Ratan Tata, Chairman, Tata Trusts and GM Rao, Chairman, GMR, lighting a lamp during the valedictory function of Silver Jubilee of GMRVF
Ratan Tata, Chairman, Tata Trusts and GM Rao, Chairman, GMR, lighting a lamp during the valedictory function of Silver Jubilee of GMRVF

Rajam (Srikakulam district): Life always paints a contrasting picture, isn't it? The life of Grandhi Mallikarjuna Rao best explains it. Born on  July 14, 1950 at Rajam in the backward and far-flung Srikakulam district where seeds of naxalism or left-wing extremism were sown in this part of India when Srikakulam Peasant Uprising took place in 1960s , GM Rao, as the founder of GMR Group is popularly known, began his entrepreneurial journey with a small jute mill in this small remote town in 1978 and went on to build one of the leading infrastructure groups in the country, with presence in airports, energy, roads, transportation and urban infrastructure now. 

The world-class, sprawling Hyderabad International Airport is a glowing feather in in the crown of GMR group which has since gone global with airports projects in Turkey and Philippines. It is currently developing Goa's Greenfield international airport in Mopa.  As his group expanded and diversified into new areas and business verticals, he started giving back to his native place. Thus, Rajam, located nearly 40 km from the district headquarters, has massive educational campus called GMR Institute of Technology (GMR IT) where more than 3,500 students’ study. Established in 1997, the engineering college offers high quality education in all major engineering streams. 

GMR Varalakshmi Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation that he established 25 years ago to carry out community development activities on behalf of his group, also runs degree college, schools and institute for developing rural entrepreneurs in the sleepy town. Its Gifted Children Scheme provides free education to students from underprivileged sections of the society. It also offers healthcare services through GMR Varalakshmi CARE Hospital. Besides, it supports government schools and offers skill development programmes. In addition to building a grand temple near Rajam and taking up several other development activities in the town, the foundation also extended its corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities to 300 other villages. 

GM Rao who as jute mill owner saw poverty from close quarters cited lack of proper education, healthcare facilities and lack of motivation as the reasons for the prevalence of poverty in the country. "Providing skill and imparting education are the best tools for eradicating poverty as it changes live of an entire family forever", he said at the valedictory function of the Silver Jubilee Celebrations of GMR Varalakshmi Foundation here, in which Ratan Tata, former chairman of Tata Group, took part as chief guest.

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