A promise to the North East

Move over Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru; at this magazine, we have decided to turn both our time and energy to focus also on the smaller clubs that are not located in the metros of India but where the members are doing their bit to improve the lives of the people in their communities. And, slowly, but surely, changing the face of India. So while the last issue focused on a relatively small club in a small town of India — RC Jalna Midtown, which is doing a remarkably simple and scalable project to provide safe and pure drinking water to the schoolchildren and their families in the far-flung villages around Jalna town, this month, your Editor grabbed the opportunity and accepted an invitation to visit, address and cover an international conference — Setubandhan (building a bridge) of the two districts of 3240 (North East of India, and parts of West Bengal) and 3282 (Bangladesh), organised in Agartala, the capital of the tiny North Eastern State of Tripura. The huge demand from the Rotarians of District 3282 came as quite a shock for the organisers and the host club — Rotary Club of Agartala City. President of the club Dr S K Banik said that though a small club with only 40 members, they took on the challenge, for the first time ever, of organising an international conference with 800 delegates. Finding rooms, and organising transport and other facilities for the 660 delegates from Bangladesh… yes there were only 140 from India… was indeed a big challenge, but then turning the difficult, if not impossible, into possible is the Rotary spirit; isn’t it?

So during those two days you couldn’t go around the tiny, but so beautifully green town of Agartala, without bumping into a Rotarian. And the queues at the opening night’s dinner had to be seen to be believed! When I expressed my surprise at the spanking clean city, Dr Banik said that the municipality cleaners are out at 5 am on the roads. “And do you know that while everybody talks about Kerala, our literacy rate is 100 per cent; and maternal and infant mortality rates much lower than the rest of India? And we have a maximum number of institutionalised deliveries; I should know because I am a gynaecologist by profession!” Both he and D 3240 DG Sunil Saraf said the Rotarians in the district were looking for projects that were not only unique but also sustainable. I have come away after promising the DG that Rotary News will feature, in detail, one or two of the better projects being done by the Rotarians in the northeast region in the near future.

Following the publication of our commitment to make the coverage of Rotary News pan-Indian and not confined to the South or the metros — Chennai has a natural advantage because the RNT headquarters is located here — Rotarians from smaller cities are now approaching us to cover their projects. We have requests from Tirunelveli and Surat and will soon cover these projects… by visiting the town or village and telling the story from the ground level, the best way to tell a story. So irrespective of the size of your club or the city you belong to, do keep pitching ideas and proposals to cover your iconic projects. Your best chance of getting a project covered in detail: Tell us how you are impacting lives and livelihood in any of the core areas of Rotary — health, education, economic impact, environmental benefits, and above all, offering hope to the hopeless that with your help they can usher in a better tomorrow for themselves and their children.

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Rasheeda Bhagat

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