Can you imagine being a member of a country with over a hundred active TOS groups? Our Indian sisters and brothers can because they are members of one! Total individual membership of the TOS in India is over 6,000 and growing. The National Director, Mr Birendra Bhattacharyya, spends several months each year on the road visiting groups to oversee and support them in their activities. Even with a team of some 18 regional secretaries to help him, his hands are still very full.
Most of Birendra’s work is done out of the limelight. Many Theosophists around the world know of the sterling work done in or near the international TS HQ at Adyar in Chennai: the Social Welfare Centre, the Animal Dispensary, the Olcott School and the HPB Hostel for boys attending the school. Many now know of the fine environmental, medical and relief work done by the local TOS team in Chennai under the leadership of Mr Harihara Raghavan and more recently under Dr Sunita and Mr C.V.K. Maithreya. How many know of Mr Bhattacharyya’s tireless travels in the outlying regions of India, however; of his meetings with hundreds of local workers, many of whom cannot afford to travel to Adyar themselves?
The TOS in India concentrates its activity in the areas of medical and nutrition services, education for underprivileged children and mobility aids for the handicapped: canes, crutches, walkers, wheelchairs, etc. Emergency relief work is also extensive, of course. Birendra’s job is therefore multi-faceted. He meets the workers at zonal conferences and talks things over with them when they run into problems. He inaugurates new TOS groups (five in the year 2007-2008). He visits TOS schools, coaching classes, pre-primary learning centres (called Balwadi Schools), boarding establishments for the blind and for orphans, medical dispensaries as well as yoga therapy, naturopathy, acupressure, ayurvedic treatment and pranic healing centres. In visiting local groups as a special guest, Birendra does the formal presentation of educational materials and mobility aids to the needy; he distributes school uniforms, student kits, garments, study material, cooked food, scholarships to meritorious students, prizes to essay and elocution contest winners, and relief materials during natural disasters. He also inaugurates self-help projects, congratulates workers receiving awards for outstanding service to the community, and of course takes time to meet with our friends – the recipients of aid themselves.
We are very happy and grateful that Mr Bhattacharyya has accepted a second term of office (3 years from January 2008) and we extend thanks to him for his selfless work.