Madhura Chatrapathy her dynamic legacy transcends time

In the quiet hours of October 31, the Rotary world was jolted by the sad news that one of its brightest stars, PDG Madhura Chatrapathy was no more. The disbelief echoed through Downtowners, flooded with messages about Madhura — the ever-smiling, gracious, caring Rotarian who left an indelible mark on their hearts. Her sudden passing was a huge loss to Rotary, leaving behind a huge void in our hearts.

PDG Madhura Chatrapathy

A vibrant and trailblazing force in the bustling city of Bengaluru, Madhura left her mark in entrepreneurship and women’s empowerment. I’ve known her from 2016 and found her to be a natural charismatic leader who shattered glass ceilings by becoming the first woman president in the then District 3190 and later created history as the first woman district governor in South Asia in 1998–99.

She was Editor of Rotary News, much before she became a Rotarian, and under the guidance of late PRID M K Panduranga Setty, Madhura led Downtown to become the first giving club in RID 3190 in its charter year itself. Initiatives like Roving Comfort Stations (Toilets on Wheels), novel bus shelters, tree census, international young entrepreneurs conference, Money Mart, etc showcased her visionary spirit.

Madhura’s commitment to service extended globally, where she served as one of the training leaders at the International Assembly in Anaheim in 2004. As the District TRF chairman, she achieved an all-time high contribution of over $300,000. She was instrumental in raising over ₹1 million for the World Polio Fund for two years in succession.

Madhura’s influence transcended Rotary; in 1981, she established Food Associates Bangalore, a dehydration plant producing customised dehydrated food ingredients for local and global markets. She set up AWAKE (Association of Women Entrepreneurs of Karnataka) which became an internationally recognised resource centre, nurturing over 30,000 start-ups and women entrepreneurs.

Madhura’s entrepreneurial spirit also manifested in ToeHold, an organisation making handcrafted footwear by artisans in Athani, Belgaum district. Through ToeHold, she revolutionised the production and marketing of Kolhapuri footwear, positively impacting the lives of hundreds of artisans.

With PRIP K R Ravindran.

Her dedication to eradicating polio showcased her tireless efforts in making the world a better place. She was a compassionate human being, an inspirational leader and a determined go-getter. A much sought after resource person by multilateral agencies like UNDP, ILO, UNIDO, World Bank, UN ESCAP and Economic Commission for Africa and others, Madhura has authored many books and research papers.

Raising above a difficult childhood, she chose a path less travelled and shone like the North Star; a true role model and a visionary who led from the front. Madhura’s legacy lives on in the hearts of those who had the privilege of knowing her. In her passing, the world has lost a true supporter of the downtrodden.

The writer is president of Rotary Bangalore Downtown, RID 3191

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