Meet Calcutta Club’s new President — Indrajit Roy

Club sandwich

By Anannya Sarkar
  • Published 7.09.18
Indrajit Roy, the new president of Calcutta Club. Picture: Arnab Mondal

He’s a neurosurgeon with an abiding interest in debate, theatre and music, and has donned many hats, including that of the city’s sheriff in 2011. In his latest role as the president of Calcutta Club, Indrajit Roy has grand plans, including taking up green projects and coming up with events that cater to all kinds of members. A t2 chat... 

In the president’s chair for a month now, what’s been on your immediate to-do list?

Since inception, the election for the president is held on the last Friday of July. After this, we have our annual general meeting in which the new committee is elected. Immediately after that, I had to start working for August 15. But since I have been in the committee for 12 years now, I quickly set it into place and it was a grand success with a large number of people attending.

That same day, we inaugurated The Coast, which will offer coastal food to members and guests. This had been on the cards for a while and I thought of launching it on the same day. It’s a contractual outlet by Pappadam. We also had a book launch soon after.

My first priority is to get the committee in order that has 13 members including me and then there are subcommittees. This is also the first time we have two female committee members. There’s a financial side to look into and I have also taken up the task of clearing the backlog of long-pending list of applicants for memberships. We are trying to cut down the waiting time and now it’s five-six years for the general category. There’s a lot of future planning to be done, a lot of major programmes and ensuring that it caters to everyone, which is very difficult as it is a large club with over 5,000 people! We have plans for the club — being economically sustainable and socially conscious with green projects and development, apart from routine maintenance. I also want to bring in more funds for our scholarship fund. 

What marked your initiation into the club?

I became a member in 1989 and my elder brother introduced me to the club. Those days, the club had mostly old people but very stately and the food was excellent. The events were also very classy. Gradually the club started taking younger members and the events also started changing and became more vibrant. My initiation into the committee was when I joined the subcommittee for administration under Pranab Kumar Ray. Since then, I have covered law, food, wine and cigars, finance... everything, I think. 

The iconic Calcutta Club is in its 111th year now

What are the big events on your social calendar?

The biggest event here is the International Evening, which is the biggest in the city. Apart from that, there are events such as the Bakery Carnival, December 25 and 31, Saptami and Navami lunches, the Agamani programmes and Bijoya-Diwali events. We have our Commemoration Day dinner, which is a sit-down dinner in which members can get a feel of how things used to be in the club in the past and is a very important day for us as it commemorates the entry of the club to this building. We have some classical evenings, partnered by The Telegraph, and the national debate, which has seen the likes of Narendra Modi, Shashi Tharoor and Kanhaiya Kumar. We also have an international debate with speakers from outside. This time, we have a new debate with the Presidency University alumni versus the St. Xavier’s College alumni.

On the drama side, which is one of my passions, we have the annual Bengali and English plays. We celebrate Poila Baisakh, which is also the club’s birthday and is a big event. So programmes are galore.

This is a club where I have heard Bhimsen Joshi, Hariprasad Chaurasiya, Ravi Shankar — Calcutta Club has given me the time of my life. I want to get some more such people and provide something for everyone. 

Do you intend to bring in more young members?

The club has already reduced the joining age to 30. As for taking in younger members, we go chronologically. But since the club brought down the joining age, a lot of young members have joined.

What is the biggest challenge you’ll face this year?

Funds. Keeping this old heritage building in shape is a huge challenge. From electricity bills to fuel costs to food, everything is going up. We can’t raise all the prices in the club, though we’re having to in some cases. 

How do you balance work and club presidency?

With age, one has to reduce work, especially with an exacting profession such as neurosurgery. Usually, I am here every evening and sometimes, I am here till midnight. But that’s also because the initial workload is a lot. Once everything falls in place, I think things will ease in. All of this has come with my family’s support, of course, and they have been very understanding.