Dr. V. Agnihothrudu : 1930-1999
A native of the West Godavary district of Andhra Pradesh, Dr. Agnihothrudu grew up in Madras where his father was in service, and he had his entire education in Madras, right from schooling. He passed his B.Sc. (Hons.) in Botany from Presidency College in 1950 with a first class and first rank in Madras University. He then went on to take his Ph.D. in 1954 from Madras University Botany Department under the guidance of Prof. T.S. Sadasivan, working on the microflora of soil and the rhizosphere. This was followed by a brief post-doctoral stint in the same department, during which Dr. Agnihothrudu became interested in Myxomycetes and published a series of beautifully illustrated papers under the title. "Some slime-moulds from Southern India".
In 1955, Dr. Agnihothrudu moved over to Assam as Mycologist in the Tocklai Experimental station of the Indian Tea Association. The Mycologist in him blossomed in the tea gardens of Assam, and he published a series of papers on the various fungi that he found there, apart from Myxomycetes. These were in the nature of a hobby, while he concentrated primarily on the diseases of tea. Based on his findings on Tea diseases, he prepared a thesis for which he was awarded the D.Sc. degree of Madras University. This was unique distinction, so far achieved only by a few full-time academics working in the University.
In 1964, Dr. Agnihothrudu left Assam came down to Bangalore, as Technical Advisor to Rallis India Ltd., Pesticides Division. During his tenure with Rallis up to 1985 first as Technical Advisor and later as Director of Research, Dr. Agnihothrudu became an expert on diseases of plantation crops and their management, especially on the usage and residual effects of fungicides and pesticides.
From 1985 onwards, Dr. Agnihothrudu worked as Director of Tea Research Institute of the United Planters Association of Southern India, and also as consultant to several chemical companies, in India and abroad. He was also a member of various selection Boards and of Committees focusing on problems of plantation crops and pesticides. He attended and chaired sessions in various international conferences on these topics.
As a person Dr. Agnihothrudu was charming, and humane in his dealing with people. His wit and charm were infectious. With his demurely beautiful wife Indira, his lively son Subramanyeswar and his devoted cook Rao, he has a happy home which was always open to visiting friends and relatives.
Dr. Agnihothrudu's published papers on the subjects of his interest number over 350. His monograph on pesticide residues has been published by Rallis India.