YMCA India

India – National Council of YMCAs

Date of foundation of the YMCA: 1854
Membership Status:  Full Member
Full member of the World Alliance of YMCAs since: 1891

Brief YMCA History

The first YMCA organised in Calcutta in 1854 functioned only briefly; a second attempt in the same city in 1857 failed. The association established in 1875 has continued, as have the YMCA’s organised in Bombay and Lahore the same year and in Trivandrum in 1873. The first full-time YMCA Secretary, Mr. David McConaughy, was made available by the International Committee of the YMCAs of the USA and Canada in 1889. He helped to start the Madras YMCA in 1890 and to organise the first National Convention in 1891 which brought together representa-tives of 35 local associations. The Indian movement became a member of the World Alliance of YMCAs the same year.

In the beginning the YMCAs where mainly meant for prayer meetings, Bible study, Sunday school, Libraries and lectures of various top1cs-Later, it was realised that the YMCA needed to address other issues as well, in order to establish its identity with the society of those times.

As the Movement gained popularity, most YMCAs wanted to have their own buildings and by the early part of the 20th Century, a good number of local associations managed to acquire sites and construct their own building establishment. Subsequently, in later years many other YMCAs have acquired their own properties.

Work with the students was initiated in the year 1886, in an attempt to establish itself and turned its attention towards young men study-ing in colleges and high schools. Students YMCAs were formed in a number of local units and a Student Committee was formed, which estab-lished helpful relationship with the students department of the inter-national Committee, whose headquarters were in New York, It also established relationship with the World Student Christian Federation, which had been organised in 1895, to co-ordinate the work of Christian Student Organisation, including the Student YMCA, under the leadership of John R. Mott.

The YMCA Publication Programme was started in 1893. In 1894 the first publication of YMCA Magazine was called ‘The Young Men of India’. This was followed by establishment of ‘Association Press’ and the ‘Literature Department’ in 1912. Following this example, by 1955 there were a good number of Christian and non-Christian publishing houses, and a question of wether the YMCA should continue its publica-tion and literature work arose. It was decided that there was need to continue the pioneering work in the production of literature, designed to meet the interests of people.

The Bombay YMCA was the first to recognise that Physical Education was an important and integral aspect of its programme. Later, other YMCAs took up physical education as a part of their programme. It was realised that to further develop the ongoing programmes, there was need for a full-time Secretary to guide it. In 1908, Dr. J.H. Gray was assigned to the Physical Education Programme. In 1913, the Na-tional Council established the Department of Physical Education, at Madras. In 1920 National Council established the first college of Physical Education in Madras. By the end of the 1960, the department had grown to the point where there were 14 Physical Directors.

In 1920 the International Committee of the Olympic games sent an invitation for India’s participation in the Olympics, to the then Secretary of the Department of Physical Education. The YMCA trained the team which participated in the 1924 Olympics.

In both the first and the Second World War, the YMCA was actively involved in service to the troops and war victims, along with the Red Cross. It looked after entertainment for the troops and the rehabili-tation of the wounded and disabled soldiers. The moral and spiritual aspects were all through out kept in focus.

Besides services towards the youth, the YMCA found that there was need to extend its services to the rural areas. Under the leadership of K.T. Paul, who was one of the greatest pioneer and visionary of the Indian Movement, rural reconstruction work was initiated. This did a great deal to make the YMCA movement mindful of the needs of the village community; and in many ways initiated the present rural community work and the National extension service to the union and the state governments. In 1930 a plan was outlined for the development of rural welfare in India, with the aid of the cooperative movement, very much in line with the present plans of the government.

Lighthouse centres for training and demonstration towards rural recon-struction were established in various places, notable among them are the centres of Martandam and Indukurpet.

Another pioneering work which the YMCA decided to take up was the establishment of the Indian Student Hostel in London in 1920 for the benefit of young Indians. This hostel flourishes even today and is still a home away from home for the Indian students who go to London for studies. The efforts of K.T. Paul was largely responsible for this

Since the YMCA career called for professionalism, in 1907, the YMCA
planned to start a training school for professional secretaries.The
first training batch commenced in January 1911 at Calcutta. In 1912
the Training Department was shifted to Bangalore where it was attached
to the Union Theological College and continued to function till 1993,
when it was shifted to the Bangalore YMCA. In 1997 the training
department was moved to the National Council’s own building at Pune.

For many years the national alliance was known as the National Council of India, Burma, and Ceylon. In 1947 it became the Council of YMCAs of India, Pakistan, and Ceylon. A few years later when the YMCAs in Burma, Pakistan, and Ceylon set up their own national organisations, the Council became known as the National Council of YMCAs of India.

