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close this book Development as Unleashing Potential Efforts : the Bhagavatula Charitable Trust (BCT) of Yellamanchili in Andhra Pradesh (1995)
close this folder Section 1 BCT and its activities
View the document 1.1 An idea tested
View the document 1.2 Setting an example to emulate - salt making and fish farming
View the document 1.3 Cooperative sugar factory - a non starter
View the document 1.4 Bhagavatula Charitable Trust (BCT) born
View the document 1.5 Reaching people through their own organisation
View the document 1.6 BCT Activities: Community Organisation

1.1 An idea tested

In 1967, Dr B V Parameswara Rao, 34 years old, with a Ph.D. in nuclear science from USA, returned to his native village Dimili in Yellamanchili taluka of the Visakhapatnam district "wanting to do something" for the people of his village. He earlier worked with BARC as Scientific Officer. He began by getting the villagers to build a high school for their children, who were then attending a school atYellamanchili which is five miles away. Considering that Dimili had a primary school from 1834, it was difficult to explain why it had to wait for so long to have a high school.

Dr Rao approached the local legislator and he said," We could not collect Rs 135 for the festival of village deity... Dimili is not United States Of America." Dr Rao recalls that there was opposition on the ground that money would, as usual, be misused. Having convinced the richest and the most tight-fisted man in the village about the purpose being genuine, convincing the rest of the villagers was easy.

After initial difficulties characterised by apathy, distrust and rivalry, the villagers collected Rs 40,000 from Dimili and Rs 30,000 from neighbouring villages. The US Peace Corps in Hyderabad donated $ 2500 and an old man in the village donated 3 cents of land. A Bombay architect prepared the plans, free of charge, for a functional, low cost structure which was ready by June 1968. But then the government of Andhra Pradesh suddenly withdrew permission to private parties to start schools.

The school started functioning in late 1968, but it took two years of intense effort with the state government which included calling on Chief Minister and Governor to get the normal grant-in-aid status for it. The school received ad-hoc grants from the state government to pay the staff till 1976 and then it was handed over to the zilla parishad.

"The struggle was worth it. It showed that people’s aspirations were attainable by voluntary means and a technique was tested", says Dr Rao.