen to unequalled position and level through struggle, mass following and determination. He was a cabinet minister between1980-83 when Congress was in power in the state. He headed the state party as the President of the Andhra Pradesh Congress Committee during the crucial periods of 1983-85 and 1998-2000. He boosted the morale of the Congress workers in an era of discontent and growing influence of anti- Congressism spread by the Telugu Desam Party led by N.T.Ramarao. During both the general elections in the state YSR salvaged the image of the party from the battering of the emotion-packed TDP onslaught. After years of back seat driving in state affairs, Y S Rajasekhara Reddy took on the mantle with his political opponents. In 1999 he took on the TDP in a direct fight but the party missed power by a whisker. Although it had sizable popular vote the party missed the numbers and in fitness of things YSR became the leader of Opposition in the state with 91 party legislators in the AP Assembly.

It was during this period that Dr.Reddy gave voice and shape to his vision to fight for the redemption of the suffering of the masses. Both in the Assembly and outside it, YSR forcefully struck at the anti-people measures of the TDP led by N. Chandrababu Naidu. Under his leadership the Congress consolidated its alliance with the left parties and the MIM in the state and isolated the TDP and its saffron ally BJP. One could say that it was ingenuous leadership of Dr.Reddy that helped the Congress to return to power in AP after a lapse of almost a decade and eclipse the TDP and the more than life image of its leader N Chandrababu Naidu that haunted the Congress party

Rajasekhara Reddy stunned the ruling party, TDP in the assembly and also outside with his forceful and well documented deliveries in the House. He steered the struggle against Naidu regime's power reforms without human face by bringing back anti-TDP and anti-BJP political forces together on a platform and staged an indefinite hunger strike against the government. He championed the cause of the masses and highlighted the issues of farmers, weavers, dalits, youth and women embracing the TDP regime day–in and day-out. It goes to Dr.Reddy’s credit that during his stint as an Opposition leader in the AP assembly his campaign exposed the lacunae in the Power Purchase Agreements (PPA’s). YSR also took up the cause of farmers' suicides in his correspondence with the National Human Rights Commission and thus won their confidence and built a case for giving them economic assistance including 'free power'.

Padayatra and Sea of Popularity for YSR:
The landmark achievement of Dr.Reddy which placed him at the peak state was his 1500 KM long Marathon Walk across the state in the blistering summer of 2003. The stellar performance of the Congress leader left the opposition awe-struck and defenseless in the general elections later. Covering his semi-bald pate with a towel and protesting his feet with Nike shoes Rajasekhara Reddy shocked his opponents with his “Walk Marathon”. It also gave him a first hand insight into the problems of the farmer and also sufferings of the rural poor. “I not only came in close contact with rural India that I belong to and love very much, but my padayatra also gave me an insight into the bureaucratic road blocks which came in the way of reaching the benefits to the common man", YSR told his associates after the walkathon of 2003. The Padayatra also helped him to consolidate his vision on the needs of the farmer and common man, and also that interim measures and adhocism would not yield expected end-results. “I firmly believed in what late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had said that hardly one-tenth of a rupee spent reached the beneficiary. Hence my focus on free power and irrigation projects, land distribution and enhanced agricultural credit", says YSR.

YSR Personality
The hallmark of all great men is simplicity in thought and deed. These elements are profoundly and abundantly resplendent in Dr. Reddy throughout his political journey. A loving father, caring husband, popular mass leader, versatile administrator and above all a good Christian, YSR is the embodiment of a mature and astute Indian politician who dared to have a vision of his own in spite of heavy odds and adversaries all around him. As a trusted lieutenant of the Congress party both when out of power and also while in power, Dr. Reddy is the most revered and admired contemporary Andhra politician in the country. He has brought a sea change in the functioning of the state bureaucracy and his own CMO by infusing simple and effective guidelines, where hypocrisy and hyped up publicity mongering have no room.

Despite huge personal risks after the Maoists walked out of peace talks (they refuse to give up arms even while pursing peace) Dr. Reddy met a minimum of 100 visitors without any appointment every day at his daily durbar at his camp office. “They come from hundreds of miles to see me and tell their sufferings. I have no hesitation to give such people a minimum of 60 minutes every day in spite of my busy schedule" he has instructed his staff. His modesty is reflected even in his interaction with senior bureaucrats. YSR relaxed the regimentation. “I don’t need the chief secretary to brief me in person. It is okay if tells me the days development in tele-conference “he says. So no early morning blues for officials who can go ahead with their daily chore of administration without wasting any time. He is perhaps the only Chief Minister who does not have any hang ups on inhibitions on personal likes and dislikes. He is also the one who did not insist on a traffic blocks for his caravan. Citizens of Hyderabad are relieved that there would be no more the hours of waiting and traffic bottlenecks to facilitate a CM’s motorcade. “After all we are part of the society, and earlier decisions to stall traffic for CM’s caused enormous wastage of fuel and also valuable time of the commuters", he says.

