If you want one year of prosperity, grow seeds, if you want 10 years of prosperity, grow trees, if you want 100 years of prosperity, grow people,’ goes an old proverb. That is our Rotary opportunity to grow Rotary by growing leadership and leaders in Rotary. This pandemic has opened doors of opportunities that we never imagined before. As it unfolds with increasing numbers, our leadership is put to test. I am happy to note that our governors have risen to the occasion with positivity and conviction, and reached out with a helping hand in a hundred ways — by setting up dedicated Covid care centres, plasma banks, focusing on cervical cancer vaccination, myriad other service projects and moving forward with full force for Project Positive Health — a project to stop NCDs, which is vital for our communities as shown by the pandemic. They have proved the fact that ‘kites rise against, not with, the wind’. Challenges have made us stronger, more committed, relevant and effective.

As Rotarians, we would do well to remember that we have to do our best, focus on excellence and not be content with mediocrity. Excellence comes from inside. It’s an attitude. Aim to be the best, not because someone tells you to, but because you want to be the best. When you choose the path of excellence, you will bring to it your best and in return you will receive the best. The best leaders are servant leaders. They care about serving. Mahatma Gandhi said it so well: “No matter how insignificant the thing you have to do, do it as well as you can, give it as much of your care and attention as you would give to the thing you regard as most important. For it will be by those small things that you shall be judged.” There are no small jobs. Each project, each activity is important and needed.

September is Basic Education and Literacy month. Helping someone to read and write effectively or acquire basic math skills we all take for granted, improves the future of everyone in society. Literacy is key to making our world more sustainable, peaceful and secure. Education has the power to transform people’s lives. Parents from even the poorest families long to give basic education to their children, so that they do not have to face the terrible handicaps their parents had faced. Who can do it? It is you and I — we as Rotarians who can do it. Our work is more critical than ever as the pandemic keeps millions out of school who have no access to virtual classrooms.

The pen is truly mightier than the sword. As Rotarians we must ensure that more of our children are able to hold and wield the pen. That is our Rotary opportunity. Let’s do it.

Dr Bharat Pandya,
RI Director, 2019-21

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