Founder of Interact
Nitish Chandra Laharry, the
first RI president from Asia, had been a Rotarian for 33 years when he began his
tenure in the organization's highest office. Appropriately, he was elected at
Rotary's first convention in Asia: Tokyo,1961.
Nitish (NITH-ish- the first syllable rhymes with WITH) was borne and educated in Calcutta. He held a BA in English from the University of Calcutta as well as master's degrees in economics and political science. He also earned a degree in law, and for four years was an advocate of the Calcutta High Court. But then he decided to venture into India's burgeoning film industry. He build a studio, hired actors and produced the state of Bengal's first motion picture, a satire on Indians who visited England and came back more British than the British. Then a depression hit Bengal, and he switched to film distribution. He traveled so widely throughout India that his wife, Bindubala, kept an alternate suitcase packed. he even gave up Rotary - briefly - because of sparse makeup opportunities.
After 34 years of business travel, Nitish was ready to retire. Then Rotary beckoned, and the travel started all over again. He had earned his credentials, In 1944, when he was president of the Rotary Club of Calcutta, one of history's worst famines struck Bengal. Under his leadership, Calcutta Rotarians set up food canteens, Rotarian doctors treated patients free and Rotarians throughout India sent the club's relief fund 100 times over its goal. During the war, Nitish had been vice chairman of the US Army Entertainment Organization. Following the victory he organized disbursement center for the Indian government.
In 1958, Nithsh organized Rotary's Asian Regional Conference in Delhi attracting more than 2900 registrants from 21 countries and setting a record for years to come.
Sadly, his beloved Bindubala, ill for many years, was unable to assist his presidency, and their daughters Bira and Mira, took over many of her duties. A deeply spiritual man, Nitish viewed Rotary's idal of service as a form of worship to God. The "Kindly Light" in which he so fervently believed guided him home 21 July 1964.