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Bala Mandir Kamaraj Trust

 
 
 
Key Contributors
Distressed with the plight of orphan and destitute and abandoned children in the post independence era and inspired by Mahatma Gandhi and along with Late Sri.K.Kamaraj, Smt.S.Manjubhashini established Bala Mandir on 10th March 1949.
In recalling the services to Bala Mandir of our 3 Founders we would like to record that:
Thiru.Kamaraj

Thiru.Kamaraj as President of Bala Mandir involved himself in all its activities despite his onerous responsibility in public and political life. No problem of Bala Mandir was too small for his personal attention and every child was his very own.

PERUNTHALAIVAR THIRU.K.KAMARAJ:

PERUNTHALAIVAR THIRU.K.KAMARAJ:

Bala Mandir may be described as the outcome of the compassion felt by Kamaraj when 2 abandoned new-borns were brought to him to the model hut in the Congress Grounds one day – way back in March 1949. That was the beginning of Bala Mandir.

The spirit of Kamaraj envelops the entire Bala Mandir complex. Kamaraj appears to have emerged out of the masses, his personality reflecting his ruggedness, the simplicity and the astuteness of the peasants, as also their innate maturity. His insight and courage and capacity for quick decisions, spelled over the years of his leadership, the growth of Bala Mandir.

Few leaders established such rapport with the masses and few articulated their sorrows, their difficulties and their aspirations so authentically as Kamaraj. Most of what Kamaraj did and achieved as a leader and administrator par-excellence was motivated by his humanity, his compassion, his intuitive understanding of the sufferings of the poor, the deprived, the orphaned. Bala Mandir is an expression of these great human qualities of Kamaraj.

In his address in 1978, when Bala Mandir was dedicated to the memory of Kamaraj - President of India, Dr.N.Sanjeeva Reddy pointed out: I quote :

“What was the secret of Kamarajji’s success ?

Was he a highly educated man ? - No, he had only studied upto Std V.

Was he a rich man ? – No - Kamaraj never locked his house because there was nothing else there, nothing valuable except the transparency and sanctity of an honest man.

The secret of his success was his sincere work, honesty & integrity………

How then shall we honour the memory of Kamaraj ?

One, Kamaraj loved all the poor people – he wanted something done for them. Bala Mandir children are Kamaraj’s children though he was unmarried. He loved them and brought them here to be brought up as good citizens of this nation.

The second was his integrity and honesty – Kamaraj was a poor man who became so powerful not only in his state but in the whole country – he remained poor and died poor” – unquote.

It is these ideals which our Founder epitomised, loved and breathed.

A rare Gandhian indeed ! Everybody talks of high ethical values, everybody preaches them. Kamaraj never spoke about them – he practised them.

He closely monitored through constant involvement, the growth and development of Bala Mandir in the first 25 years. No doubt, the task was entrusted to Smt.Manjubhashini, our beloved Amma, to whom K.Kamaraj’s word was law. He was involved, step by step, with every improvement, acquisition of land, building and the children and workers. He chaired the meetings and in his inimitable way ended most of them with the word “Paarkalaam”. He moved around the length and breadth of the property and despite his busy schedules as Chief Minister of the State and later, President of the Indian National Congress – Bala Mandir, its growth and its problems always had top priority.

For the hundreds of orphan and destitute children and the thousands of school children under the care of Bala Mandir Kamaraj Trust – the character and personality of Perunthalaivar Kamaraj is that of a unique Human, loving Father, an Ideal Indian – to be emulated by one and all.

May his loving glance be ever on our children and may his ideals of true service, humility and dedication always be our source of inspiration, in our endeavour to brighten the lives of those in need.

Mr.Ramnath Goenka

Mr.Ramnath Goenka was closely involved with the founding and running of Bala Mandir in the early years and till date members of his family continued to serve the institution.

