When outgoing DG of RI District 3131 Vivek Aranha looks back at his year as Governor of a district that made waves during 2014–15 in the Rotary world for quite a few achievements and innovations, one of them being adding 1,500 new members, the highest in any Rotary District in the world, he gives an interesting nugget — Drumstick Revolution.
“I saw in Chennai how in Tamil Nadu, particularly rural areas, drumstick, which is one of the biggest sources of iron, is used to improve the low haemoglobin levels of women. So in our District we undertook what we call the Drumstick Revolution and planted 75,000 drumstick trees in the region,” he says. The saplings were subsidised and people encouraged to plant them across the District.
Aranha explains that in Maharashtra there is no knowledge or awareness
that this vegetable can be a cheap and effective source of iron for women. One of the major health problems of Indian women is a low haemoglobin count and he was very impressed with the way Tamil Nadu has tackled this problem using the humble drumstick.
So on July 30, when RI Director PT Prabhakar chartered RC Pune Next Gen, a massive club with 406 members, one of its first big projects was to plant one lakh drumstick saplings in rural and urban areas of the district within a month. “It doesn’t cost much and we’ve subsidised the saplings. I told the members that begin with your homes. All of you live in different Societies; plant at least two saplings in your Society and others elsewhere and don’t worry about who will benefit from it. It will improve the overall nutritional and health parameters of our community,”says Aranha.
He is also proud that women have been in “the forefront of all our activities, whether it is projects or membership. This year we sent 40 women Rotarians to Dubai as a group for an exchange programme. And in RC Next Gen, of the 406 members, half are women. We’ve also started a new all-women’s club with 30 members and all of them are entrepreneurs.”
Young flock to Rotary
PDG Deepak Shikarpur said that the two major challenge areas identified by Rotary International — getting more women and younger people into Rotary — had been cracked by D 3131. “In all the new clubs coming up, more young people and women are joining Rotary. The average age of the 406-member club Vivek mentioned, RC Pune Next Gen, as its name suggests, is 30!”
So how has D 3131 managed this difficult feat?
Shikarpur attributes this to “proper and targeted marketing.”Aranha says: “I believe that we are doing community service in the right sense of the word. We don’t put the name of any Rotarians in any projects — no director, no governor, no president — only District 3131 and Rotary feature in the name plates. So people feel there is no personal agenda involved and that has helped us a lot in attracting newer and younger people to Rotary.”