In the passing away of PRID P C Thomas, we have lost one of the most illustrious personalities in Rotary in India, as well as a humanist.
He will be remembered best for setting up an excellent educational institute; a higher secondary school of international standards and cutting edge practices and facilities. Thomas had long cherished the dream to set up a school of international stature, one that would not only impart top class education to students but that would also attract qualified, committed teachers to impart knowledge to students, enrich them with the best of academic abilities, and motivation levels and facilitate their holistic growth and development. Thus, the Good Shepherd International School was established in Ootacamund, Tamilnadu.
The school is the first-of-its-kind in India and overseas with over 1,500 students drawn from more than 40 countries and is rated as one of the best international institutions in Asia.
The mission and vision of Thomas extended beyond education in schools. He chaired many forums that focused attention on universal literacy campaigns and adult literacy programmes in many parts of the world.
Joining the Rotary Club of Nilgiris West in 1977 in RI District 3200, he distinguished himself as district governor during 1987–1988. He became the director of Rotary International from Zone 5 and 6 during 2001–2003. He played a key role in the acquisition and setting up of an expanded and modern Rotary News Trust headquarters in Chennai.
World leaders of Rotary International took his help and advice in various committees which included PolioPlus Task Force Committee, Literacy Promotion Task Force Committee, RI Redistricting Committee, and he served as training leader at the International Assembly, vice-chairman of International RYLA Committee, etc. He was a favourite choice of many RI presidents as their representative to district conferences.
A Major Donor of The Rotary Foundation, he was conferred with the prestigious Service Above Self Award by Rotary International and Distinguished Service Award by The Rotary Foundation.
The residents of Ooty remember him fondly as he was associated with the Indian Red Cross, YMCA and the Bible Society. As a Rotarian, he ensured that his business ventures supported his personal P C Thomas Foundation that he had set up for major philanthropic activities.
There is universal belief that behind every man’s vision, mission and achievements is his tremendous hard work, dedication and courage to speak out the truth which results in bringing about lasting changes. Thomas demonstrated that good deeds from a loving and caring person can make a powerful difference. I was honoured to work with him as a Rotarian.
Thomas touched the lives of not only generations of students, who have gone on to occupy influential positions throughout the world, but also so many Rotarians. They all, along with Nayantara and me, grieve with his family, his wife Elsamma Thomas and their children and grandchildren.
The writer is a past RI Director.
Picture by Rasheeda Bhagat