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Bala Mandir Kamaraj Trust


Manjubhashini, called Rajamma at home, was born on September 24, 1906 into a conservative, illustrious and affluent family. After having studied upto Std.VIII in the Presidency Girls School in Egmore, she was married at the tender age of 12, to Mr.Subramaniam,, who went on to become a Lawyer and later Judge of the Madras High Court. Manjubhashini was keen to complete her school education and supported by her husband went on to complete her S.S.L.C.

From her childhood itself, Manjubhashini was caught in the hypnotic spell of Gandhiji’s call for freedom and soon after her 24th Birthday – this young mother of 4 children –. - ‘Manjumma’ flung aside the comforts of hearth and home and threw herself into India’s freedom struggle, bravely courting imprisonment in Quit India Movement- 1942.

  • She participated in the burning of foreign goods at Thambu Chetty Street along with Durgabai Deshmukh, in the Salt Satyagraha organized by Rajaji at Vedaranyam.
  • She spent 1 ½ years as a detenue in Vellore Jail along with Ammu Swaminathan. When, in 1941-42, hundreds of Indians were forced out of Burma, she organized a camp in Madras for the refugees and helped rehabilitate them.
  • With her hurricane lamp of love Manjumma was like India’s Khadi-clad Florence Nightingale, even as she tended the refugees.
Before plunging herself in social welfare activities, she was a very
  • Active member in the National Movement in T.Nagar,
  • Representing the Women’s Section of the Congress
  • Incharge of arranging meetings, conferences
  • Enrolling women members, canvassing votes for candidates etc.
She organized and trained the 10,000 strong Sevadal (women volunteers) of the Congress. When Gandhiji visited Madras at the Hindi Prachar Sabha, she organized his prayer meeting and took responsibility for the food arrangements.
She and her volunteers worked for five whole days totally devoted to their duties.
After her release from jail in 1943, she decided to take up constructive social service as indicated to her by Mahatma Gandhi. She had long felt the need for a home for destitute and abandoned children. At that time except for some Missionary institutions involved in this humanitarian service there were virtually very few institutions in Tamil Nadu of this type being run by any other service organization.

Encouraged by Shri.K.Kamaraj she got Bala Mandir registered in 1949 and started out with two children in two cottages in the Congress Grounds. An initial donation of Rs.10,000/- formed the nucleus fund. She was able to enlist the interest of other prominent persons like Shri.Ramnath Goenka, Shri.T.R.Venkataraman Sastriar, Dr.U.Krishna Rao, Mrs.A.V.Kuttimalu Ammal, Mr.Suryanarayana Rao, M.L.C., Mrs.Saroj Goenka etc. who formed the first working committee, with Shri.Kamaraj as President till he passed away in 1974 and herself as Honorary General Secretary till her passing in 1996. She was also able to inspire several social workers to devote their time to Bala Mandir.

It is not too much to claim that Mrs.Manjubhashini was a pillar of Bala Mandir, a guiding spirit under whose leadership the institution has grown to this extent and has All India recognition. Almost single-handedly in the initial stages, she took up this task, overcame many difficulties and frustrations and made it a success. Over the years, under her able guidance, Bala Mandir has grown like a ‘Banyan Tree’ into a Premier National Welfare Organisation sheltering and caring for thousands of children.

over the years, and spreading its branches into Educational, Vocational and Rehabilitation and health programmes.

Besides being the main spirit for the creation of such a large and useful organization, she had involved herself in many other activities as well. She was responsible for the starting of the Hindustan Scouts Association in Madras and had served the organization as Honorary Secretary for several years. She founded the Tamil Nadu Branch of the Indian Council for Child Welfare and served the organization for several years as its Honorary Secretary. She was also convenor of the Women’s India Association, and a member of the Madras Legislative Council for 12 years.

Always clad in simple white khadi, she made Bala Mandir her daily pilgrimage for nearly 50 years. Even at 90, and in failing health, ‘Work at Bala Mandir was Worship’ – evidently a life time commitment to a cause. Come rain or shine, you could find her in the Bala Mandir campus daily, administering to the needs of the children.

The happiness of hundreds of Bala Mandir children whose parents failed to or could not bring them up, is testimony to what a good cause could achieve in the hands of a capable and devoted administrator.

A selfless and dedicated Social Worker, she always chose to stay way from publicity and limelight, she donated the entire cash proceeds of the Government of India National Award and Rajiv Gandhi Memorial Award which she received to Bala Mandir. She was the 1st recipient of the Central Government Award for Child Welfare and it was one of the few awards she accepted on behalf of Bala Mandir.

Her command over language and Accountancy – despite only being S.S.L.C. was remarkable and stunned many an administrator and Auditor.

Her success was marked by her outstanding decisiveness, which included the conviction and courage to take decisions to ensure the best for her children, even against the current of opposition.