We meet on every wednesday 6.30 PM at Rotary Balbhavan in Panampilly Nagar

Through The Corridors Of Time

Many people and events stand out as milestones in the chequered journey of the club. These events and people have contributed enormously to make the tapestry of the club as colourful as it is today. In fact they have given us the character it possesses, that is making Rotary Club of Cochin the beacon light of the District 3200.

The earliest in the list of people is Rtn. H.W. Bryant who as Rotary International President’s representative addressed the first interest meeting of the club held on 26th September, 1936. He said on the occasion “Rotary has grown, has been found to work amongst all peoples of the world and it was not necessary for success to have a large number of membership. Fellowship, understanding and universal peace had been promoted through Rotary Clubs everywhere and in the pursuit of those objectives, business and professional men f the East are in no way behind their brothers of the West”.

Good and impressive words indeed. These words uttered by Rotary International President William Manier’s representative inspired “16 Gentlemen assembled at the Malabar Hotel for dinner on that evening. These words prompted Mr. R.C. Bristow and later Sri R.K. Shanmukham Chetty to take the lead for starting a Rotary Club in this area, which was later to be christened as Rotary Club of Cochin State and British Cochin. They also took care that the best among the city’s gentry , both in public service and commerce was enrolled as members. The long voyage that was flagged off on that September evening continues winning many honours, conquering many hearts and spawning many clubs.

The earliest milestone in that journey was the first Community Service project of the club in August 1941 held during the presidentship of Rtn. T.K. Krishna Menon and initiated by Rtn. K. Achutha Menon. It was a benefit performance held at the Menaka Theatre ( details given elsewhere ) and the proceeds were given to the Cyclone Relief Fund of the State.

The next major impact on local community was made by the Club in 1942 through a carnival conducted in aid of the War Fund. Rtn. Pres. A.F.W. Dixon who was then the Diwan Cochin took the initiative and the carnival was held in the extensive grounds of Ram Mohan Palace which is presently the home of the High Court of Kerala. Details of this carnival has been given in the earlier chapter.

Massive eye camps initially organised at Chottanikkara and continued for many years till the early 1980s, where major community service events which mobilsed vast resources of money and men. In the course of a few days a few hundreds were operated upon for cataract and all expenses of the patient including spectacles and by- stander were completely met by the Club. Names of Rotarians G.K. Pillay, N.R. Shankar, Joseph P. Kurien, John Chackola, P.D. Arora and Thomas John are to be remembered when we write about the club’s eye camps in those days. Massive eye camps were discontinued during the period of N.R. Shanker (1980 – 81) and the current practice of having cataract operated upon in members hospitals started.

It was in 1960s that a hospital ward for women and children was built and donated by the club to the Women and Children Hospital in Mattancherry. Similarly a ward was donated to Sir Dorabjee Tata Memorial Hospital at Chottanikkara. It must be remembered that these were done at a time when participation of service organisations in such activities was unheard of. The Club can take pride that it was a trend setter in this direction.

In the 1970s a pavilion costing Rs. 60,000/- was built in the Children’s Park in Marine Drive and handed over to the District Child Welfare Council by our Club. It is still standing there as a monument of our commitment to the future generation. Career guidance visits and lectures to various institutions by our senior professional members to give ideas on careers to be pursued by new generation was a regular feature of our club in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. What the Club did in 1970s and 1980s by way of exhibitions for fund raising and housing development in Cheranallore has already been mentioned.

The present building housing Regional Cancer Detection Centre was built as a Mother and Child Facility during the presidentship of Rtn. R. Madhavan Nayar. Later through Rtn. PP M. Jairam’s personal connection with Dr. Krishnan Nair of the Regional Cancer Centre in Trivandrum an idea was mooted that if this center then run by Corporation of Cochin could be handed over to the Regional Cancer Centre, it can be converted into a Cancer Detection Centre which will be of use to the local public. Initiative for this was taken during the presidentship of Rtn. L. Vishnudas in 1983- ‘84 and Mr. K. Balachandran who was then Mayor of Cochin agreed to the proposal of handing over this building to the Cancer Centre and Rtn. Ritchie Lobo who was then Community Service Director did considerable work in redoing the place and handed it over to the Cancer Centre in Trivandrum. The place is giving aide to many many citizens and is functioning well today.

The last decade of 20th century saw a sea change in the nature of our projects with more money available by way of Matching Grants and Foundation Grants and opening up of the global informaion high way. The services have become more money oriented than people oriented. The hundreds of toilets built at Kumbalam and Pizhala, the amount spent at the Vimukthi Special School and Samrakshana initiated by Rtn. PP A.P. Mathew, the self-employment scheme conceived and implemented by Rtn. Paul John all have large financial outlays and have changed the timbre of our Community Service. Today Vocational Service visits are day long affairs. Our members, however busy they are otherwise, take time off and thoroughly enjoy the visits of this type to the business places of oher members. This has also improved fellowship to a considerable extent and these have developed personal bond between the individual members.

As the period of our chronicle draws to a close , one seemingly irresistible force has come to dominate peoples lives, hopes and fears - globalisation. Signals of this force have accompanied our activities for sometime and there are indications that we may move towards a universal culture. Today Rotarians also cannot think without the context of the entire globe. We also have to learn to think globally to respond to an increasingly global reality. The social conflict of the new century will thus be new in nature. “Law and Order” will dominate the scene within countries and social conflicts will be transposed into individual actions. This will mean that the new conflict will be more moral than economic. Mankind always has a disconcerting way of acting only when the clock strikes twelve. It solves problems which are upon us, but not those which expressly anticipate for the future. Should Rotary and Rotarians take the initiative ?

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