The swish Bombay Gymkhana club at Fort, on M G Road, is in the centre of controversy over raising of children’s membership fees. The club, one of the toniest in the city, has raised the fees for members’ children to become members in their own right, from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 5 lakh.
Bombay Gymkhana, located on a prime site near Azad Maidan. File pic/Gettyimages
A large section of the member base is shocked at this huge jump. Members claim that the club could have at least waited to put this forward at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) to take place on Tuesday, September 23, instead of going ahead with no discussion.
“It smacks of high-handedness and inconsideration, which is becoming typical of this club,” stated one member angrily, echoing sentiments of a large number affected by the increase.
Fees have been increased from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 5 lakh (for children of members who are under 24) and to R7.5 lakh (if they are over 24). Members were only willing to talk on condition of anonymity. The Bombay Gymkhana did not respond to queries about the same, despite repeated attempts.
One parent who did not wish to be named stated that her child was abroad for studies. “If it was R1 lakh, I would have taken membership, but at R5 lakh, today I am wondering whether it is worth it as my son may be based abroad and not return to India. Why should I then, spend this kind of money to make him a member?”
Another member stated that she had two children and this jump was very steep. A member stated that it may be alright to double the fee at first but five-fold increase is “trash”. “The club has a substantial corpus, why burden the members?” asked another.
What has also irked the member base is that the hike has been done in a non-transparent manner, “with no prior discussion or even mention of this change. While the club claims it is well within its rights to do this, we say that it is time the club sheds its opaque ways and treat us like we are members of the same family.”
One member says that “there is a wrong impression that Bombay Gym members are millionaires who can afford and absorb any kind of fee hike. Many members are retired persons and this kind of hike will pinch them hard.” Another member simply scoffed, “this is berserk.”
A member stated that the issue is going to be raised by a lot of people at the AGM. “Even though my children are already members for years now, I will support people affected by this huge hike. The club is first and foremost, a sporting institution and a home away from home for many. You cannot make it unaffordable.”