This is a wonderful story that illustrates the presidential themes of both PRIP Mark Maloney (Rotary connects the world) and the present RI President Holger Knaack (Rotary opens opportunities). And it also proves to the younger members of Rotary — Rotaractors — how the parent organisation can help them in myriad ways.
Recently, the Rotary-Rotaract synergy came to the fore when Jaya Sagar, general secretary of the Rotaract Club of Manali, RID 3070, a graduate who had completed her BTech in Electronics and Communication Engineering from NIT Hamirpur, got a scholarship for pursuing her PhD in CDT-Quantum Physics at the University of Bristol, UK, as a Zutshi-Smith Scholar.
While her scholarship covered her airfare, tuition fee, and basic living expenses in the UK, it could not help her buy an expensive laptop that was required to do research in this “very advanced and complicated stream of quantum physics, which requires a lot of mathematical modelling, simulations and programming capabilities.” Jaya’s mother is a single parent “trying to make ends meet for my and my brother’s education,” and could not afford to buy this laptop which cost around ₹1 lakh. According to university rules, Jaya was not allowed to work part time either to raise this amount.
Jaya, a recipient of the National Youth Award for research and innovation and the only Asian to qualify for this PhD programme from the University of Bristol, sent a mail to RID 3070 DG CA Davinder Singh, appealing for financial help to get such a laptop. She said she was a capable engineer and has worked on various useful projects for Indian defence, 5G communication, quantum computing, apple farmers, people living in the remote regions of the Himalayas and other projects in science.
It was only the Rotarians who offered a hand to help and ease my path. Your help has not only boosted my efficiency but also my morale.
Responding to the Rotaractor’s mail, DG Singh put her in touch with G C Thakur, president of RC Manali, and her appeal was shared with other Rotarians. Both RC Manali and Rotarians across the district pitched in and arranged the money, which was sent to Jaya. The DG also offered to put her in touch with some of his Rotary friends in Bristol if she required any further assistance in the city.
Having bought the laptop of her choice, Jaya says this has given her “more confidence and power to continue my complex research work and experiments with quicker results.” More important, she adds, that when she got admission to this prestigious PhD programme, “I got greetings from thousands of people across India and overseas, but it was only the Rotarians who offered a hand to help and ease my path. Your help has not only boosted my efficiency but also my morale. It is also a ray of hope for many brilliant minds in our region to work more diligently towards their dreams as they know they can look up to someone for support.”
Jaya reached Bristol on Sep 15 for her course, was in self-isolation till the stipulated period but could begin her online induction and attend classes which began on Sep 21. “The change in weather, the altitude and the different kinds of food made me sick initially, but now I am in good health and excited to join the university physically.”
As promised by Singh, she has also got an email from the Rotary Club of Bristol, and looks forward to connecting with the club members soon.
Jaya adds that her mother, who was very grateful to Rotary for helping out her daughter with a laptop, was even more delighted and very relieved to know that RC Bristol Rotarians had reached out to her. “She was really worried about me, as I was going so far away from home for so long, but now she feels reassured.”
On the interaction between Rotary and Rotaract clubs in his district, DG Singh says, “a few Rotary clubs in our district actively support Rotaract club activities through both logistic and financial support. Rotarians of our district have been regularly hosting Rotaractors across India for travel within the district for Rotary activities and programmes.”
The icing on the cake for both the DG and members of RC Manali is her parting line: “When I joined the Rotaract club of Manali last year, I had no clue it will play such an important role in my life. Thanks for your wonderful leadership and your help,” she adds.