…and to be proud of…
RCM’s 90 Years of Service
Senior Rtn. PP N.K. Gopinath, historian of the RCM, spoke on the evening of RCM’s birth anniversary with very interesting facts, statistics about RCM’s formative years, its growth, recounting the history and the Legacy, with passion…
Excerpts from the talk
The 1920s saw an explosion of RI, the world over. Clubs were opened in Africa, Europe, Australia, Hawaii, Philippines, Japan, China, New Zealand, South America, Central America and India.
James Wheeler Davidson, born 14th June 1862, his passions were geography and tales of exploration and adventure
In 1921, James Wheeler Davidson and Colonel James Layton Ralston, avid Rotarians from Calgary, Canada travelled to Australia and New Zealand and clubs were established in Melbourne, Sydney, Wellington and Auckland.
On August 2,1928, Davidson had been appointed as Honorary General Commissioner of RI, and was commissioned to establish clubs in the Far East and Europe. The marvellous success of his 3 year sojourn established clubs in Athens, Cairo, Jerusalem, Bombay, Delhi, Madras, Colombo, Thayetmyo, Rangoon, Penang, Seremban, Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh, Singapore, Batavia, Bandoeng, Malang, Semarang, Medran, Klang, Malacca, Bangkok and Hong Kong. His travel through this perilous terrain took a huge toll on his health and died two years after his return
In 1929, big business in Madras was dominated by the closely-knit British community. Davidson decided to tackle each prospective Rotary member individually, to know whether they were interested. Davidson recommended that RI appoint Sir James as Honorary Commissioner for RI for the Middle Asia region. (Sir James had been the president of RC Calcutta between1924-26.)
In 1932, Sir James organised the first Convention of Rotary Clubs in India, Burma and Ceylon at Calcutta. The first District Conference was held during his tenure as Governor in 1937.
The first meeting of the RCM was held on 10th May1929, at the Connemara Hotel. The thirty charter members including Sir James, represented the leaders of the society and industry. All but three were present at the first meeting. The first President was Rtn.. C.G. Armstrong, Chairman Madras Port Trust and the first Secretary was Morton Chance of the hotel chain. The club was chartered on 19th July1929.
RCMs Charter Members: 27 British, 2 Swiss, 1 American
David Robilliard is a direct descendant of RCM’s Charter Member and Rtn. Dilger Gustav (Swiss). We are in touch with David who lives in Melbourne but is ninety. David has promised to come and be with us after completing the 90th year and it will be a great honour for us.
Two years after his return to Canada, Davidson died on 18th July 1933. His untiring efforts for the sake of Rotary had earned him the sobriquet ‘the Marco Polo of the Rotary’.
Today, the club is entering its 90th year with 253 members. But from its start with just thirty members, RCM has grown exponentially.
Rajah Sir MA Muthiah Chettiar and Sir Mohamed Usman, KCIE, MLC, were among the first Indian members. Sir Md Usman was the first Indian to be the president of the club in 1935-36. Other Rotary stalwarts such as Dr. P.V. Cherian, M Rathnaswamy, Dr. P. Rama Rau and D.C. Kothari were also among the first Indian members
Late PDG Dr. P. Rama Rau, became the first member of RCM to visit RI in Chicago. Paul Harris presented him with a gavel which is still in use.
In the early years, RCM was very much a club of the elite, mostly British and wealthy merchant-princes, and met every fortnight over lunch. The true Indianisation of the club began after World War II and the 1950s, when the members were predominantly Indian. Numbers continued to fluctuate to 54 in 1943, but began to climb in the 1970s, when the RI sent out a statement encouraging clubs not only to increase memberships, but to take younger members as well.
The late PDG D.C. Kothari known as D.C. joined RCM in 1935 when he was barely 24-yrs-old, and was by far the youngest of the 63-member club. In 1985, D.C. achieved 50 years of unbroken membership in the club.
A member of the RCM has the honour of belonging to the oldest club in South India, the third-oldest club in India. The club has distinguished itself in many areas, not the least of which, is having had the most number of members –17 in all – rise to the position of DG.
Being the first club South India, the RCM sponsored other clubs into being. The RCM is therefore the parent, grandparent and great-grandparent many times over, of numerous clubs. Today, there are 104 clubs in and around the city and RCM has directly sponsored seventeen of them.
RCM sponsored the formation of the IWC (started 1966) and Probus Club (1992).
Today, the RCM is growing at a rapid rate, and yet the famous saying goes ‘What matters is not the quantity in Rotary but the quantity of Rotary in each member’.
Many incredible photos and clippings were shown from the archives. The RCM proposal forms from 1929, charter members, early laurels, stalwarts of RCM and more.