S. S. Moorthy Rao

Our grandfather, S.S. Moorthy was born in Pallipalayam, Tamil Nadu in 1899. Having lost his parents at the tender age of 12, he did his schooling at Karur, Tiruchi, Chennai and spent a few years at Adamaru Matha Udupi. He then joined Central College, Bangalore (now called UVCE) in 1916 studying Mechanical Engineering under Prof S.R. Rao and Prof. Tait.

He later joined the Indian Institute of Science in 1921 studying Electrical Engineering under Prof. Catterson Smith and Prof. Hays, earning what used to be called in those days a Diploma in Electrical Engineering and Fellow in Wireless Engineering. His research included pioneering work in basic components such as capacitors and electronics circuits such as Relaxation Oscillators and Gas discharge tubes.

Moorthy Rao joined the P&T and moved to Calcutta in 1926 where he spent the next decade. It was here that he became very close to Sir C.V Raman as a contemporary scientist.

He had written several papers including a paper on the theory & principle of the Radar during the World War I. He was also the inventor of the “RC Phase Shift Oscillator” and patented this invention under British rule in 1939. Recently, in 2008, during the centenary celebrations, the Archives Cell of Indian Institute of Science has named this the “Moorthy Rao RC Phase Shift Oscillator” and had graciously agreed to refer to the popular oscillator by this name in order to give credit to this great Indian inventor.

He was conferred the Title “Rao Bahadur” for his invention “Secrephone” which was invaluable to the defence during the war. He pioneered the development and manufacture of wireless equipment for the P&T. This includes components such LW tuning inductance, variometers, dustcore inductors, H.T capacitors, dual frequency duplexers and systems such as SW Transmitters, Mobile transceivers, Carrier telegraphy equipment etc. He was also responsible for installing several communication links in India and also links between India and Lahore, India and Burma, the submarine cable between India and Srilanka and Carrier Telegraphy link for Reuters.

In 1945, Moorthy Rao was elected as member IFRB and represented India at the ITU Geneva. He attended the 1st International conference held at Atlantic City in 1947. These were times when all countries were vying for frequency spectrum and using all their power to monopolize the use this precious resource frequency spectrum which led to several inconclusive meetings. It was at this time that Mr. Moorthy he proposed a comprehensive plan showing how all countries could share frequency spectrum. His proposal was accepted unanimously leading to several rounds of discussion and formation of international committees to detail and implement the proposal.

Moorthy Rao retired from P&T In 1956 as Dy. Director General. Although he still had a tenure at ITU, Geneva, he returned to Bangalore. He was instrumental in providing direction to Bharat Electronics Ltd. in its formation years as officer on special duty. In 1962, Mr. Moorthy Rao was elected Council member at Academy of Science and served on the council until 1972.

Moorthy Rao had a rare inventive genius in him. He also had several personal inventions to his credit including automatic tambura, electronic tambura, electronic B.P apparatus, remote controlled Diwali cracker to name a few. He was well read in all shastras and knew Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Gujarati and Sanskrit fluently. He was a great connoisseur of Carnatic classical music and played the flute.

After his traveling the world and the country, Moorthy Rao settled down in Bangalore and built his home at 341 Sadasivanagar. His house was truly Ishaavaasyam with not only daily Puja and other nitya karma, but also Bhiksha for various Swamijis, Paatha, Pravachanas, Homa-s, family events and other naimittika karma. In addition, he was constantly engaged in satkarma – instrumental in supporting many a scholar, artist and student with generous financial backing as well as guidance and mentoring.

Moorthy Rao also played a key role in growing Poorna Prajna Education Centre, Sadashivanagar run by the Admar Mutt Education Council – his association with Adamaru Matha goes back to his boyhood days when he spent a few years at the Matha, having lost his father at a very young age. He also looked after the school during the Paryaya of Adamaru Matha when HH Vibhudeshatheertharu was the Peetaadhipathi. For his contributions to PPEC Sadashivanagar, he was conferred the title of “Manukula Bhushana“.

Throughout this amazing life journey he was ably supported by his amazing wife Rangamma (Ranganayaki) – they were married at the tender ages of 11 and 9 and lived together for 73 years. With a traditional background and a vast collection of songs, pooja paddhati-s and fine arts in her repertoire, she was not only the anchor of the home but a source of inspiration to all. She was formally educated till 5th standard but apart from Kannada and Tamil, she could not only read, write and speak in English but also knew enough French to successfully host events with senior international diplomats during their 11 year stay in Geneva.

S S Moorthy Rao passed away on 5th May 1983, at the ripe old age of 84 leaving behind his wife Rangamma, two sons Narayana Rao and S. Krishna Rao (our father), and 2 daughters Lakshmi and Radha. Rangamma did not wait much longer without her life partner and passed away on 18th January 1984 – Paryaaya day at Udupi that HH Pejavara Visvesha Tirtharu ascended the Holy Jagadguru Madhvacharya Pitha .

Jagannath Rao & Raghunath Rao