It is time for Rotary to play an active role in nation-building. The organisation is present in more countries than the United Nations and its cumulative projects and high net worth members make it the most suitable to take up developmental metrics like literacy, sanitation, nutrition and healthcare, said RI President Shekhar Mehta at a TRF dinner hosted by RID 3190 with the support of RC Bangalore Midtown.
Recalling his meeting with PM Narendra Modi, Mehta said the latter had requested Rotary to work for the nutrition of women and children in India. Wherever he went — around 30 countries — in the last nine months, “everyone appreciated the role of Rotary in polio eradication.”
Rotary has now taken up the challenge to make India 100 per cent literate, “but the country has over 20 crore adult illiterates which needs to be tackled with new programmes. The Union government has formulated the New Education Policy based on discussion with Rotary which is delivering e-learning content to Classes 1-12 through 12 PM’s e-Vidya TV channels for 10 crore children each day.” Following the success of RILM’s e-learning module, many states including Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Gujarat are eager to sign MoUs with Rotary for airing regional versions of these lessons.
Mehta urged clubs to upload their service projects on rotaryindia.org, to “showcase Rotary India as a model to the rest of the world.” He urged Rotarians to take “great pride as you are doing god’s work on the earth. Dream big as we are also in the nation-building process.”
In his address at the luncheon meet with 100 club presidents and their spouses the following day, he said 4,000 clubs across India have inducted around 20,000 new members in the last 10 months which is equal to the net growth of the last five years. By June-end, Rotary membership in India will cross 50,000, for the first time in six years, he noted.
Sharing his experience of visiting global projects, he said, “in (South) Korea, Rashi and me were amazed by the automated strawberry farming being done by elderly people. But as they have very little needs, the entire proceeds were given to poor families; we met 24 Rotarian scuba divers who, along with others, dive into the ocean several times through the day to clear the ocean bed of debris. We saw around 40 tonnes of garbage dumped on the site.”
The support of the corporates helped us to scale up our projects to a different level.
— Fazal Mahmood, District Governor, RID 3190
In Nigeria, a huge hall was packed with 3,000 women involved in the making of reusable sanitary pads and “they were all well aware of menstrual hygiene. But men should also start talking about MHM.” He urged DG Fazal Mahmood to induct 250 new members by the year end to win the platinum citation of the RI President’s Membership Challenge. Mahmood has won the platinum award under the Paul Harris Challenge by adding 225 members across 160 clubs in Jan-Feb this year. So far, 800 new members and 13 new clubs were added by RID 3190 with 32 per cent growth in youth members and 18 per cent increase in women Rotarians.
Speaking at the TRF dinner, DG Mahmood said the clubs have done some “excellent projects undeterred by the Covid pandemic. The support of the corporates helped us to scale up our projects to a different level.”
Diverse projects are being implemented such as Hosa Belaku — adoption of 35 slums to improve livelihoods with emphasis on girls’ empowerment; Sahayoga has forged 130 partnerships between two city clubs and a semi-urban or rural club to implement basic education and literacy projects with a district grant of $1,000 for the rural clubs; Gramalakshmi has helped form 13 women’s SHGs over the last three years; and Sukh Sandhya for providing healthcare to elderly in 45 old age homes through two mobile medical units staffed with doctors and nurses.
Project Zero Hunger has delivered 48,000kg of rice and over 100,000 food packets, besides ration, to families; Kamadhenu has donated 20 high-yielding milch cows to women, 80 more bovines will be given; and Girls on Wheels is gifting 1,000 tubeless bicycles to rural school girls. “We have given thousands of artificial limbs, calipers, crutches and wheelchairs to amputees at special camps. Under the leadership of PDG K S Nagendra, we will set up five foster homes for girls in which at least 50 inmates will be accommodated this Rotary year,” the DG explained.
While Project Drishti creates awareness on avoidable blindness, Pink Express has conducted 24 breast cancer detection camps touching 1,800 lives and Project Warmth has distributed 10,000 blankets to roadside, homeless families. “We have constructed four check dams through a global grant of ₹80 lakh at Pavagada taluk in Tumkur district and an MoU was signed with Kshamata Foundation, an NGO, to identify 800-1,000 women and train them as entrepreneurs,” said Mahmood. Over 19,000 units of blood was collected and the blood donation camps will continue.
Welcoming 250 Rotarians and a dozen Rotaractors, co-host RC Bangalore Midtown president T Srikanth Bhagavat said this 45-year-old club is focused on doing mega projects across healthcare, literacy and environment. “We have done ₹4 crore worth of projects touching 3.75 lakh lives so far this year. Two free dispensaries treat over 50,000 patients a year. So far, a million patients have benefited from the Rotary clinics since 2005,” he said. An awareness programme on the massive work done by the Rotary Ashirwad Skin Bank at the Victoria Hospital will be taken up shortly.
Medical equipment and neonatal ICUs worth crores of rupees were set up at the HBS, BGS Gleneagles, Rangadorai Hospitals, Kidwai Institute of Oncology, and S R Chandrasekhar Institute of Speech and Hearing; 21-year-old Maanasi clinic at Mugalur village offers mental healthcare and its second unit was set up at the HSIS dispensary recently, both offering treatment to 3,695 women suffering from psychiatric illness.
The club has planted 100,000 saplings; created six urban forests in the city; rejuvenated a 42-acre Mugalur lake (₹1.2 crore) with funding from the Hindujas group and a 7-acre biodiversity park was created. Project Haaluday serves fresh milk to 1,000 children every day; scholarships were given to 984 students, 600 of them girls, to continue their education and 1,500 science lab kits were donated to government schools. “We will revamp 75 government schools in a joint programme, Campus 2 Community, that has 5,000 volunteers.” Project Happy Halli aims at integrated development of 100 villages over the next 10 years. This year, Shivanahalli village, Anekal taluk, Bangalore rural district, is being transformed with an upgraded school, a telemedicine facility, water storage sump and vocational centre at a total cost of ₹1 crore.
Irfan Razack, past president of the club and CMD, Prestige group, suggested permanent secretariats for Rotary districts to ensure continuity of service projects and hassle-free stewardship of district and global grant funds. “We know that TRF spends just 3 per cent of the donations and other earnings on administrative costs in an efficient manner for global projects in healthcare, education, polio and world peace. Rotary clubs put together make a big difference to the world through small incremental changes in their communities,” He said, urging Rotarians to ‘be the change’ with the help of Foundation grants.
Rtn Ramesh Bulchandani, project chair, eMaanasi, at the launch of this software platform created at a cost of ₹80 lakh by the club, said the records and proceedings at the mental health clinic, Maanasi, Mugalur village, had been digitised which will help psychiatrists to replicate this project across the world.
F R Singhvi, project mentor, CSR website, unveiled by Mehta, said the search engine optimised portal (rotary3190csr.org) will showcase Rotary projects to attract corporate-partnerships. The district’s CSR Committee led by Rtns Naveen Kolavara and Jayanta Tewari has designed the portal at a cost of ₹2 lakh.
District Environment director Ramesh Shivanna said the Rotary Carbon App (₹20 lakh), launched by Mehta, will help quantify reduction of carbon emission by Rotarians on a daily basis through a monitoring software and “help us make effective lifestyle choices to usher in a green environment.” Recently, 10 e-autos were presented to women through CSR funding to reduce GHG emissions.
Mehta felicitated 13 AKS members and some of the 426 Major Donors of RID 3190. For Rotary year 21–22, Rtns Rakesh Sharma, Singhvi and Vimal Kedia took the pledge to become AKS members.