‘Nehru’s Nadubhagom’ gone out of race

The year was 1952. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the then Prime Minister, accompanied by his daughter, Indira Gandhi, climbed onto the deck of Nadubhagom Chundan, fascinated by the Nadubhagom boat club's spectacular win in the debut Prime Minister's trophy race.

The memory of that historic event in the club's annals is still cherished by the people of Kerala , but today its a different story. While the international boat race is all set to celebrate it's 60th anniversary on August 11, the Nadubagom boat club is not even a competitor as the Chundan is in no fit state to participate.

Nadubhagom boat club secretary, Joseph Elemkulam, says the Chundan cannot hope to compete with the other highly modernised snake boats as its body has started to decay.

It has been participating only in 'B' Batch display matches for the last four years, he reveals, explaining that rebuilding the Chundan could cost lakhs.

"We have tried to renovate the Chundan by constituting a new committee this year. But raising the funds is the main hurdle," he says.

"The committee was constituted to preserve the Chundan as it is the only one to have ever been visited by the country's first Prime Minister. The cultural department must come out with a package to conserve it, otherwise it will become a forgotten relic," Mr Elemkulam warns.

Noted boat race commentator and Nadubhagom boat club member, V.V Grigary, couldn't agree more, pointing out that the Nudubhagom Chundan was the dark horse in the Nehru trophy boat race till 2002.

"It lost its sheen after that and several oarsmen left the boat club. As a result the club, which once had more than 500 members led by Jose Pushpamangalam and N NarayanaKurup, two great oarsmen, has now less than a 100. With the Chundan's condition deteriorating, the oarsmen were snapped up by other clubs for huge wages. If the government realises the importance of Nadubagom in the history of boat races, it could be one of the biggest contenders in the next Nehru trophy boat race," he believes.

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