Rotary clubs in RID 3291 are creating a role model by associating with Rotaract clubs to implement service projects and design various programmes. “It has been an exciting journey for Rotaractors since the start of this year,” says DRR Arka Kumar Nag as he leads the district’s Rotaract team to work with Rotarians. He was invited as a guest of honour for the installation of DG Prabir Chatterjee and a special guest for the installation of 15 Rotary club presidents, all of which he considers a “great honour”. Rotarians have also attended his installation as DRR, he says.
Rotaract’s elevated status was a landmark decision approved by the 2019 CoL to make Rotary more appealing to young professionals, thanks to PRIP Barry Rassin who formally proposed the move for Rotary membership to include both Rotary and Rotaract and batted for Rotarians to treat Rotaractors as equals and engage them in their community activities. The fallout of the CoL saw several positive policy changes including one which encourages Rotaractors to serve alongside Rotarians on district and RI committees.
Each of the 18 Rotary committees in RID 3291 has a Rotaractor as co-chair. “This has enhanced the morale of Rotaractors. It gives us an opportunity to contribute effectively to Rotary’s overall goals. For instance, the co-chair of the Rotary Interact Committee who is a Rotaractor is responsible for adding more Interactors and Interact clubs. This becomes easy as Rotaractors can connect easily with schoolchildren,” says Nag. On the other hand, PDGs have been appointed as chief advisors and mentors at the district Rotaract council.
The co-chair of the Rotary Interact Committee who is a Rotaractor is responsible for adding more Interactors and Interact clubs. This becomes easy as Rotaractors can connect easily with schoolchildren.
Rotary and Rotaract clubs are working together in three significant service projects in RID 3291 — a mega blood donation camp; an empowerment programme for girls/women called Veerangana, that includes life-skill training, self-defence workshops and legal counselling; and the Hariyali project that aims to plant 10,000 saplings across the district by the year-end. “It was good to accompany our DG and assistant governors to various project sites. I have learnt a lot from such visits on designing and implementing service projects, choosing deserving beneficiaries and sourcing supplies at competitive rates.”
The Rotary-Rotaract team is setting up a high school for tribal children at Pakur village. The school will be run by a Christian missionary and will have houses (groups) named after the four Indian RI presidents — PRIPs Nitish Laharry, Rajendra Saboo, Kalyan Banerjee and RI President Shekhar Mehta, and the auditorium will be named after Paul Harris. The foundation for the school was laid in mid-August.
Nag, a dual member, joined RAC Tollygunge in 2017 and served as its president for three consecutive years. He joined RC Tollygunge this year as a Rotarian and serves as the club’s Conflict Management chair. He is an advocate by profession.
As a Rotaractor he led his club to honour the artists who make huge Durga idols for pandals across Kolkata during Durga Puja. “We did this with guidance from our parent club, RC Tollygunge, and the state Labour department.”
Other Rotaract projects done during his leadership include fixing 500 taps and controlling flow of water from the open pipes across Kolkata; providing books in Braille and white canes to the visually-challenged; and creating legal awareness in the community in association with RotaLaw (Research Organisation for Teaching and Advancement of Law).
As DRR his agenda includes organising eye wellness camps throughout the year and distributing spectacles. “Initially we have begun eye-screening for police personnel and municipal corporation workers in Kolkata and the Sundarbans. We aim to donate 20,000 spectacles through our Rotaract clubs and based on the programme’s success, RI President Mehta has promised to help us expand it nationwide,” he says.
Encouraged by Mehta’s suggestion Nag is batting to transition more Rotaractors into Rotary as dual members. The district had 47 dual members last year and he is hopeful of adding a considerable number this year. “We have a target to increase Rotaract membership to 1 million by 2029. When I updated the president that we Rotaractors will also work on Each one, bring one (EOBO), he modified it as EOBOR — that is each Rotaractor bring one dual member to Rotary. Then both Rotaract and Rotary membership will increase,” says the DRR.
Nag is keen on Rotaract branding and plans to enhance Rotary and Rotaract’s public image in all possible ways. The Rotary-Rotaract clubs are planning to distribute benches and desks to schools as suggested by Rotaract co-chair Ravi Vadlamani. All the furniture will sport the Rotary and Rotaract logos. The logos will also be printed on the tree guards to be installed around each of the 10,000 saplings to be planted.