Ms.S.Manjubhashini

Ms.S.Manjubhashini or Manjumma as she was fondly known was the guiding light of Bala Mandir till her passing away in 1996. For nearly 5 decades Bala Mandir was a daily pilgrimage and even at 90 and in failing health, work at Bala Mandir “the temple for children” was worship – evidently a life time commitment to the cause of children.

Bala Mandir over the years under her able guidance had grown like a Banyan tree into a premier welfare organization sheltering 1000’s of orphan, destitute and deprived children and spreading its branches from the core service of child care into rehabilitation, educational, vocational and medical programmes.

S.MANJUBHASHINI - 1906-1996

S.MANJUBHASHINI - 1906-1996

Manjubhashini, called Rajamma at home, was born on September 24, 1906 into a conservative, illustrious and affluent family. After having studied upto Std.VIII in the Presidency Girls School in Egmore, she was married at the tender age of 12, to Mr.Subramaniam,, who went on to become a Lawyer and later Judge of the Madras High Court. Manjubhashini was keen to complete her school education and supported by her husband went on to complete her S.S.L.C.

From her childhood itself, Manjubhashini was caught in the hypnotic spell of Gandhiji’s call for freedom and soon after her 24th Birthday – this young mother of 4 children –. - ‘Manjumma’ flung aside the comforts of hearth and home and threw herself into India’s freedom struggle, bravely courting imprisonment in Quit India Movement- 1942.

  • She participated in the burning of foreign goods at Thambu Chetty Street along with Durgabai Deshmukh, in the Salt Satyagraha organized by Rajaji at Vedaranyam.
  • She spent 1 ½ years as a detenue in Vellore Jail along with Ammu Swaminathan. When, in 1941-42, hundreds of Indians were forced out of Burma, she organized a camp in Madras for the refugees and helped rehabilitate them.
  • With her hurricane lamp of love Manjumma was like India’s Khadi-clad Florence Nightingale, even as she tended the refugees.

Before plunging herself in social welfare activities, she was a very

  • Active member in the National Movement in T.Nagar,
  • Representing the Women’s Section of the Congress
  • Incharge of arranging meetings, conferences
  • Enrolling women members, canvassing votes for candidates etc.

She organized and trained the 10,000 strong Sevadal (women volunteers) of the Congress. When Gandhiji visited Madras at the Hindi Prachar Sabha, she organized his prayer meeting and took responsibility for the food arrangements.

She and her volunteers worked for five whole days totally devoted to their duties.

After her release from jail in 1943, she decided to take up constructive social service as indicated to her by Mahatma Gandhi. She had long felt the need for a home for destitute and abandoned children. At that time except for some Missionary institutions involved in this humanitarian service there were virtually very few institutions in Tamil Nadu of this type being run by any other service organization.

Encouraged by Shri.K.Kamaraj she got Bala Mandir registered in 1949 and started out with two children in two cottages in the Congress Grounds. An initial donation of Rs.10,000/- formed the nucleus fund. She was able to enlist the interest of other prominent persons like Shri.Ramnath Goenka, Shri.T.R.Venkataraman Sastriar, Dr.U.Krishna Rao, Mrs.A.V.Kuttimalu Ammal, Mr.Suryanarayana Rao, M.L.C., Mrs.Saroj Goenka etc. who formed the first working committee, with Shri.Kamaraj as President till he passed away in 1974 and herself as Honorary General Secretary till her passing in 1996. She was also able to inspire several social workers to devote their time to Bala Mandir.

It is not too much to claim that Mrs.Manjubhashini was a pillar of Bala Mandir, a guiding spirit under whose leadership the institution has grown to this extent and has All India recognition. Almost single-handedly in the initial stages, she took up this task, overcame many difficulties and frustrations and made it a success. Over the years, under her able guidance, Bala Mandir has grown like a ‘Banyan Tree’ into a Premier National Welfare Organisation sheltering and caring for thousands of children.

over the years, and spreading its branches into Educational, Vocational and Rehabilitation and health programmes.