Dr. Reddy and his family believed in simple living. YSR always took time out for entertainment and relaxation and weekends. “Administration is not one man show. It is a combination of collective decisions and actions. I believe and want every government employee to feel responsible and do his part faithfully. I cannot be all in all or all in one. My job is to give a direction. I am confident that everyone else will deliver their part of the function. I do not believe in empty sloganeering or projections of working for 18 hours a day etc". The chief minister believed in calling a spade, a spade .He advocated against hiding facts or white washing statistics. “The truth will come out one day and instead of carrying the stigma throughout our lifetime let us dismiss it as a day-to-day issue" he says. What perhaps his strongest point of his personality was YSR’s warmth and a friendly smile on a 24x7 basis. One could hardly ever find him pensive or worked up in public. His warm smile had always disarmed many of his opponents and media critics. “Many come to him with complaints and critical questions. But his friendly appearance totally envelopes everyone and they leave without any heart burning" says Suridu, one of Dr.Reddy’s life time personal associate.

YSR Mission:
From the beginning Dr. Reddy had been a champion of reforms with a human face. It is this humane principle that prompted him to take pioneering steps to ensure delivery services, benefits and initiatives for total redressal of the problem. Within an hour of his taking oath as chief minister at LalBahadur Stadium in May 2004 he announced waiver of electricity dues of poor farmers and also Free power for agriculture. There after followed his program to permanently eradicate rural poverty and give assured water to all cultivable lands in the state. The Indira KrantiPatham, Jalayajnam, Indiramma, BhooYajnam, BhooBharati are among the flagship programs of YSR government aimed at eradicating rural and urban poverty, give land to landless, houses to all and also construct irrigation projects to provide assured water to all lands. Rajiv Swagriha is yet another project that Dr.Y.S.R. launched, to see that every middle income group family would own a house. Under Arogya Sri programme, a novel health insurance scheme is introduced for the BPL families, so that the poor could get surgery treatment worth upto Rs.2lakhs, while the govt. would pay the total premium. “We are taking external loans for productive purposes and raising internal resources also" says YSR replying to oft sought clarification on how he raised funds for all projects .Dr.Reddy has not relegated social welfare sector in his zeal for key programs like free-power to agriculture, massive Irrigation projects, land distribution to landless and Housing for poor. “The SC/ST, Minorities and women besides elderly persons get a larger share of the budget than in the past. We have not forgotten our principle duties to the society- primary health, primary education, in our pursuit for achieving sustainable development of Industry, Agriculture, small scale sector, IT, BT and textiles" he told the global audience at the ADB meetings in Hyderabad during May 2006.

YSR Pastime:
Dr.Reddy is one of those few politicians of India who practice what they believe in – to serve the people to the last breath. But for the little time he gave his family and friends, Rajasekhara Reddy always found pleasure to be with people and understand their problems. Dr.Reddy traveled across the state for 5500 kms spread over 20 days between April 5 to 20 to consolidate the gains of his earlier Padayatra. Almost an year ago he had walked 1500 kms on foot to understand the suffering of the people . As an opposition leader and also as a MLA and MP and Party president, Dr.Reddy spent most of his time in visiting villages and districts all over the state. As a chief minister too he continued the practice with a dual purpose. He wanted feedback from the people for his new initiatives so that he could take corrective steps to ensure their acceptability and benefits to larger sections of the population. Hence he coined district tours after his beloved leader Rajiv Gandhi- Rajiv Palle Bata and Rajiv Nagara Bata to elicit public response for his administration. Traveling 200 miles by road for at least two days a week became his lifestyle for over two years. After completing the village rounds, he continued the exercise to acclimatize with the people in semi-urban towns and cities of the state.
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His ‘Bata’ tours became so famous that several departments also coined their campaigns after the Chief Ministers ingenious program to address their message for farmers, women, youth, school children , industrial workers , HIV/AIDS and Polio vaccines.

His Approach:
YSR is known for his no-nonsense approach to everything in life. He did not mince words and always believed in a direct approach to the problems instead of delay or postponing them. Dr. Reddy made it clear to everyone that although promotion of agriculture and farmers welfare was very dear to his heart he had no bias against new and emerging technologies like IT and BT etc. His government has promoted the PPP platform to introduce several initiatives in the Infrastructure sector. Soon after assumption of office he spelled out his agenda to the bureaucrats and urged them to ensure its successful implementation. “We are all here to serve the people. Let us do it to the best of our ability” he told them. Similar were his approach to win over the support and confidence of legislators of all hues including those of his party. “My doors are open to all for problems of people at any time of the day" he told them and urged them to make best of use of the opportunity for the betterment of the society Dr.Reddy, humane approach to problems of the poor always earned him laurels and blessings of everyone. He strived day and night to put prime minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s words into action. “I want to wipe out every tear from the eyes of all poor in this nation" Nehru had said in his address to the nation on the eve of first independence day celebration.

