Saga, the District Conference of D 3230, witnessed special bonding, hugs and handshakes as the 2,300-odd Rotarians and their families from in and around Chennai came together as one big family for the last time before the District gets bifurcated into 3231 and 3232 in the coming Rotary year.
Realising the significance Conference Chair S Muthupalaniappan and his team had drawn up the blueprint of the programmes to make it memorable for all. There was something for everyone at the sprawling venue. The two-day affair started with a big bang, literally, to the beats of Drummer Sivamani. While ‘The year that was’ added to the poignancy, the Rotarians’ love for The Rotary Foundation came to the forefront when contributions poured in, beginning with PDG Sv Rm Ramanathan presenting a cheque for $100,000 towards Term Gift, followed by 12 Major Donors and four Endowment Fund donors.
I’m awed to see you all giving in lakhs so that many others will have a good life.
— Actor Prabhu
“It was a meticulously planned programme,” said DG Natarajan Nagoji. PDG Asoke Ghosh of D 3011 was the RIPR while film star Prabhu was the guest of honour. Commending the donors, Prabhu reminisced, “When a beggar knocked at our door, my father would say, ‘Give him a rupee and he’ll be happy.’ But here I’m awed to see you all giving in lakhs so that many others will have a good life.”
T N Manoharan, Canara Bank CMD, held the audience spellbound as he enumerated various facets of the Satyam Computers scam, in his address on Rotary’s Four-Way Test. Tallying the account of life, he said, “Contra entries are only for your ledger books. There can be no contra entry in life. Even if you have 100 credits, one debit can wipe out all your good deeds.”
Gopinath, the anchor of the immensely popular Tamil debate show Neeya Naana (You or Me), had the delegates in splits with his trademark humour. Toxicologist and forensic expert V V Pillay gave insight into the serious damage that can be done when different kinds of poison are imbibed accidentally. One could relate to his talk on episodes of lethal poisons such as stupefaction agents which cause retrograde amnesia in date rape victims, and harmless dyes used by children to just gain attention when they feel they are neglected. Other speakers included Professor Suba Veerapandian and BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra.
The District Conference honoured former Chief of Indian Navy Admiral Sureesh Mehta with a Lifetime Achievement Award and Arunachalam Muruganantham, innovator of low-cost sanitary napkin making machines, with a Vocational Excellence Award. The recognition of Ayyappan, headmaster of the Nelikuppam Panchayat Primary School near Chennai, for his innovative English language teaching module, was welcomed with great applause and the short skits played by primary class children in flawless English and confidence deserves special mention.
WinS Vice Chair and PRID P T Prabhakar presented the progress made by the District in installing toilets and wash stations in schools. He highlighted that TRF has made WinS “a focused programme,” earmarking $1.5 million for WinS global grant projects and referred to the handwash model displayed at the WinS booth. He announced that Rotary has got a special price, bringing down the cost of the station from Rs 20,000 to Rs 16,000. He acknowledged Rtn G Balasubrahmanyan’s commitment to the WinS programme and RC Madras Central for undertaking to install 100 handwash stations in schools.
The teams of the newly formed Districts — D 3231 to be led by DGE Jawarilal Jain and D 3232 by DGE R Srinivasan — were introduced. All past governors were recognised for their valuable contributions to D 3230.
It was curtains down as the Rotarians bid fond farewell to their friends to the beats of celebrated folk arts performer Dr Kaleeswaran and Gaana Ulaganathan. “We wanted to make it a trendsetter and I think we’ve achieved it to a large extent. More importantly, the stall owners at the HoF were happy with the turnout and that in itself is a big image booster for us,” said Muthupalaniappan, heaving a satisfied sigh. n