Downtown

Gandhian institute in dire straits

The industrial school was started in 1933 in Kodambakkam and later shifted in 1946 to its current location in T. Nagar. Photos: M. Karunakaran   | Photo Credit: M_Karunakaran

Gandhian books, letters and pictures or just money – the Thakkar Bapa Vidyalaya is looking for help in any form to help a Gandhian institute, which functions on the premises of the institution, back on to its feet. Help is also sought for meeting the expenditure in replacing damaged items at an industrial school that functions there too.

It has been a month since a cataclysmic flood hit Chennai, but Thakkar Bapa Vidyala is yet to make a complete recovery.

A visit to the campus will show the amount of damage the rain has done to the institute. Everywhere, books and documents have been put out to dry, cupboards are all empty, and computers are now just showpieces.

“We are yet to settle down. Thousands of files have been lost, whatever little is left we have put out for drying. It may be months before, things could return to normality,” says P. Maruthi, secretary of the institute.

The Vidyalaya also runs an industrial school for underprivileged, and the books belonging to students have all been lost.

“We have a tailoring unit, a welding workshop, carpentry and electrical classes. The flood has damaged most of the materials and machinery. Our carpentry students had got an order to make tables and benches for a private school. All the wood we bought for the work have been rendered useless. The fridge and air-conditioner meant for conducting practical lessons for students studying to become electricians have stopped working,” he adds, saying that measuring the damage itself has become difficult as the inventory was also lost.

For the industrial school, which was started in 1933 in Kodambakkam and later shifted to its current location in T. Nagar in 1946, it is like starting from scratch.

“The institute was started as a movement to spread Gandhian values and help the underprivileged by A.V. Thakkar Bapa, Gandhiji’s close associate. Though we are affiliated to the government, we don’t receive any grant. The school is being sustained by donations offered by a few members,” says V.K. Sthanunathan, the patron of the institute.

At the Gandhi Study Centre and the library of the institute, most of the racks are empty. “We had 10,000 books on Gandhi. All of them have been lost,” says Prema in-charge of the study centre. Also, documents belonging to Harijan Sevak Sang were housed in the library along with a few rare photographs of freedom fighters.

To make a contribution, contact Maruthi at 91766 24283. The institute is at Venkatanarayana Road, T. Nagar.

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Printable version | Dec 5, 2020 8:56:33 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/downtown/Gandhian-institute-in-dire-straits/article13977012.ece

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