It was confetti and glitters for the ‘Go Getter’ Rotarians of Rotary District 3190. With their total contribution of $2.2 million to TRF for 2015-16, they have placed India on top of the South Asia Zone, besides elevating the country to the second position in the Rotary world. And, that is not all: $200,000 for the Polio Fund, 1,800 new members, 338 new women members, 52 new clubs, 58 Rotaract clubs, 170 Interact clubs, 40 global grants worth $540,000, 102 Major Donors and 101 PHFs. All this, everybody agrees, is no mean achievement.
Before you ask someone for $10,000, you write the first cheque. Nagesh did just that.
— K R Ravindran
An evening, designed by the Event Chair, Rtn Nagendra Prasad B L, was dedicated specially to celebrate this resounding success of the District and its immediate past DG K P Nagesh at Bengaluru recently. The special guest for the evening was immediate past RI President K R Ravindran. Although he had decided not to accept any Rotary assignments at least for a year, he was at the celebrations “just for Nagesh. I couldn’t say no to the man who has provided the best of leadership. The vision that he had, the way he translated that into a mission, leading his team to deliver such stupendous results — he needs to be applauded,” he said.
He always felt that the district was performing under par and now it has achieved its potential. “Maybe this is only a scratch on the surface and there is more to come. DG Ananth is such a fine leader and has his own style. Your job is to consolidate and try to beat Nagesh,” Ravindran added.
He lauded the district for installing 52 new clubs but “I’ll be extremely happy if, at the end of three years, at least 30 clubs survive. In my opinion, it’s better to start 50 clubs and see that 30 survive rather than start 2-3 clubs and get doomed.”
He commended Nagesh for the huge contribution to the Foundation. “He led upfront. Before you ask someone for $10,000, you write the first cheque. That is what is to lead by example. Nagesh did just that.” The DG, a level 4 Major Donor, became an AKS member earlier this year.
“I was only an ordinary (RI) President; only by deeds like what Nagesh did, that I get the limelight,” added Ravindran.
The appreciations from TRF Trustee Chair Kalyan Banerjee, Trustee Sushil Gupta and RID Manoj Desai, through AV presentations, drew huge applause from the packed auditorium. “This kind of achievement needs a special kind of leadership and Nagesh has shown that it can be done. He has made all Indians very proud,” said the Trustee Chair. “I wish I had 2-3 Governors like you. I am so happy I spotted you and doubly happy that the world is noticing you,” congratulated Desai.
Normally districts will have more PHFs than Major Donors. We hit more sixes than fours.
— K P Nagesh
When RRFC V Raja Seenivasan addressed the immediate past club presidents as ‘Heroes of 2015-16’ it took quite some time for the shrill whistles and claps that reverberated across the hall to die down. “Your District has reached the pinnacle of glory in the Rotary world. Yet, I know that this is just a trailer, picture abhi bakhi hai,” he said.
He recalled how when he had asked Nagesh to quote his target for the term, the latter had confidently said he wanted to be No 1 in the world and true to his words, he almost did it, pushing Japan to the third place.
Challenge your limits
Nagesh thanked his team for achieving this feat and said that he was always inspired by Ravindran’s words, “Don’t limit your challenges, challenge your limits.” He thanked RIDE C Basker, who was then the Rotary Coordinator, for his support in increasing members in his district, “For a long time we were hovering around 3,400-3,600. Last year a combo of systematic planning and several public image activities helped us shoot up our numbers by 2,000.”
His co-governors, Parag Sheth (D 3060) and Ved Prakash (D 3120) were present to applaud their batch mate.
On behalf of his presidents’ team, Naveen Kolavera of RC Bangalore West summed up the year saying, “Those 366 days were a dream. Nagesh transformed us from ordinary presidents to world class presidents.” DG H R Ananth, appreciating his predecessor, said that while last year’s performance was outstanding, “it scares me too.”
AKS donors O P Khanna, DGE Asha Prasanna Kumar, Nagendra Prasad and the Major Donors were lauded for their generosity. Other Rotarians were recognised for significant achievements last year.
Wine bottles auction, golf tournament… any opportunity to fill the Foundation’s kitty. But the major contribution came from the Rotary Premier League cricket match held in the city. The players were auctioned where one of them fetched Rs 96,000! Each team was bought for Rs 3-5 lakh. There were eight teams and Rs 32 lakh was raised.
The District topped the country with its contribution of $200,000 to the Polio Fund. “Novel ideas such as the Polio hundi, stamps, musical bingo, raffles, paintings auction helped in doubling our goal,” says the District PolioPlus Chair S Deepak.
“Normally districts will have more PHFs than Major Donors. But we hit more sixes than fours,” says Nagesh, referring to the 102 Major Donors and 101 PHFs.
The District has topped the Rotary world for the highest number of new clubs, women membership and Rotaract and Interact clubs.
A special team headed by membership directors Sameer Hariani, V Srinivas Murthy, Jeetendra Aneja, P M Radhakrishnan and Lochana Ashok Kumar was formed to improve membership. Lochana, the Director for Women in Rotary, targeted other women’s groups to increase membership. Hariani and Srinivasa Murthy attribute the membership leap to the systematic mapping of the District to locate areas where Rotary was hitherto unrepresented. The big jackpot, they say, was the chartering of 10 clubs by RC Tirupathi. “Tirupathi felt left out due to the language and distance barriers, but now we reach out to them regularly. They have even come here with their families for this evening,” says Srinivas Murthy.
More than the numbers and the records, what mattered most was the celebration of the spirit of Rotary and the spirit of the Rotarians rising collectively to the call of their leader.
The ‘Why not’ Governor
So what was the winning formula behind Nagesh’s fabulous success, I ask him.
“Ask, Ask, Ask and it will become AKS, said RRFC Raja Seenivasan at the MDPETS. That became my mantra,” says Nagesh. He never shied away from asking. “After all, I was asking for our Foundation, not for my daughter’s wedding,” he adds. Of the total 8 AKS members, the district gave four last year. As ARFC this year, he has introduced 4 more now, and wants to make his district a topper this year too.
He had struck a rapport with his presidents and district officials well ahead of his term. Weekly meetings on rotation at team members’ residences, train journey to Courtallam Falls in Tamil Nadu, and more importantly, the MDPETS at Sri Lanka brought them all together well before the beginning of their term. “Our Chai pe charcha sessions at the gazebo in Sri Lanka, where I encouraged my presidents to air out their fears about their clubs, helped everybody open up and communicate. This team building exercise got us the results.” For the first time in its history, the District Conference was held outside the State at Goa, and taking cue, this year it will be on board a cruise at Singapore.
“I told my presidents to take Rotary as their profession for the year. You’re the CEO of your club, which is your Company. Give your everything to your company. Give half a day for your profession, half day for Rotary and balance both with your family,” he says. He himself had stopped going to office last year, conducting his office routines through telephone.
He gives more credit to the presidents’ wives, a follow on from his Air Force days, he says. “They took half our load. I call them ‘working Presidents.’ His enthusiasm and open-to-ideas attitude has earned him the sobriquet, ‘why not governor.’ “Whenever my team came up with an idea, I would reply, ‘Why not?’
Nagesh thanks his ‘guruji’, trainer PDG S R Yogananda for his motivation and guidance. “Every Governor should have a trainer like him,” he says. The parting shot is: “Leaders should open up. The more they do that, more the Rotarians will respond.”
He is now busy building an academy on the outskirts of Bengaluru to train youngsters for the armed forces. “They can learn and earn at this institute, for, Nagesh plans to extend a monthly stipend for them,” reveals Assistant Governor Uday Kumar Baskar.