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The History of the YMCA in India

YMCA Calcutta and the Early Beginnings:

The YMCA in India took roots in what is now Kolkata, way back in 1857, though a beginning was made in August 1854. On February 27, 1857, the Calcutta Christian Juvenile Society of 1822 formed by John Lawsan, a Baptist Missionary associated with William Carey, changed its name to Calcutta YMCA. This was the beginning of the very first YMCA in Asia to be followed by the one in Colombo, Trivandrum, Bombay, Madras and several others. By the 1880s there were several YMCA's in South India. In 1890, David McConaughy, a young American from the International Committee of the American YMCAs arrived in Madras and founded the very first YMCA there. He was later instrumental in forming the Indian National Council of YMCAs, the forerunner of the National Council of YMCAs of India, after a conference in 1891. The National Council of YMCAs of India is the apex body of the Indian YMCAs entrusted with guiding and overseeing in general the activities of its affiliated associations and providing a direction to the Indian YMCA Movement as a whole.

The Genesis of the National Council of YMCAs of India:

David McConaughy convened an All-India Convention of the then 35 local associations along with a few smaller associations set up in the London Mission area of Travancore by lay Missionaries, Dr. E. Sherwood Fry of Neyyoor. The Convention, during February 20-21, 1891 at the Madras Association of the YMCA in Esplanade adopted a Resolution for constituting a National Council. The first Indian National Committee comprised 17 persons. The headquarters for the National Committee was in Madras for one year and the Convention unanimously elected Mr. S. Sathianadhan as Chairman, W.R. Arbuthnot as Hony. Treasurer and David McConaughy as its first Secretary. The national headquarters was situated in Calcutta between 1891 and 1964, finally shifting to New Delhi in 1964. The National Council celebrated its centenary in 1991. The first Indian Bishop V.S. Azariah was the first Indian YMCA Secretary and K.T. Paul OBE, an associate of Mahatma Gandhi was the first Indian National General Secretary in 1916.

Spread of the Indian Movement:

The India YMCA Movement has 588 affiliated and 450 non-affiliated local associations across nine Regions of the country with the membership standing at around 2 lakhs, comprising both men and women. There are at present 140 YMCA Professional on the national cadre of Secretaries in India. The Indian YMCA is the second largest network of YMCAs in the world next only to the USA and is an affiliate of the World Alliance of YMCAs and the Asia & Pacific Alliance of YMCAs which groups 27 member-movements. The Indian YMCA is a Christ-centred, youth-focused and mission-oriented movement.

Time-Line of the YMCA in India



First YMCA in Asia is formed in Calcutta



YMCA Trivandrum established



YMCA Bombay established



YMCA Thrissur established



YMCA Kunnamkulam (Kerala) established



YMCA Madras established



National Council of YMCAs of India is formed in Madras and YMCA fraternal Secretary from USA, David McConaughy becomes the first National Secretary



YMCA Bangalore established



National Head-quarters shifted to Russel Street, Calcutta



YMCA Training School for Secretaries was started in Calcutta



K.T.Paul becomes first Indian National General Secretary



Sri.K.T.Paul coins the word “Rural Reconstruction” and the YMCA starts Rural Demonstration Centres



Sir.K.T.Paul establishes the YMCA Indian Student Hostel in London



YMCA College of Physical Education is started in Madras



YMCA New Delhi established



First High School Boys’ Hostel built in YMCA Boys Town in Tirupattur



21st World Conference of the YMCAs is held in Mysore (the first in India and Asia)



YMCA Ernakulam established



National Head-quarters shifted to Massey Hall in New Delhi



YMCA Institute of Engineering is started in Faridabad with German assistance



K.M.Philip becomes the first Indian and first Asian to become the President of the World Alliance of YMCAs



National Head-quarters shifted to Bharat Yuvak Bhavan, New Delhi



Contemporary Mission statement of YMCAs of India is adopted at the 29th National Triennial Convention of the National Council of YMCAs of India at Madurai, Tamil Nadu

For more knowledge and information on the history and growth of the Indian YMCA Movement one can consult ‘YMCA and the Making of Modern India (A Centenary History)’ by Dr. M.D. David published by the National Council of YMCAs of India.

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