Besides being the main spirit for the creation of such a large and useful organization, she had involved herself in many other activities as well. She was responsible for the starting of the Hindustan Scouts Association in Madras and had served the organization as Honorary Secretary for several years. She founded the Tamil Nadu Branch of the Indian Council for Child Welfare and served the organization for several years as its Honorary Secretary. She was also convenor of the Women’s India Association, and a member of the Madras Legislative Council for 12 years.

Always clad in simple white khadi, she made Bala Mandir her daily pilgrimage for nearly 50 years. Even at 90, and in failing health, ‘Work at Bala Mandir was Worship’ – evidently a life time commitment to a cause. Come rain or shine, you could find her in the Bala Mandir campus daily, administering to the needs of the children.

The happiness of hundreds of Bala Mandir children whose parents failed to or could not bring them up, is testimony to what a good cause could achieve in the hands of a capable and devoted administrator.

A selfless and dedicated Social Worker, she always chose to stay way from publicity and limelight, she donated the entire cash proceeds of the Government of India National Award and Rajiv Gandhi Memorial Award which she received to Bala Mandir. She was the 1st recipient of the Central Government Award for Child Welfare and it was one of the few awards she accepted on behalf of Bala Mandir.

Her command over language and Accountancy – despite only being S.S.L.C. was remarkable and stunned many an administrator and Auditor.

Her success was marked by her outstanding decisiveness, which included the conviction and courage to take decisions to ensure the best for her children, even against the current of opposition.

Other Eminent Personalities
The other eminent personalities who have served as Patrons to whom we owe a debt of gratitude are:
Mr.Govind Swaminadhan
Mr.Govind Swaminadhan,eminent Lawyer and Jurist who served as the President of Bala Mandir from ’78 to ‘95 and his involvement is a standing testimony to his concern for the children in need.
Mr.T.T.Vasu
Mr.T.T.Vasu both as member and Trustee and later as President has served the Institution from the very early years of its inception for almost 4 decades and was closely involved with most of the expansion activities of Bala Mandir.
Ms.Saroj Goenka
Ms.Saroj Goenka worked as Joint Treasurer from the very beginning and involved herself personally and lent her unstinting support during the first 3 decades of running Bala Mandir.
Mrs. K. Vedam
Mrs. K. Vedam joined Bala Mandir in 1981 after a successful tenure in Social Welfare Board. For almost two decades she played a significant role in the growth of Bala Mandir especially in the area of adoption and vocational training.
Mrs. Lakshmi Krishnamurthy
Mrs. Lakshmi Krishnamurthy, daughter of freedom fighter Satyamurthi, served as trustee and president of the school committee. She was responsible for the setting up of Satyamurthi school and bringing it up to achieve great heights.
Mr. V.Y. Gaitonde
Mr. V.Y. Gaitonde was an integral part of Bala Mandir for almost six decades and was the driving force behind all major milestone projects. He played many important roles including that of the first Principal of ITC, Treasurer, Trustee etc., Above all this, he was the favourite of all the children and related to them in his own special way as their "Balu sir".
Dr. S. Anandalakshmy
Dr S Anandalakshmy was President of Bala Mandir Kamaraj Trust for a brief period from 2017 till her demise in 2019. Through the years, Bala Mandir, especially the Research Foundation, was very fortunate to have had her expertise and experience with child psychology and child development to advise on the Institution's different projects. With her background in teaching and setting up a school, and her research in the areas of the Girl Child, Cognitive Development in Early Childhood and Socialization, her ability to steer Bala Mandir’s vision was unique.
Mr. V. Sethuraman
Mr. V. Sethuraman, was associated with Bala Mandir from the early 1950s and served as the Treasurer and then as the President of Bala Mandir Kamaraj Trust from 1992 to 2017. He was always generous and supportive. Through his good offices the Indian Fine Art Society held their December Cultural Festival in the Bala Mandir German Hall for over 30 years.
Many service minded individuals have from time to time rendered yeoman human service to the cause of Bala Mandir and each in their own immeasurable way have left an indelible mark on the functioning and service activities of the Institution.