Extraordinary men touch the lives of millions of people in a special way and are remembered long after they are gone. Dr YS Rajasekhara Reddy is one such colossus. He was a visionary, statesman, a gifted orator, endowed with rare skills of leadership. Combined with all these attributes, his large heartedness and generosity were legendary. No wonder people worship him to this day in many parts of both the Telugu speaking states.
Yeduguri Sandinti Rajasekhara Reddy fondly known as YSR, was a man whose heart beat for the common citizens of the state. His vision transcended narrow boundaries of caste, creed and language. The many schemes and projects he initiated in his tenure are remembered as model ones worthy of emulation.
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Most notable among Dr YSR's schemes were Arogyasri, the universal healthcare initiative and the fee reimbursement scheme. It was his ardent belief that the empowerment of poor students was the cornerstone of development. It was this single-mindedness of purpose that underscored his focus on the fee reimbursement scheme through which thousands of poor students belonging to deprived sections of society, benefitted greatly. During the course of the current Leader of Opposition and Dr YSR's son YS Jagan Mohan Reddy's Praja Sankalpa Yatra, hundreds of people have narrated their own experience of how the fee reimbursement scheme empowered them with education.
Arogyasri was a pioneering healthcare initiative which was one of its kind. Other states took the cue from Andhra Pradesh and put the scheme in place. The poorest of the poor and the weakest of the weak had access to the best of healthcare facilities thanks to YSR's vision. There are countless real life stories of lives saved on account of timely medical intervention, thanks to Arogyasri coverage.
Dr YSR knew that water was the lifeline of the people of the state—be it agriculturist or the people at large. To harness the existing water resources, he decided to put a viable, comprehensive plan in place under the rubric of Jalayagnam. The idea was to bring about 82 lakh acres of land under irrigation. It was YSR who envisioned the need for irrigation projects to meet the needs of farmers and also ensure drinking water supply to many parched regions of the state.
Jalayagnam encompassed life irrigation projects and construction of reservoirs to ensure that farmers benefit to the fullest especially at a time when farmer suicides were on the rise. The underlying idea was to make wastelands cultivable by bringing them under irrigation and agriculture.
The Indiramma housing scheme, yet another dream project of Dr YSR was a plan to provide a roof to every single poor citizen of the state. The sheer scope and scale of the housing scheme had no parallel in the history of Andhra Pradesh.
The vision underpinning YSR's governance was a human touch to administration. He believed that unless you reach out to the lowest stratum of society and empathise with the poorest individual, you cannot move towards progress in the true sense of the term. It was this vision, tempered with generosity and empathy which endeared him to the masses in whose hearts he dwells to this day.