The YMCA brings together people of all faiths. In the Indian movement, a majority of its members were members of religious faiths other than Christian. However, full members – those who are entitled to vote for and be elected to the governing bodies of the associations – must on a constitutional basis be professing Christians.

During the last quarter of the century, the Indian YMCAs moved out of its buildings to the community-based activities for the empowerment of people, Community development programmes were initiated and civil societies have been started.

Mission Statement

Following the path taken by the World Alliance and the Asia Alliance, the National Council of YMCAs of India sought to formulate strategies and work plans relevant to the local situation. It was realised that India was a nation of vastly diversified people in terms of language, culture and religion. Moreover the caste system and the levels of wealth and poverty prevailing needed to be seriously considered. It was also accepted that except in a few isolated cases, the movement was generally still following the old system of service. In order to change this pattern and address contemporary issues, the National Council at its 28th National Convention at Visakhapatnam adopted the ‘Visakhapatnam Mandate’. This was a thrust formulated to cater to the Nations need. The concerns which led to the adoption of the ‘Vizag Mandate’ reasserted itself at the National Triennial Convention held at Madurai from January 15-17, 1998. The theme rightly titled ‘Reconcil-iation, Renewal and Reconstruction’ was a motivation to its leaders and members to seriously consider priorities and reaffirm its earlier plans and strategies and adopted the ‘Madurai Mandate’. The convention also recognised the urgency to undertake decisive initiatives. The problems of survival and denial of opportunities to enable one to experience the fullness of life in a larger but oppressed section of the society. Globalisation and its threats to the existing socio-economic structure and many other such issues.

Mission Statement
‘The Young Men’s Christian Association of India seeks to unite Men, Women, Youth and Children as co-workers with God to promote mutually caring, loving and humane communities. Accordingly, the YMCA partici-pates in God’s mission of restoring abundant life to all, with special concern for the most distressed and dehumanised in the country.
The Indian YMCA is committed to strive for a just society where op-pression, exploitation and denial of life is confronted and transformed. It believes in the sanctity of all life and preservation of all God’s creation. It stands for renewal and reconciliation in broken communities’.

Recommended by
The Executive Committee of The National Council of YMCAs on October 25, 1997, at Aizwal, Mizoram

Adopted by
The Executive Committee of the 29th National Convention
The National Council of YMCAs of the National Council of YMCAs
on January 16, 1998 at Madurai, Tamilnadu

Main Programmes

– The National Council carries direct responsibilities for the National Youth Programmes ; National Extension and Development Programmes ; the YMCA Rural Demonstration Centre, Martandam ; the Department of Training and Personnel ; the YMCA Rural Institute, Muzhukode.

The National Council promotes and sponsors Uni-Y & Hi-Y organisations in all YMCAs. Uni-Y representatives serve on the National Board; an increasing number of young people serve on local board and committees.

– The National Council, through the department of the National Programme and Youth Work conducts yearly National Youth Assemblies and National Student Assemblies for the purpose of enlightening the youth on the vision and mission of the YMCA Movement and also encourage the youth to be more actively involved in their respective YMCAs.

– At the Regional level, periodic leadership development -camps are being conducted for the youth and lay leaders in order to acquaint them on the mission of the YMCA in respect to their local needs and aspiration.

– The National Council and a number of major YMCAs are involved in exchange programme with YMCAs of other countries with the purpose of building bridges to a future of goodwill and cooperation.

– Publication of ‘Youth of India’, a quarterly magazine for nation wide distribution.

– Refugee Assistance Programme : in partnership with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), this programme was started by the National Council with the aim of providing need based support to refugees mostly from Afghanistan,Somalia, Burma, Iran etc., recognised under the mandate of UNHCR, living in and around Delhi. The objectives are to provide financial and social support to refugees until a durable solution is found.

The Indian sub continent is a country of vastly diverse people comprising of many different languages, culture, religion and caste background. Therefore the programmes of the YMCA in the different parts of the country are also diverse in response to the local needs of the people. Some of the main programmes of the YMCAs are as follows :

Hostels: most of the major YMCAs have been providing transit accommodation and re-creational facilities for people coming from abroad as well as for those within the country. The YMCAs also cater to the needs of the young working men and students, by providing hostel accommodation at nominal rates.

Camps: many of the YMCAs in the country regularly conduct out-door camps for young people in order to acquaint them to discover the beauty of nature and make them respect the earth’s natural wealth.

Youth Development : for development of the physical attributes of the youth, the YMCAs stress on games and sports by providing facili-ties and also conducting regular tournaments to encourage healthy participation and develop a sense of sportsman spirit and national integration.

