Dazzled by India TRF Trustee Julio Sorjús shares with Rasheeda Bhagat his impressions of the Chennai Institute and Rotary India.

I have attended many Institutes around the world but this one has been the most outstanding, given the high level of the moderators, panelists and speakers and the numerous subjects covered. The two speakers that impressed me most were the Pakistani MP Ayesha Raza Farooq, who gave us, with clarity of mind, a strong message about the End of Polio in her country given the enormous difficulties they face, not only in some isolated areas  but also with some criminals trying to sabotage it. We were horrified to learn that so many vaccinators have been killed doing their humanitarian job.

The second was the 95- years old Dada J P Vaswani who delivered a loving peace message under “Light Up Rotary.” I liked its transcendent content very much. RIPE Ravi also delivered a strong message giving all of us his thoughts on his future presidency. I concur with the content of his message.

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The Chennai Declaration on Rotary Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan and the encouraging letter from the India Prime Minister Narendra Modi showed the exceptional and close relationship between the Government and the Rotary leaders of India. Since 1999 I have visited India several times under the presidency of PRIP Rajendra K Saboo when I was Governor, and also as Aide to PRIP Kalyan Banerjee. Both leaders have always been an example of what a Rotarian should be. As Mahatma Gandhi said, to me their life is their message.

Thanks to receiving the ‘Rotary News’ magazine and some Indian Governors’ monthly letters, I’ve followed the huge increase in membership and contributions to The Rotary Foundation, and the enormous success in ending polio in India, which Indian Rotarians and Government worked together to achieve. I am impressed by Rotary India and give them a 10.

Magic show

At the Chennai Institute, the first nice surprise was the Magician’s performance which was astonishing. I paid a lot of attention to all his movements to discover his tricks but to no avail. I still wonder how he did it!

The performance by Ms Radhika Shurajit’s troupe was outstanding; I took a lot of pictures! The Spastic children’s performance was so amazing that sometimes I thought we were in front of professional dancers.

Flag ceremony

The flag ceremony was very moving, particularly when the Spanish flag appeared and its national anthem was played. The Rotaractors’ film reminded me of a similar one we watched at the Opening Ceremony at the Sydney Convention. The filming and commentaries were excellent and gave us a broad idea of places and history of their ports of call.

The fellowship, warmth and the determination to do good in the world of all the participants I met is undoubtedly the magic of Rotary service in action. Convenor RID P T Prabhakar and his wife Nalini took care of all the details, resulting in the huge success of the Institute. The organising committee led by PDG Raja Ramakrishnan, with help of his wife Rajalakshmi, and the Sergeant-at-Arms PDG Babu Joseph did a great job.

A quick visit to Dakshin Chitra, a unique centre for arts, crafts and architecture, allowed Carmen and I to know South India better. We also enjoyed the farewell dinner with President Gary and First Lady Corinna offered by the Convenor and the Institute Chair at the Madras Club, considered to be the best of its kind in the country.

Before arriving to Chennai we paid a short visit to the Kochi and Kollam Districts whose Governors ­Venugopalan Menon and K S ­Sasikumar took great care of us with a warm and welcoming hospitality. In each District we visited several clubs and projects, and attended a Polio Seminar.

The event in Chennai was so bright and uplifting, just like the International Assembly and Convention events.

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RI Director Bharat Pandya is Treasurer for Rotary International for 2020-21, when Holgar Knaack will be RI President, JohritaSolari will be the Vice President and Stephanie Urchick, the Executive Committee Chair.