In the past 35 years of my voluntary public service I have made it a point to Research, Recollect and Remember the good work done by individuals and institutions for the welfare of Nilgiris and its people. Starting with John Sullivan, I have done my services to great people like McIvor (creator of Botanical Gardens), Roman Abt (Inventor of Nilgiri Mountain Railway), Frederick Nicholson (father of Indian co-operative movement and long time resident of Conoor), Governor Sir Thomas Munro, Prof. Paul Hockings, the Nilgiriologist, Richard Radcliffe, the Nilgiri planter turned conservationist, Philo Irudhayanath, the school master who documented the tribals of South India including Nilgiris and the Hill Area Development Programme, which has been the bread and butter of Nilgiris since 1975.
Today I did my duty to remember the Cockburn clan who were mainly responsible for the development of Kotagiri which is now the hottest place to buy a property. Who bothers about the people who toiled to create it?
I had a personal gratitude to pay. My great, grandfather Karia studied in the first, formal school started by the Cockburns at Bikkambe near Kotagiri. He was so good the missionaries took him down to Udumalpet for higher studies. My grand father Andi Gowder studied there and became one of the few ‘Writers’ among Badagas and served the British firm Bayly and Brock for over 30 years. My father studied there and went on to become the first English journalist in the community.
The teachers and students of the school which was started by the Cockburns and is now a successful higher secondary school for poor children joined me. Mrs.Revathy Ganesh of the local YWCA not only joined me but also volunteered to clean up the grave which has been in a state of neglect for too long.
A minute of silence was observed for the more than hundred years of contribution by the Cockburns.
Also read: Catherine of Kotagiri – Catherine Waterfalls