A Telangana man put up a Rice ATM to supply grocery supplies to those who became jobless due to Covid-19. Here’s all you should know about Ramu Dosapati, who has been honored as The Weekend Leader – VIT Person of the Year for his selfless service
Ramu Dosapati, who founded Rice ATM, was inspired by a boyhood aspiration to serve the nation to dedicate his life to community service and to commit 50% of his income to humanitarian causes. Rice ATM is a project that was started to feed the hungry during the Covid lockdown in Hyderabad.
Ramu was recently honoured as The Weekend Leader – VIT Person of the Year at a ceremony held at VIT, Vellore.
He received a trophy, citation, and a monetary prize of Rs 25,000.
Among the dignitaries present at the ceremony were Sankar Viswanathan, and Vice President of VIT, P C Vinoj Kumar, Editor of TWL.
Ramu says, “When I was in fifth grade, I dreamed of meeting leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Bhagat Singh, and Subhash Chandra Bose during the pre-independence days. I began to believe that I had squandered a good opportunity to serve my country after that.”
Ramu also states, “I wish I had been born in 1938 rather than 1978 so that I might have been a part of the independence movement.”
He appears to have made up for it by serving during the pandemic.
Ramu had a solid work and a steady income as a senior HR professional in a Hyderabad-based software company.
But watching the plight of hungry migrant labourers and other jobless people around him moved his heart.
The Rice ATM has now been operational for over 60 days.
He began by offering prepared food to unemployed migrant labourers, but subsequently expanded to supply dry rations from a kiosk he put up outside his residence.
Ramu called the kiosk Rice ATM and kept it open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
He gave out shopping packages that included rice, daal, oil, Atta, tea powder, sugar, salt, turmeric, and a few more goods.
Initially, he used Rs 25 lakh that he had set aside to buy a home for his charitable work, and afterwards, he spent his monthly salary of close to Rs 2 lakh on running the Rice ATM.
So far, he has spent over Rs 90 lakh on the project. As the Covid situation improved, he utilised his HR skills to help some people get work, and he contributed money and materials to many more to help them start small enterprises with the support of volunteers.
Nearly 950 families have been rehabilitated with livelihoods and 1,500 people have found work as a result of Ramu’s programme, according to Ramu.
Dr. J Radhakrishnan, Tamil Nadu’s health secretary, and Dr. G Viswanathan, Chancellor of VIT, presented Ramu with the The Weekend Leader award.
Ramu confessed after receiving the prize that he had forgotten about his boyhood passion of serving society and that it was only a life-threatening accident that changed the path of his life.
He stated, “I forgot about my dream when I finished my MBA. I had gotten a job, married, and was enjoying my life until I was involved in an accident in 2006.”
Doctors warned Ramu that he might not live.
He claims that it was two years after his marriage. Ramu says, “I was worried about my family and so I told God to give me another chance, another life. In exchange for the gift of life I said I will serve the country.Then, all of a sudden, physicians stated I only required a minor surgery. I was released three days later. I never forgot my God-given promise. I made the decision to donate 50% of my time and money to society.”
Ramu began his service by raising awareness about the importance of wearing a helmet when riding a motorcycle, and one thing led to another. When the pandemic hit last year, he launched the Rice ATM.
During his speech, Dr. Radhakrishnan advised the audience, which included many VIT Business School students and faculty members, to be inspired by persons like Ramu Dosapati and acquire the art of giving.
Dr. Radhakrishnan got recognition for his participation as district collector of Thanjavur and Nagapattinam districts in relief and rehabilitation efforts following the 2004 Tsunami.
VIT Chancellor Dr. G Viswanathan asked everyone to remember and assist the underprivileged.
He claims, “I always feel like there’s a battle going on between the heart and the head.” The heart constantly screams to help someone, to give away anything you have, but the intellect says no, save it for the future, save it for your children. Usually, the brain triumphs, and only in rare circumstances, such as Ramu’s, does the heart triumph.”
The Chancellor, a two-time Parliamentarian, recalled his intimate contact with top (undivided) Andhra officials such as former President Sanjiva Reddy and former Tamil Nadu Governor Channa Reddy as a Parliamentarian.
He recounted the events surrounding the naming of the venue where the function was held after Channa Reddy. He encouraged the students to follow Ramu’s example of aiding the underprivileged, saying, “We want many more Ramu Dosapatis in this country.”