G. Ram Reddy

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G Ram Reddy
Chairman of the University Grants Commission (India)
In office
1st Vice Chancellor of the
Indira Gandhi National Open University
In office
Succeeded byV C Kulandaiswamy
1st Vice Chancellor
of the Andhra Pradesh Open University
In office
12th Vice Chancellor
Osmania University
In office
1st Chairman
Social Sciences Research Council
In office
Personal details
Born(1929-12-04)December 4, 1929
Mylaram, Karimnagar district, Telangana India
Died2 July 1995(1995-07-02) (aged 65)
London, UK
Spouse(s)Smt. G Pramila Ram Reddy
ProfessionPolitical Scientist Academician

Professor G. Ram Reddy (December 4, 1929 – July 2, 1995) is renowned architect of Distance Education and the father of open learning in India.

Early Childhood

Prof. Ram Reddy was born in a small village, called Mylaram in Karimnagar district of Telangana in 1929. His father Kishta Reddy and his mother Kanthamma had little or no education.

Primary education

Like most villages in India, Mylaram barely had an elementary school, so Ram Reddy was sent to Karimnagar town for his schooling. It was here he said, that for the first time he discovered that books other than school textbooks and newspapers even existed. He became a voracious reader and a good student, and the first student from his village to have passed this exam. .

College Education

In 1949 he came to Hyderabad and joined the famous Nizam College in Osmania University. Coming from an Urdu medium, rural school, he was struggling to adjust to the urban culture and an English medium college. By 1953 Ram Reddy completed his intermediate and BA in 1955. he completed his MA in Political Science and become a lecturer in Nalgonda.

In 1957, at the age of 28, he left for London to study at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Early days as a Teacher at Osmania University (1959-1977)

In 1959, when he returned from London, he joined as a lecturer in Public Administration in Arts College. He soon became a very popular teacher.

Vice-Chancellor, Osmania University (1977-1982)

In 1977, when the position of a vice-chancellor of Osmania University fell vacant, Prof. Ram Reddy, a favorite of the teachers, students and staff became an ideal choice. At the age of 48, he was one of the youngest Vice-Chancellors of his time and the first teacher/ professor to head Osmania University. This was the late seventies, a period right after the emergency when university campuses were turbulent and filled with student protests. During this time, Prof. Ram Reddy became known for his ability to manage student protests without involving police. His accessibility, affability and democratic values endeared him to many.

Setting up the first Open University in India:

During Prof. Ram Reddy’s term as Vice Chancellor of Osmania University, the first Open University in the world, the UKOU was being established. Prof. Ram Reddy saw an immense need and possibility for the open university in India.

His dream was to establish distance education which would provide access to higher education to all.

Painstakingly he impressed on the politicians and civil servants of that time about the potential of the experiment.

He succeeded in convincing them and in 1982 set up the first open university in India, the Andhra Pradesh Open University in Hyderabad.

Setting up the National Open University

In March 1985, Prof. Ram Reddy was invited by the Government of India to prepare a blueprint for setting up a National Open University. He joined as a chief consultant, Officer on Special Duty, and in July–September that year a report was submitted to K.C.Pant, the minister for Human Resources.

          Speaking on the floor of the House while piloting the IGNOU bill, K.C.Pant remarked, “Now we have for this university as Officer on Special Duty, who is doing all work relating to the establishment of this university, Dr. Ram Reddy, an eminent educationist who was responsible for the establishment of the Andhra Pradesh Open University. We have now brought him over for the National Open University. And if I may so, there  is nobody else in the country who has his experience in this particular field… Therefore, all of us, I think, should feel quite safe in entrusting the beginning of this university to him”.

On August 20, 1985, the Upper House passed the bill to establish the Indira Gandhi National Open University. September 1985, IGNOU was established and Prof. Ram Reddy was appointed as the founder Vice-Chancellor.

On 19 November 1985, the foundation stone for IGNOU was laid by Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi

His ability to establish good relations with politicians and civil servants helped overcome the challenges in setting up a new university in a short period of time.

He travelled extensively all over India and helped establish study centers in different states. Students who did not have access to traditional institutions of higher education began to join the open university.

Soon distance education caught the attention of not only the nation but the world.

On the International Scene:

Prof. Ram Reddy began to gain recognition on the international scene. He was elected as the first Secretary General of the Association of Asian Open Universities and was an active member of the International Council for Distance Education.As India’s prominent open learning expert, he was invited to be involved in the establishment of the Commonwealth of Learning. And later was invited to join COL as its first Vice-President in 1989. As the vice-president of Commonwealth of Learning in Vancouver. His main concern in this assignment was to facilitate exchange of teaching material, skills and experience in building the open university system.

But overall he was not a happy man away from India, so when the government of India invited him to come back as the chairman of UGC, he left his lucrative and leisurely job and took up the task of heading the UGC.

Chairman, University Grants Commission

Upon his return to India in 1991 as chairman UGC, he had many issues ahead of him: relevance and quality in education. He had many ideas to improve the working of the UGC. He felt the only way to make the UGC more responsive was to decentalise it and set up regional centers.As chairman of UGC he piloted the establishment of the National Assessment and Accreditation Council to promote quality assurance in higher education in India.

His last trip to London

Prof.Ram Reddy received many academic honours and awards throughout his life time for his contribution to distance education

In June 1995, he was invited to the International Center for Distance Education conference in Birmingham, England where he was honored by the entire distance education community as the father of distance education in India. He received the ICDE Award of Excellence for his contribution to distance education.

Four days after he received the award, his life ended. He died on the evening of July 2, 1995, in London, without any of his large circle of friends or even his family around him, but in the house of an acquaintance.

Ironically, London, the place where his academic life started to blossom, the place where he discovered the idea of distance education, and where he received the highest honor became the place where the journey of his life ended. From a boy who grew up in a small village in India, where access to education was slim, to becoming a leader in education, who was instrumental in building the open university system in India, G.Ram Reddy’s contribution to democratizing education earned him the name as the father of distance education in India.


He was presented the prestigious Sri Raja-Lakshmi Foundation Award for his stupendous work in Education in 1994. In memory of his remarkable services, the Andhra Pradesh Government named the Centre of Distance Education in Osmania University as G. Ram Reddy Centre of Distance Education. Also, Prof. G. Ram Reddy Memorial Lecture was instituted in his memory by the IGNOU, New Delhi.


  • 20th Century Luminaries of Andhra Pradesh, Potti Sriramulu Telugu University, Hyderabad, 2005.

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