Lionism in India

An American Army Officer Lion Robert Williams came to India as a Scout Officer prior to February 1956, since which time Lions movement was established in India and came in contact with Late Lion Noshir Khan who was running a Schouts Troop as a Scounter and who was not a Lion then and also with the then State Commissioner Comdr. Kaiki B. Godrej. This initial meeting between three Scouts Officers resulted in good friendship betwen them, which was responsible for bringing Lionism to India as corresponding started between Lion Robert Williams of Saxton, U.S.A. and Late Noshir Khan.

In 1950, Mr. Noshir N. Pundole was deputed to an American Scount jamboree held at Valley Forge. After seeing the activities of Lions in Pennsylvania Mr. Noshir N. Pundole expressed a dream and a wish that it would be nice to have Lions movement introduced in India.

In 1956, when the International Association of Lions Clubs Seriously thought of starting Lions International Movement in India, Lion Shafeec A mansour, who was then International Delegate Overseas of Lions International contacted late Mr. Noshir Khan, Mr. Noshir N. Pundole and Late Comdr. Kaiki B. Godrej simultaneously. Lion Mansour later made a first visit to India which resulted in formation of two Lions Clubs in India namely, Lions Club of Mumbai and Lions Club of New Delhi.

It is natural that the very distant club of Lions Club of Saxton, to which Lion Robert Williams belonged, sponsored these first two clubs established in India. Whilst Lions Club of Bombay was inaugurated first, Lions Club of Delhi was chartered first, both being sponsored by Lions Club of Saxton PA. During all these years Lion Jehangir D. Surti acted as the Dist. Treasurer of Dist. 304. Then onwards the growth of Lionism in India was tremendously brisk till we have today in India more than 2.617 Clubs with a Lion membership of more than 120, 960 the third largst, countrywise Lions International Organisation in the world. Lion Noshir N. Pundole was Provisional District Governor after which he became a full- fledged District Governor. Thereafter, when Lion Rohit Mehta became the second District Governor of India, Lion Noshir Pundole started working Full time for Lions International, first as International Representative, at which time a make shift office premises were obtained at Dadbhai Naoroji Road. However, the stalwarts used to meet every morning at the Bombeli’s Cafe at Churchgate, notably Lion Minoo J.D. Engineer, Lion Jehangir Surti, Lion Sohrab Khan, Lion Noshir Pundole and Lion Comdr. K.B. Godrej when he was in Bombay.These men used to start their day with Lionism at the Cafe and then disperse at about 11 a.m. to go their respective business.

In the year 1960, the office at India House was started when Lion Noshir Pundole became the Asian Secretary. He was instrumental in introducing Lionism to Singapore, Malayasia and Thailand.

In the year 1962, Lion Minoo J.D. Engineer was appointed as a part time International representative and thereafter Lion Rusi Gimi was appointed part-time International Representative in Calcutta. In the year 1964 Lion Noshir Pundole as Asion Secretary to become the International Director, and Lions International requested Lion Minoo J. D. Engineer was instrumental in introducing Lionism into Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Brunei. Lion Minoo J.D. Engineer expanded office in Bombay and introduced manufacturing of merchandise for the first time, because of inability to pay for supplies due to foreign exchange regulations and import restrictions the Lions of India were denied Club merchandism. He also introduced a system for sending Monthly Membership and Activities (M.M.A.) Reports to the Office in Bombay, and for the first time began keeping Club accounts of this area in the office, as otherwise all over the World Club accounts are maintained at Oak Brook only.

While all the three Lions Late Noshir K.J. Khan, Late Kaild B. Godrej and Lion Noshir N. Pundole can be said to be the Founding Fathers of Lionism in India; it fell to Lion Noshir N. Pundole to be the first District Governor of Combined District 304, Comprising of India, Burma and Ceylon, from 1956 to 1959. Late Lion Noshir K.J. Khan became the first District Cabinet Secretary of District 304 and Lion Kaiki B. Godrej followed him in that position.

Lion Rohit C. Mehta acted as the second District Governor of District 304 in the years 1959-60 and 1960-61. Later, Lion Rusi Gimi resigned for business reasons and Lion Minoo J.D. Engineer alone handled the portfolio of Secretary for South East Asia, as well as Extension in the same Area.

He also introduced the printing of all the Lions International Publications in India, again due to foreign exchange regulations and import restrictions and thus made the Lions International office in Bombay unique in the entire world, as no other office handled publications, printing, Clubs supplies and accounts. The rate of growth of Lions Clubs and members in India from 1965 onwards was phenomenal and to this date the tempo is being maintained. Naturally, the office also grew from three employees to the present.

Lions International recognised the most outstanding contributions that Lion Minoo J.D. Engineer made to Lionism in all of Southeast Asia by making him the first Asian to receive the Ambassador of Good will Award which is the highest honour that Lions International can ever bestow. It is remarkable that for all the years that he worked for Lions International he always gave the largest number of new Clubs.

In the year 1968, due to tremendous pressure of work Lion vispy Minoo engineer was appointed as International Representative. From that time onwards, till 1975, he mainly looked after extension in India, Sri Lanka and East Africa for a while. In 1976 he was appointed South Asian Secretary, which post he holds till today. His territory has now been expanded to cover Iran and Pakistan as well. His work was recognised by four International President through presentation of their International Presidents Award and the Gold Extension Award has been received by him continuously for eleven years. He is also recipient of the highest award in Lionism the Ambassador of Goodwill Award. He has also received the Loving Cup Awarded for 79-80.

In 1970 Lion Navroze Patel was appointed as Extension Representative and is responsible for the extension of new Clubs all over India. He has also received the International President’s Gold Extension Award for two years. Naturally, India should be and is proud of its contribution to Lionism. A country which started as 68th entrant in lionism stands third numerically, supported by significant contribution to humanitarian work, second to none in the world.

India has so far given Sixteen International Directors in the person of Lion Noshir N. Pundole, Lion Rohit C. Mehta, Lion Bihari Agarwal, Lion Premchand R. Bafna, Lion Ashok Mehta, Lion P.S. Ranganathan, Lion Shushile Agarwal, Lion M.L. Tulsian, Lion Kamlesh Jain, Lion G. Ramaswamy, Lion Naresh Agarwal, Lion M. Nagarajan, Lion Prem Lahoty, Lion Praveen Chhajed, Lion K.M. Goyal, Lion C. Varaprasad and Lion A.P. Singh.

Further our revered Past International Director Lion Rohit C. Mehta in 1978 was appointed by the International board on the Finace and Head quarter Operation Committee and as such had to attend Boards meetings.

Lion Rohit C. Mehta is the First International President from India of our great organisation for the year 1992-93.

Lion Ashok Mehta was elected as International First Vice-President from India at the Detriot Convention, 2004.

In the 50th year of Lionism in India it is a matter of pride for all of us that Lion Ashok Mehta has been installed as the International President at the 88th International Convention held at Hong Kong, to give the leadership to the world community of Lions. It is also a pride for all Indian that Lions International has adopted Hindi as one of its official languages.



In Press