Khammam: As the memories of ‘Janata Curfew’ and the nation-wide lockdown triggered by the coronavirus outbreak haunt the nation, it is apt to remember the work of a few individuals who rose to the occasion and made a difference by reaching out to the needy. One of them is Annam Srinivas Rao, founder of the Annam Seva Foundation, who heroically broke barriers and put his life at risk to serve the society when Covid-19 crisis was at its peak.
From serving migrant labourers by providing them with food and shelter to as performing last rites of the victims of coronavirus, Srinivas Rao played many roles. Once he travelled as far as Malkangiri in Odisha to take a pregnant labourer to her native place.
Srinivas Rao was and still a man in demand whenever funeral rites of Covid victims have to be performed as the family members of the deceased often shied away from their responsibility due to the fear of getting infected. He performed final rites of around 500 persons of all religions in erstwhile Khammam, Nalgonda and Warangal and also helped in transporting bodies of persons from Hyderabad to their native place for their final rest.
His selfless services nearly cost his life as he was tested positive for the virus in July last. Yet the resilient sexagenarian defeated the disease at the age of 63 and resumed his good works much to the relief of many of his admirers here. “When I was on the hospital bed along with my wife, who was also infected with the Covid-19, the only thing that troubled me was to be confined to the hospital when the society needed me the most”, Srinivas Rao told Telangana Today.
When he was in the hospital, his well-wishers and followers have offered prayers for his speedy recovery and put up flex banners all over Khammam, showing their affection for the humanitarian. “The Covid-19 crisis has taken human relations to the lowest level. I felt sad at finding families abandoning their loved died of Covid. I am happy for being able to give a final farewell to the dead in an honourable manner,” he noted.
Srinivas Rao also invited the wrath of locals when he tried to perform final rites at a funeral ground in Khammam. ‘Many times I needed police assistance to do my work duly following religious customs of the deceased”, he said.
He also engaged himself in admitting the Covid-19 patients to hospitals and taking them back to their homes after recovery in his ambulance. He also motivated villagers to be compassionate towards Covid-19 patients and their families.
Awards and recognition
Srinivas Rao, who is also the president of Lions Club of Khammam Gold, has received several national and international awards in recognition of his services. His reputation as a humanist has spread over many continents. TORi, (TeluguOne Radio On Internet), a USA-based Telugu entertainment portal in the first week of March telecast his interview in UK, US, Australia and India.
A documentary film depicting the life and services of Srinivas Rao was made by director and producer Bharata Jagadeswarrao. Recently he has been selected for ‘Mana Telugu Tejam Legendary Award’ which would be presented to him on April 9 in Hyderabad as part of the birth centenary celebrations of former Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao.