It is heartwarming to see this huge gathering of doctors who want to volunteer their services to the community through Rotary. A big ‘thank you’ to each one of you. I am sure you will have the best experience of your life and feel you have made the right choice in joining Rotary to do good in the world,” said RIPE Gordon McInally, welcoming the 97 green members of the newly-formed RC Chennai Medical Fraternity, during his visit to Chennai. All members of the new club, sponsored by RC Chennai Gemini, RID 3232, are either doctors, hospital owners or administrators. McInally handed over the charter to the new club president Dr S Muthukumar, orthopaedic surgeon and chairman of a Chennai hospital.
“The birth of a new Rotary club is like the birth of a child in our family. As a Rotary family, we celebrate the birth of every new club. Membership is the lifeblood of our organisation. I urge you to use RI’s new flexibility policy to establish new style clubs that would appeal to a different demographic,” he added.
RID A S Venkatesh complimented PDG I S A K Nazar, the district membership councillor, for bringing doctors together to Rotary. “The opportunity of forming this kind of a club happened seven years ago. Till 2016, Rotary had a policy of not allowing more than 10 per cent of the membership from the same vocation. With relaxed norms, we now have variety including cause-based clubs like RC Chennai Organ Donation sponsored by RC Madras. Promoting organ donation is its primary objective,” he said, and gave two suggestions to the new club.
“Sit together and create a five-year-plan that sets out the kind of service and fellowship activities and membership profile you would like to have. Let us not think one year at a time as it restricts our ability to think big and fly high.” This approach would allow continuity. He also urged them to keep all members engaged so that they do not lose interest in Rotary. Last year alone RI lost 150,000 members. People leave not because of too much work; but if no work is assigned to them, he said. “Give them the sense of ownership. Otherwise, they will withdraw and you will not realise that till they leave Rotary.”
DG N Nandakumar recalled his visit to the new club’s meeting when he asked the new members why they wanted to be in Rotary. “While I expected a reply like I want to expand my business or want to network, what I heard surprised me. They said, ‘we want to socialise and let down our hair. We want to do things beyond what we do as professionals.’”
During the Covid pandemic, RC Chennai Gemini had formed a WhatsApp group for over 300 doctors, including non-Rotarians, for better coordination of their services at the critical period. Later, Dr Ramesh Babu, the club’s membership chair, sent a message on the group asking those interested in Rotary to click on a link that was uploaded on the group. “When this link popped up, immediately everybody clicked on it. Doctors who are members in other Rotary clubs for the past 20–30 years, wanted to be a member of this club too, and they were ready to pay the membership dues yet again!” But that was not possible.
He pointed out that the district had three exclusive Rotary clubs — of former Rotaractors, Round Tablers and children of Rotarians. “There are 9,000 doctors in Chennai, but we have just 100 here,” said Nandakumar, urging more doctors to join Rotary.
Muthukumar, the new club president said, “We all want to create hope in our community and our focus will be preventive and affordable healthcare for all. You are welcome to use our club for your healthcare needs and to organise medical camps in your regions. We have doctors from all fields.”
He debunked the notion that doctors are too busy to participate in Rotary activities, and said they wanted to do more and add meaning to their lives. “I realised this when I attended a series of Rotary meetings recently. Our services are very much needed.”
RC Chennai Gemini had, earlier in Feb, sponsored a 30-member all women’s club, RC Chennai Maitreyi.
Picture by Jaishree