To preserve the cultural heritage, cultural activities such as music, dance, arts classes and competitions are conducted.

Relief and Rehabilitation : YMCAs in different parts are actively involved in relief and rehabilitation in the case of riots, earth-quakes, floods and other natural and un-natural calamities, such as.

Non-formal Education : A large number of YMCAs are engaged in conducting non-formal training for the poorer section of society by imparting training in various skills such as tailoring, welding, carpentry, machine tooling, etc. Special attention is given towards non-formal education for women.

Multi purpose community centres are established within slums areas. The dynamic nature of these centres is achieved through part-nership in development and decision making by involving local commit-tee, women committee and youth committee.

The Organisation of communities and formation of self help -groups towards building an equitable and just civil society.

Programme for Street Children: many of the metropolitan and urban YMCAs are involved with work among street children by providing night shelters, part-time education, non-formal training and re-habilitation.

Programme for C.S.Ws : a few of the urban YMCAs have started work in the red light areas. Night classes for the children of C.S.Ws are being conducted. Training Programme for the CSWs are also conducted with a purpose of helping them to find alternate sources of income.

Rural Reconstruction Programme are being conducted by some YMCAS in order to empower communities through programmes such as agricultural training, demonstration farms and Mahila mandals.

Balwadis : Study centres for economically backward children are run in a number of YMCAs centres where the children are exempt from paying fees and are provided with mid-day meals and uniforms.

Health programmes for eradication of leprosy and T.B. cure of blindness and population control through collaboration with government and other NGOs.

Ecumenical efforts towards bringing about unity and harmony among the different churches.

Forest based tribal development programme among tribal communi-ties for the preservations of nature through social forestry and preservation of culture through cultural programmes.

Emphasis and goals for the next quadriennum

The National Action Plan focussed on three issues:
Christ Centered
Youth focussed
Mission oriented

To achieve this the following strategies were worked out:

1.Development of a strong and committed Christian Leadership at all levels.
2. Make necessary structural changes involving greater youth parti-cipation.
3. Develop a new programme pattern based on our mission.
4.Build a strong Movement with adequate resources.
5. Decentralise the administration.

The belief in and the person of our Lord Jesus has been the very basis of the YMCA Movement all over the world. Without such roots the edifice of the YMCA merges with any of the numerous social service organisations. The retention of its unique identity will require a continued commitment to Christ. The question, however, arises whether this Christ centeredness is to be understood in narrow religious identities and liturgies. Such a limitation restricts the YMCA Mis-sion. Christ centeredness must mean a call to discipleship aimed at fulfilling Jesus’ Mission of Love.
History is replete with numerous instances where limitations of human knowledge have restricted and even falsified Christian perspectives of mission. Christ centeredness must be attained and nourished in the Movement by numerous means some of which include, Collective Prayer, Study and Fellowship with others of different denominations and Faiths.

The Paris Basis emphasises youth as the centre of the Movement. The Paris Basis envisages the YMCA as a Movement where youth that believe in Christ come together to work for youth; or in other words it says ‘youth for youth’. In the past our Movement served the youth through programmes, facilities and activities. Yet somehow the youth appear to be at the fringe of main stream activity. Their participation in National, Regional and Local YMCA bodies is often reduced to levels of formalities or even non-existent. How many local associations have youth wings ? How many regions have effective youth work programmes ? An introspection must be made to find reasons for the absence of young people from YMCA centre stage. Is it a case of restricted participa-tion or monopoly of an older generation or irrelevant programmes ? It is imperative that young people come forward in large numbers. Young people here will mean young chronologically and not merely mentally. The future of the Movement will depend upon the levels of active participation in programmes and responsible leadership by young people. The youth participation has to be open to both sexes. At work and leisure young people are not segregated and the YMCA too must fall in line.

Our mission is extension of ‘God’s Kingdom among young people’. The Madurai Mandate which was adopted at the last convention gave the clear mandate that to achieve the above target the Indian YMCA should concentrate and work for the uplift of the young, marginalized and women.

To achieve this the following Action Plans are to be initiated

a) Express solidarity with the dalits and marginalised and work for
their uplift at national, regional and local levels.
b) Be concerned about youth and women’s issues and work for their


NGS, Bertram Devadas


National Council of YMCAs of India
YMCA of Bangalore
YMCA Ernakulam
YMCA Fort Cochin (India) 
YMCA Kollam 
YMCA of Mumbai/Bombay
YMCA of Madras
YMCA Madurai
YMCA of New Delhi
Radiant YMCA Tourist Hostel
YMCA Salem
YMCA Thrissur


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