Mylapore Downtown

SYMA is here to stay, says Ramani

One big family: A story of how a temple tank brought many youngsters together to serve the neighbourhood. Photo: K.V. Srinivasan   | Photo Credit: K_V_Srinivasan

Triplicane was quiet between 1982 and 1986, with hardly any major activity. That was because Srinivas Young Men’s Association (SYMA) had gone into hibernation with the youngsters having found jobs and left the city. Doesn’t that sum up what SYMA means to Triplicane?

In 1977, a group of spirited youngsters, in their early 20s, started SYMA, which remains a glowing example of neighbourbood activism and reform.

From cleaning the Parthasarathy Swami temple tank and distributing school uniforms to underprivileged children to creating awareness about construction of rainwater harvesting structures, the Association has today left a legacy for the younger generation to uphold.

“We were young, bold and filled with the spirit of volunteerism, having seen our seniors take part in temple festivals. We were motivated by the elders in the area to do something for society,” recalls T.J. Ramani, who along with T.S. Srinath, J. Venkatesan and N. Pattabhiraman revived the activities of the Association after the four-year hiatus.

Before that, starting from August 14, 1977, they were creating a buzz in the neighbourhood cleaning the footsteps of the temple, inviting stalwarts in cricket such as S. Venkatesan and M. J. Gopalan to play cricket at the temple tank and musician T.S. Balakrishna Sastrigal to perform.

“As most of us found jobs and some left the city, we could not carry the activities for some time. But the will to serve society, forged by encouragement given to us by our seniors, remained,” recalls Ramani.

Along with T. Rajagopalan, R.V. Narasimhan, N. Ganapathi, R.S. Ramanujam (founder-president), T.J. Vijayakumar, L. Muralidharan and K. Soundararajan, Ramani had started the Association.

Back with a bang

After the lull, the group came back with a vengeance. They began by cleaning the roads on Sundays, and then slowly extending their activities to other civic works.

The medical centre was started in 1988 to provide subsidised health care (a token amount of Rs. 3 is collected from patients) for the downtrodden.

Cricket on the sands of the beach was another binding factor, it also encouraged many youngsters to join the Association. The ban on beach cricket disappointed many of them at first, but they came around to realising what a good move it was.

“The base of our Association was very strong. Whether it was a campaign to raise funds for a cause or participation in a neighbourhood event, we fully launched ourselves into it. We do not see the same enthusiasm in today’s youth,” says Ramani. Ten years ago, Rs, 10,000 was enough to run its activities. Today, it spends around Rs. 14 lakh a year for its various philanthropic initiatives. The public toilet near the temple, for instance, incurs an expense of Rs. 3,000 a month for maintenance.

“Although we did not focus our activities beyond the neighbourhood, many organisations including Lions Club and Rotary Club have taken the cue from us and followed a few of our initiatives,” says R.V. Narashimhan, one of the founders.

Newer initiatives such as SYMA Child Fest (inter-school competitions), GROWTH (free tuition centre for underprivileged children) promises to be the future of SYMA, as they hope to bring more youngsters into the fold. The members of SYMA, which complete 37 years on August 14, say they are planning to play a long inning.

“Whatever starts in Triplicane continues for ever. The Triplicane Cultural Academy is more than 50 years old and the Parthasarathy Swami Sabha is over 100 years old. SYMA is also here to stay,” adds Ramani. Visit them at www.syma.in or at 29, TP Koil Street. Phone: 9940086033, 99400 86026


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Printable version | Jul 25, 2021 6:24:00 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/downtown/syma-is-here-to-stay-says-ramani/article6114509.ece

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