On Ist July, 1962, late Smt. Padmaja Naidu, the then Governor of West Bengal laid the Foundation Stone of the Nitish Chandra Laharry Children's Library, which became a very popular centre for children who did not have access to such facilities. From the early 80s, the office bearers and members of the Club tried very hard to get the lease of the plot of land renewed. Success came on 26th March, 1987 when the lease was renewed by the Government of West Bengal. The Club decided to extend the building and add another floor, primarily for providing further facilities to the deprived children. R.I. President Rtn. Rajendra K. Saboo laid the Foundation Stone of the Rotary Sadan on 20th April, 1992.
In November 1993, the lease of the land was renewed by the Government of West Bengal for another ten years with an option for ten more years. The sanctioned building plans were received in June 1994 and the construction started at a hectic speed. The building construction was completed in June 1995. The Rotary Sadan was formally inaugurated on 28th January, 1997 by Past Rotary International President Rtn. Rajendra K. Saboo.
The main funds for the project came from a number of generous donors, sponsors and members of the Club. The activity centres were named after the major donors in grateful acknowledgement of their invaluable contributions. There is Shripati Singhania Hall, an air-conditioned auditorium, the B. P. Poddar Foundation Hall and the Mody Foundation Hall, both air-conditioned Exhibition cum Seminar Halls, the Children's Corner and playground named after the Bhuwalka Janakalyan Trust, the Apeejay Surrendra Hall, housing the NCL Children's Library and the magnificent Rotary Archives, the HDFC Room, the Gokul Chand Bangur Foundation Hall, an air-conditioned Meeting Room and the like.
On a main thoroughfare of Kolkata, Chowringhee Road, is an imposing building–Rotary Sadan, the home of Rotary Club of Calcutta. The building stands out as a rare specimen of architectural elegance combined with functionality. Of the 32,300 odd Rotary Clubs of the world, not many own their own buildings. Meetings are held in public premises like hotels, schools, clubs or halls and auditoriums of various societies. Rotary club of Calcutta is one of the rare exceptions. It not only holds its own weekly meetings, fellowship meets and annual and periodical functions in its own home, t shares the facilities with other Rotary Clubs allowing them to use its auditorium and meeting rooms for their meetings, events and installation programs. The main attraction of the Sadan, as one enters the building is a well appointed 250 seat auditorium. This is the place where members of the club meet every week for the club weekly meetings. The auditorium houses our club functions, it invites a speaker of eminence every week to share his particular area of expertise and interest with the Rotarians of the club to increase the level of awareness in the Rotarians’ minds. The Rotarians learn, deriving ideas from a whole range of eclectic discourses. This broadens their outlook, enhances their awareness of societal needs and helps them find newer avenues to serve better. This is also the place where other clubs can have their installations and other important meets. Several meeting rooms alongside the corridor that leads to the auditorium, are very important places where different committees, which are the working arms of the club, can meet , deliberate and take critical decisions regarding the club and the committee welfare activities.
But the Sadan does not end here. How many of us Rotarians take a peek at what goes on in the first floor of the Sadan, day in and day out. The placid, solemn and serious atmosphere of the ground floor auditorium is not the full story of Rotary Sadan. What misses our eyes is the quiet revolution that is going on in the first floor. Perhaps because we have never documented it the way history should be chronicled. Exciting and near frenetic activities go on in this floor almost all days of the week. Look anywhere and you are deluged by ebullient actions of all types. Training classes for yoga, singing, dancing, art, debate, poems, reading, computers, speaking in the king's language and more. Cheerful and energetic activities pursued with vigor follow you whichever way you look at and all six days of the week.
What is most important is that all activities are for the children of under privileged class who left on their own would never be able to partake any of these activities Children, aged 5 to 18, are helped to develop their natural talent, to enhance their skills, to try and experiment with newer avenues of opportunity. In short to equip them with the tools of self confidence and ability that will empower them to face life with courage and conviction. If society has denied them equal opportunity, Rotary is reaching out to to make it up for them.
How many of us know that the Sadan houses a full fledged reading room and lending library on the first floor of Rotary Sadan with about 8,000 books on its catalogue. Special facility is available for borrowing school text books for classes nine, to twelve, the crucial school years. in all streams of learning - science, arts and commerce. Seven / eight sets of such books are kept so that help can reach multiple number of needy students. The library serves 330 young members.
Eleven streams of cultural activities are mounted every week by the cultural section - starting from Yoga as part of physical development to Rabindra sangeet & classical Hindusthani, tabla and guiter/synthesizer, Orissi, Bharat Natyam & Folk dance, Drawing & painting ( simple sketches to water colour and oil), drama and recitation. It helps as many as 323 young & ardent students to flower into their chosen areas of cultural acumen. This is not all.
The first floor also houses computer training classes for the young adults in rudimentary and advanced computer learning. In association with the renowned CMC Ltd. Rotary Club of Calcutta provides to the young people the cutting edge to success in life. The training is completely free of cost. They learn IT-MS office and internet which can fetch a job for them. In the job market they can serve in the front office, back office as data processors, computer operators, data converters and the like. What has been added additionally are courses like ‘C’ programming and financial accounting (FA 16) which have already started gaining popularity with 26 students having been trained up successfully.
Starting from June 2004, till date 411 students have completed the computer course and received the valuable qualification certificate from CMC Ltd.
Rotary club of Calcutta further realised that these young adults are the people who will soon embark in the very competitive job market, where ability to communicate in English would be of critical importance. Conversational English classes are therefore being held in association with the vastly experienced and reputed British Institute of Engineering & Technology (I) Ltd. Our objective being that the students will be empowered not only with computing skill but also with communication skill.
Good grooming very largely differentiates between good and better results ,between success and failure in life. The importance of grooming, posture, communication, body language, attitude, expression cannot be ignored in building up young individuals. All these soft skills are imparted in Personality Development course run at the Sadan for the Computer / Spoken English students. They are taken through interview techniques, simulated situations of mock interviews to show how to face an interviewer and how to carry oneself through the interview. In essence each student is guided to bring out the best in him, the latent potentials that lie in him. Personality development program is carried out with the help of experts from the Bhawanipur Institution. It will be noticed that the club always tries to tie up with the best available resource in each area to derive ideas and fall back on expertise available with the various sources.
If one takes stock of the range of activities in Rotary Sadan in a full year, the picture that emerges is astounding. On a regular basis there are over 1100 footfalls every week for the computer, spoken English and cultural activity classes. This is without counting the library users ( library has 330 members), the personality development course and other one off training courses.
Rotary Sadan houses as many as 52 regular classes every week , 12 for cultural activities,24 for computer training, 16 for spoken English This is a staggering figure for any mind to comprehend. The placid atmosphere of the ground floor of Rotary Sadan does not tell this story of immense activity, energy and creative enterprise that the first floor is humming with
The Rotary Club of Calcutta is marshalling its forces to make the under-privileged children a part of the emerging global hub. Like the “Incredible India” image for our country will we be able to create an “Incredible Rotary” image for our club?