His Testimonies:
Dr. Reddy is not just a man of the masses but also a fine tuned strategist and mature administrator .Within months of takeover he brought financial discipline in his administration which earned him kudos from all including the World Bank. Pessimists who cried hoarse that the state would not be able to raise any funds for its programs and drive investors away from AP in view of farmers free power initiative are now taken aback that almost every financial institution was keen to invest in AP’s projects and also in the state. The president of World Bank Dr. Wolfowitz was all praise for his human face approach to economic reforms. Although the apex bank had initial resistance to fund AP program in view of its free power to farmer’s initiative, it came around later. The bank has continued its anti-poverty and other reforms program funding. “The states application for funding the irrigation works is also receiving WB’s positive consideration “says the WB spokesman. The President of Asian Development Bank Sri.Haruhiko Kuroda was full of praise for the development initiatives of the Dr.Reddy’s administration. He was happy that all the borrowings were now being utilized in the productive and developmental activities instead of establishment expenditure.

A glowing testimony to Dr.Reddy's political and economic acumen came from another global dignitary, President of United States George W Bush. During his recent visit to Andhra Pradesh the US President paid hearty kudos to the initiatives of Dr.Reddy’s administration for the prosperity of farmers. “I am happy that the reforms are continued with human face" the President had told the Chief Minister. The Prime Minister Dr.Man Mohan Singh and AICC President Sonia Gandhi have recognized the Dr.Reddy's pro-active and people friendly measures and have hailed AP as a role model state for emulation in anti-poverty and sustainable development initiatives. The Prime minister described Dr. Reddy as a visionary who strived to bridge rural and urban divide in AP. The state has been chosen for launch of the flagship anti-poverty schemes of UPA government like National rural employment guarantee scheme. Both Prime Minister Dr.Man Mohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi launched the scheme at a remote village in Anantpur district.

Conclusion:
Dr. Y.S.Rajasekhara Reddy is the ground to earth political personality whose epoch-making measures for farmer's welfare are unparalleled in the political history of the country. Dr.Reddy's initiatives have arrested the suicidal tendencies among the farmers of Andhra Pradesh and also boosted their confidence and morale to undertake innovative cropping patterns to show that agriculture was no more a losers enterprise but one of gainful employment for thousands and that of bread earner for millions of people. The long cherished dream of Greater Hyderabad all set to become a reality. Andhra Pradesh could get the highest Annual Plan for 2007-08, which is about Rs.30,500crore, thanks to the relentless efforts and constant pursuance of the Chief Minister Dr, Reddy. Dr. Reddy could restore the State Legislative Council after a lapse of 22 years, after it was abolished back in 1985. The Chief Minister Dr. Reddy could gear up the Agriculture front, rejuvenate irrigation, boost up IT & Industries and create enormous employment potential to the delight of the common man. To put it in his own words: "I am not trying to change the world. I am only trying to facilitate everyone to accept the change and equip themselves for achieving sustainable development by exploiting the emerging technologies ".
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Dawn of a new era in Andhra Pradesh YSR firmly reiterates, "my mission is to make Andhra Pradesh Annapurna of India and IT hub of the world". It is his belief that "when your vision is on the target, obstacles are surmountable." He always likes to work with a team spirit instead of being obsessed with self-projection.

Rapid strides of progress have been registered ever since he took over reigns of power as Chief Minister of AP on 14-5-2004. If we see the results, most of them are unprecedented and unique achievements......
To quote a few of them-

Enhancement of Software exports from Rs.5000cr. to Rs.18000cr. occupying the first place in the country.
Unlimited encouragement to new IT companies under the new ITC policy: AP Invest launched to promote new investments.
Stage set for establishing prestigious Fab City.
Expansion of IT sector to the tier-2 cities like Visakhapatnam, Warangal and Kakinada; plan for 7 IT clusters on the Outer Ring Road at Hyderabad.
Rajiv Internet village scheme introduced to take the IT benefits to villages.
Enhancement of employment opportunities to the Engineering graduates through establishment of Jawahar Knowledge Centres. Employment realization for 1 lakh people in IT sector in the last three years. Preparation of ITtrainers through Jawahar Capacity Building Centres. Provision of IT facilities and teaching at Social Welfare Hostels. Establishment of 21st Century Gurukulas to enable graduates of rural background compete with those from urban areas.
Expansion of Jawahar Knowledge Centres to Degree Colleges to ensure 50,000 candidates get employment in Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector.
Steps taken to set up broad band network to make facilities like Internet Telephone availability in villages also
Implementation of e-procurement system to avoid irregularities in filing tenders.
OMCAP - Official placement shall to help those who want employment in foreign countries.
NRI Cell established in State Secretariat.
Steps taken to set up IIIT Centres at Basara, Nuzividu and Idupulapaya.(Kadapa)
BITS (Pilani) campus proposed at Hyderabad.
Sanction sought for setting up of IIT at Kandi in A.P.
U.S. Consulate to function in Hyderabad from 2008.
Rajiv Institute of Medical Sciences (Super Specialty Hospital by Government), three new medical colleges, six new universities set up.
Andhra Pradesh is the first State to have introduced Right to Information Act.
A JawaharPharma City, Leather, Jewelry and Garments Parks, several I.T. Parks set up.
First International Airport in A.P. to become operational by 2008.
Several new welfare schemes such as Arogyasree, Bhooyagnam, Bhoobharati,
INDIRAMMA, Indira Prabha, Rajiv AbhyudayaYojana, Rajiv Swagruha etc., introduced.