The Beginnings (1940 - 1956)

In 1940, in Madras, the founders of our Sangham, Smt. N. Kameswari (Akkayya) and Sri. N. Raghava Rao (Annayya) used to gather children around them, to train them for All India Radio Children's programmes. Later they thought that children should have an avenue to exhibit their talent on the stage as well. Being writers of children’s literature themselves, they found it easy to put on shows of playlets, musical plays, songs and mono action. These were the beginnings of Andhra Balananda Sangham.

Years rolled by and with the end of the World War II, things brightened up. More and more children and parents from various parts of the city took interest in the activities of Balanandam.

Encouraged by this, the founders thought that it worthwhile to formalize this gathering and organize the traditional Dasara Dolls exhibition and conduct cultural shows. That was the beginning of the Children’s theatre group called Balanandam, meaning happiness for children.

Around this time appeared “Bala”the very first children’s magazine in Telugu, which later became an inspiration to other magazines like ‘Chandamama”. Our founders being the editors and publishers of ‘Bala’, allotted a few pages in the magazine to the activities of Balanandam children. This publicity helped the readers to start similar children’s clubs in Andhra Desam. Balanandam rapidly became a household name.

Balanandam activities at Madras (Chennai) created a lot of interest and started growing by leaps and bounds. Then our founders, along with other interested parents, thought it important to give the organization a firm basis and constitute a committee of management. Thus they formalized the association and registered it under the name of Andhra Balananda Sangham.

Children’s theatre activities sponsored by our sangham were considered to be of a high calibre. Many leading citizens, film producers and directors have associated themselves with the organization. They found it handy to utilize the talent among our child members and it is no exaggeration to say that every single child artist in films those days was sourced through Balanandam. Our thanks are particularly to producers, Sri. Nagayya, Smt. Bhanumathi Ramakrishna, Sri. B.N. Reddy, Sri. Nagireddy and Sri. Chakrapani, Sri. K.V. Reddy, Sri. D.L. Narayana, Sri. D. Madhusudana Rao, Dr. Raja Rao to name a few.

Our special thanks to Sri. K.S. Prakash Rao who was so impressed with the talent available here that he endevoured to produce the first full length feature film for children titled ‘BALANANDAM”. The entire cast were children of Balanandam and the script was written by Annayya and Akkayya.

In 1952, the executive committee decided to focus public attention towards children’s problems. To achieve this objective, the first children’s conference of its kind in South India was organized in Madras. A number of child delegates from various parts of the state of Madras and Mysore attended the conference.

The Child Welfare panel of the Central Social Welfare Board with its chair person Smt. Krishna Hatheesingh visited our organization in 1953 and paid glowing tribute to the work done by Balanandam. Our founder was invited to become a member of a panel that toured India to assess the needs of children.

The best recognition of the organisation’s services in the field of Child Welfare came from the Central Social Welfare board, New Delhi. The board gave Balanandam a grant to expand its activities. With that grant, Balanandam bought a projector and started a film club which was inaugurated by Sri. V.V. Giri, the then Minister of Labour.

With another grant of Rs.15, 000 from Central Social Welfare Board, the organisation purchased a commercial van and named it Balanandam. This enabled the start of a Toy library and a mobile library with a large collection of books and toys for children.

After the formation of the Andhra State with Kurnool as capital, Balanandam organized the second children’s conference in 1954. The conference was inaugurated by Sri. C.M. Trivedi, the governor of Andhra, presided over by Sri. Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy, the Dy. Chief Minister. A 21 member reception committee of prominent people in Kurnool headed by Sri. D. Sanjeevayya, Minister, Government of Andhra was formed to extend hospitality to the delegates from various parts of Andhra, Telangana, Madras and other states.

The third children’s conference was held at Guntur in 1956. Sri. B. Gopala Reddy Chief Minister presided over the conference. It was here that the resolution was passed that the headquarters of Andhra Balanandam Sangham would be shifted to Hyderabad when the state of Andhra Pradesh formed.

The impact of these conferences in the minds of children and even elders was tremendous and beyond expectations. It enabled various Balananda Sanghams in the state to come together, and formulate schemes for the development of children culturally and emotionally. As a pioneer institution, the sangham felt the need to give opportunity to rural units to meet together at a conference to discuss matters of interest of children.

The third Telugu conference was held on the 1st to the 3rd of January, 1956 at Guntur. A local reception committee was formed with Justice Sri .Kanda Bhimshankaram, judge Andhra court as chairman. While the main conference was organized by Balandandam, the local Balananda Sangham assisted in making many of the arrangements.

Child delegates and child welfare workers from Chittor, Tiruttani, Narasapur, Eluru, Vizag, Madanpalli, Bangalore, Hindupur, Bapatla, Sattenpalli, Palakollu, Podur, Polamneru, Bandar, Vetapalem and Madras attended the conference. The Balanandam mobile Library van brought the exhibits from Madras. A special bogie brought over 100 children from Madras to Guntur. More than 6000 child delegates participated.

Many important resolutions were passed at the conference regarding the representation of various affiliated units in the Executive committee of the Sangham. A provincial organizer was appointed to organize the units. The revenue Minister of Andhra has assured solid support, and he promised to take steps to allot land in each town or village for the establishment of Balananda Sanghams.

1953 - Rural development of Mahila mandals - akkayya, Durgabai Deshmukh & CD Deshmukh, Governor of Reserve Bank I British Raj, first Finance Minister of Union Cabinet
Perindevi amma garu, Srikar father Lakshmiramana garu, poorna chandra rao garu, akkaayya garu with foreign dignitaries of American Peace Mission