It is that time of the year in the Rotary world, for District Conferences, where District Governors motivate and inspire their teams to do even more, while highlighting the District’s achievements and the clubs’ projects to transform societies. Here Rotarians celebrate fellowship and develop networks.
The DisCon of D 3230, Saaral (‘a gentle spray’ in Tamil) got off to a vibrant start on February 7 at the Chennai Convention Centre. The two-day event ensured a memorable experience for the guests. RI President Nominee John F Germ and spouse Judy were the chief guests, as RI President’s Representative. RI Director P T Prabhakar and RI Director Elect Manoj Desai also graced the occasion. Over 5,000 Rotarians, including past governors from the host District and neighbouring districts and Rotarians from nine countries (the District was also hosting a unique Rotary Games Bond, an international sports event, with participants from nine countries) attended the event.
District Governor ISAK Nazar was lauded for his remarkable feat of taking his District into the Guinness Book pages for the Rotary My Flag My India event that saw the largest human flag formation, the signing of a sister club agreement between the District’s 59 Rotary clubs with 51 of D 3220, Sri Lanka, where he had led a team of 200 Rotarians on a goodwill visit and accomplished some meaningful projects in the island nation. Another remarkable initiative of the District this year was the forming of Annettes clubs and District Annettes Council which was recognised at the conference. On the membership front, the District has enrolled about 1,140 new members and formed 23 new clubs in the past six months since the beginning of this Rotary Year.
Nazar motivated his team saying, “You are not going to be ordinary presidents; I see you all as the most outstanding leaders. You’ll be the President of the decade, not just President of the year! I appeal to you to make 3230 proud and continue to deliver the best in the next five months.”
Service above Self
A Rotarian of 55 years who started as charter secretary in his 26th year and who has held just about every position in the District, implementing great projects and displaying true leadership, PDG Ramakrishna Raja was given Rotary’s highest recognition — the Service above Self Award by Germ.
The Rotary End Polio Flame, an initiative of RC Madras, was lit by John Germ. The flame started its journey from Sri Lanka and will travel to all endemic countries before reaching São Paulo for the Convention, creating awareness about polio immunisation and Rotary’s role in polio eradication and raising funds for the End Polio initiative. Club President S N Srikanth appealed to the Rotarians to donate US $1,000 to TRF to make the polio martyrs, brutally murdered in Pakistan, Paul Harris Fellows.
Lesson on Rotary values
In his address Prabhakar congratulated Nazar for his District’s excellent performance, and Conference Chair Rtn Mitra Srikkanth, for putting together a wonderful programme. He quoted statistics to show that India tops the world in membership development with an addition of 14,000 members this year and D 3230 ranks first with the highest number of new members added in the last six months ended December ’14. Referring to the Rotary Day Celebrations held in Chennai, he said that RI President Gary Huang hailed the event at the International Assembly at San Diego as “the biggest and the best PR exercise ever in the 110 years of Rotary.”
Elaborating on the Rotary values, Prabhakar added, “To be a successful leader you need the right attitude. Your generous contributions to TRF that makes huge transformation in society, is the greatest service to God.” He appealed to the club presidents to “build something concrete that you can be proud of before your year is out. Please build a toilet block in a school, or a library, anything of a permanent nature that you would cherish and your community would be grateful for that,” he concluded.
Time for delivery
Addressing the meet, Manoj gave the delegates details about his mission as RID in 2015–17. “Rotary has to deliver on the promises made; till now whatever has happened is good, your dedication and work have certainly given us credibility. But next what? At Chennai we signed that document with Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu for 10,000 toilet blocks.” But it is not an easy task; “It is a Herculean task because when you say ‘toilet block,’ it means two toilets for girls and two for boys.”
And now Rotary will be addressing not 10,000, but 20,000 blocks, which is a sizeable number that has been appreciated by none less than Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Desai said. When you get this kind of appreciation, with Amitabh Bachchan, Mary Kom and Juhi Chawla being your brand ambassadors before the launch of the programme, “that shows how popular and credible you are and that Rotary is a preferred partner in such programmes. So now let us start working on delivery.”
Dr C Rangarajan, former Governor of RBI, Ramanathan, Director-Projects, Chennai Metro Rail, Dr Pawan Agrawal, President of Mumbai Dabbawala Education Centre and novelist Chetan Bhagat were other speakers at the conference.
A trio-rally comprising of a walkathon, a bicycle and a tri-cycle rally to promote healthy and environment conscious lifestyle, organised at the beach, was flagged off by RIPN John Germ and Judy. About 6,000 Rotaractors participated in the rally.
Be proud of the opportunity to serve
Addressing the D 3230 conference, RI President Nominee John Germ urged the delegates to be acutely aware of each of the remaining days that were ticking away in this Rotary calendar year. Each of these days was a unique opportunity given to them “to make the world a better place. You are part of not only D 3230, but a part of the 1.2 million Rotary family that extends to 538 districts in over 200 countries.”
Thanks to the unique opportunity this organisation had given them they could be effective, efficient and persuasive in solving the social problems of the world … in education, health care, sanitation and so on.
Germ told the delegates that while numbers were important, “we should not increase membership for the sake of numbers. We don’t need numbers, but we do need volunteers … to improve the quality of life of people in our community … in the world.”
He said TRF has six focus areas and one of these crucial areas is peace and conflict prevention and resolution. There was so much of violence and many wars around the world. “Peace is not just the absence of war; peace is providing clothing to children, helping heal the sick and educating children.”
He urged all Rotarians to work towards a more harmonious world “so that all of us have an opportunity to raise our children and grandchildren in a peaceful world.”
He lauded D 3230 for its excellent projects in all the core areas of Rotary; they could be proud of the fact that they had worked hard to change lives — bring water to the thirsty, heal the sick, feed the hungry and educate disadvantaged children. They had in their midst 176 Major Donors, 4,052 Paul Harris Fellows and had contributed $9 million to TRF.
They could be proud of all this; proud that they had worked to eradicate polio from India and were “part of the inspiration that keeps India polio-free,” Germ added.