Why our founder started Blue Cross of India?
It all started one rainy day in 1959 when our founder Captain Sundaram couldn't just walk away from the two pups struggling to stay afloat in the flooded roads of T. Nagar. He took them home and that gesture marked the beginning of Blue Cross, the animal shelter in his house which at one stage had 60 cats, dogs, goats, bandicoots and also a pair of baby mongooses!
Captain Sundaram, born on April 22nd, 1916, had always wanted to care for animals. In his own words, "God had given me so much that I thought I ought to do something in return. There are so many charitable institutions for human beings, but so few for animals." With full-fledged support from his family (his wife Usha and the children built the first few kennels with their own hands), he was soon rescuing and sheltering animals in his T. Nagar residence.
The initial people involved were Captain Sundaram; his wife Usha (who was recognised, in 2000, as “the first Indian woman in aerospace” by the National Aeronautics Association); and his three children, Suresh, Chinny Krishna and Vijayalakshmi. Initially, an informal group known as the Animal Aid Association, they were soon joined by Mr. D. Daivasigamony, then Secretary of the Indian Football Association and Vice President of the Madras SPCA.
Since Captain Sundaram was a pilot with Indian Airlines, the entire work of looking after the rescued animals fell on Usha.
The activities of the group slowly increased and the name of the group was changed to the Blue Cross of India in April 1964. A few months later, Blue Cross of India was registered under the Societies Registration Act – No. 129 or 1964. The signatories of the Articles and Memorandum of Association were Captain V. Sundaram; Mrs Usha Sundaram; Mr. Suresh Sundaram; Mr. Chinny Krishna; Miss. S. Vijayalakshmi; Mr. D. Daivasigamony; Mrs. Kamakshi Krishnamoorti (mother of Mr. Usha Sundaram); Mr. T. V. Chandrasekhar; and Mrs. Sundari Nataraj (Captain Sundaram’s brother’s wife).
In 1965, Chinny Krishna proposed the mass sterilisation and vaccination of street dogs as an alternate to killing them and named the programme the ABC - Animal Birth Control. Endorsed by WHO, OIE and FAO, this programme has been India’s national policy since 2001 and has been widely used around the world.
Captain Sundaram passed away in 1997, Mrs. Usha Sundaram in 2010, Mrs. Kamakshi Krishnamoorti in 1989, and Mr. Chandrasekhar in 2016. Mrs. Usha Sundaram was a regular visitor to the Blue Cross till a few weeks before her death in April 2010.
In 1968, Mr. R. Ratnam was elected the Chairman of the Blue Cross and continued in this post till 1987. His successor was Mr. C. R. Pattabhi Raman who led us till 2000 when Dr. S. Chinny Krishna was elected as the Chairman and continued till 2010. When he stepped down, Mr. M. Shantilal Pandya was elected as the Chairman and he continues till today.
AWARDS AND RECOGNITION
In recognition of his tireless efforts in championing the cause of animals, Captain Sundaram won the Queen Victoria Medal from the RSPCA in 1964, the Watamull Foundation Award from the USA in 1987, Silver medals from the Madras SPCA and the Mylapore Academy, a Distinguished Service Award from the Rotary Club of South Madras and was posthumously awarded the Prani Mitra Award by the President of India in 1997.He was a member of the Animal Welfare Board of India from 1964 to 1967 and again from 1987 till 1990.
Mrs. Usha Sundaram was honoured by several Lions and Rotary Clubs for her work for animals and by the National Aeronautical Laboratory, in 2000, as the “First Indian Woman in Aerospace”.
Dr. S. Chinny Krishna, a Chemical Engineer by training, was a member of the faculty at the Indian Institute of Technology in 1973-74 and later the founder of Aspick Engineering P Ltd, a firm of precision fabricators. Among the many awards he has received are the Jeev Daya Puraskar, a national award from the Government of India presented by the Vice President, Mr Krishna Kant; the Jeanne Marchig Award from the Marchig Trust; awards from the North Shore Animal League and the Humane Society of the United States for his remarkable work following the devastating tsunami of 2004; the Proggy Award form PETA for his computer simulation programmes as an alternate to dissection of animals; the Karuna Award; the Hastimull Jain award; the Venu Menon Lifetime Achievement Award; the Life Time Award from Humane Society International; the Life Time Achievement Award of the Middle East Network for Animal Welfare and many more. He is also an elected Fellow of the Indian Institute of Chemical Engineers and the Institute of Engineers (India)
Dr. Nanditha Krishna, noted environmentalist, research scholar, educator, Company Director, author and animal activist has been on several high power Government of India Committees, including the Central Zoo Authority; National Wildlife Committee; Indian Council of Historical Research; and many more. With a doctoral degree in Ancient Indian Culture, she has been a research guide for Ph.D. students in Environmental Studies and History at the CPR Institute of Indological Research, affiliated to the University of Madras and was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Literature. She is the author of Sacred Animals of India and Hinduism and Nature, among several others published by Penguin, Roli, Vakils, Mapin and others. She has also been a columnist in newspapers and magazines. The recipient of several awards, she was bestowed the Nari Shakti Puraskar, the highest award of the Government of India for women, in 2015, for her restoration of Sacred Groves. She is the Founder of the various constituents of the C P Ramaswami Aiyar Foundation and is currently the President of the Foundation and the 110-year old SSKV Schools in Kanchipuram.
Mr. N. Sugal Chand Jain, Businessman, philanthropist and Chairman of the Bhagavan Mahaveer Foundation, was awarded the Rajasthan Rathna and several other awards. He was actively involved with the Childs Trust Hospital; the Cancer Institute; Shankar Nethralaya and many others as a Trustee as well as a major donor and is the recipient of many awards.