District conferences (discons) offer a unique opportunity to leverage the collective intelligence and capabilities of Rotarians to make their Rotary clubs vibrant so that they can tackle the challenges ahead by sharing their best practices, said RI Director A S Venkatesh. Addressing the three-day RID 3232’s discon titled Synergy ’22, he said while fellowship, bonding and network are spontaneous in Rotary conclaves, “we should go beyond this to informally share our ideas and best practices to make our clubs stronger.”
A number of Rotarians have approached him with concern about the impending bifurcation of RID 3232 (Chennai clubs) as they have some reservations about this split in the Rotary district. He is ready to listen to those “who have time, inclination and desire to come up with some constructive suggestions, either opposing or supporting the move,” he said.
RI vice-president Nicki Scott, RIPR, felicitated PDG Krishnan V Chari with the Service Above Self Award. Venkatesh recalled his long association with PDG Chari.
In a way the Covid pandemic has accelerated rapid changes in Rotary clubs over the last two years than what was done in the previous 10 years.
— Nicki Scott, Vice-president, Rotary International
To illustrate his ‘no-nonsense approach and leadership quality’, the RI director cited an incident 22 years ago at a discon in Chennai, when he was a member of the catering committee. “An angry Rotarian jumped across the long dining table and caught me by the collar for not including the leg piece in the chicken served to him. When I took up this issue with the then DG Chari, he nonchalantly asked me to tell him that a chicken has only two legs.” Chari was DG when India celebrated its 50th year of Independence and “he took up mass feeding of people through the year.”
In his speech, Chari recalled his 38 years as a Rotarian and thanked his “good friends who were outstanding and tireless in their commitment to service.” Late PRID Sushil Gupta supported him a lot when “I built Rotary News from scratch at that time.”
Four priority areas
RIPR Nicki from RID 6450, UK, recalled her first visit to India “10 years ago for an immunisation event in Delhi. The country was polio-free for three consecutive years at that time, thus setting a great example for other polio endemic nations.”
Praising DG J Sridhar for the tremendous growth of clubs and the service projects, she said, “the impact such growth has on the less privileged will be phenomenal.”
Last year, Rotary had sanctioned $21 million as disaster response grants and $30 million as Covid grants. “In a way the Covid pandemic has accelerated rapid changes in Rotary clubs over the last two years than what was done in the previous 10 years,” said Nicki.
Record growth, projects
Earlier, DG Sridhar presenting a status report of his district’s clubs said, “so far we have done 5,130 service projects worth ₹38.9 crore touching 10.18 lakh lives. Our TRF giving stands at $1.7 million till now.” The district has added 22 new clubs, taking the total to 168 with the number of Rotarians at 8,213, a membership growth of 14.8 per cent since July 1, 2021. “Our women’s membership grew by 18.56 per cent; and retention stands at 93.69 per cent. We have added 1,300 new Rotaractors taking their count to 21,000-plus.” The district has formed its first corporate club in RC Chennai Madhavaram with the staff of PDG J B Kamdar’s Nadi Group.
A disaster management manual was released by RI President Mehta with the clubs doing a number of Covid-relief projects and flood mitigation events in partnership with the Chennai Corporation. On a single day, 48 clubs inoculated 68,810 people in a mega vaccination drive at a total cost of ₹3.8 crore.
The vocational skill centres trained 9,157 candidates at a total cost of ₹1.3 crore; 82 dialysis machines were installed across Chennai hospitals; 31 RYLAs were conducted by 40 clubs, and District clubs are executing 16 GGs. District trainer PDG Kamdar, councillor PDG Abirami Ramanathan, conference chair Vinod Saraogi and district secretary Ravi Shankar spoke at the inaugural session. Synergy discon had 3,000 Rotarians and Anns, and 500 Rotaractors.
Pictures by V Muthukumaran