The Indore Institute, with RI Director Bharat Pandya as convener and Raju (T N) Subramanian as chairman, is bound to be remembered for a long time, for several factors. One, it was held at Indore, a city that has not been on too many people’s bucket list of travel. But once you drive from the airport to your hotel and then slowly explore the city — unfortunately my exploration was limited to the first evening immediately after landing, checking in and dashing out to the Sarafa Bazaar for an unforgettable street food experience — you marvel at the clean and green look it greets you with. The choice of the venue — the sprawling Brilliant Convention Centre — even though a constant trial for somebody geographically-challenged like me, allowed a comfortable spreading out of the various sessions. A big plus point was sufficient space for the meals, mercifully sparing the delegates the need to wrestle with others to spoon out food on their plates. This can be a huge challenge when there are over 1,000 participants for the event. Also, whether people admit it or not, variety, taste, presentation, and the comfort in which you can have your food, form a very big part of the experience of any huge and important event. And the Institute organising committee got it right on all the four counts. Bless the soul who thought of including pani puri at all the dinners! It was delicious.
The choice of speakers was great too. Whether it was Indore’s woman Mayor Malini Gaur, the moving force behind Indore topping the charts on the cleanest city front, or Dnyaneshwar Bodke, who has organised famers into profitable organic farming, Triveni Acharya, who has pulled out 5,000 girls/women from the clutches of prostitution, or Manasi Joshi, who after losing a leg in a road accident eight years ago, has won a gold at the Para-Badminton World Championships… they all touched a tender spot in your heart and triggered a thousand thoughts in
One of the liveliest sessions at Indore was the panel discussion on grants and stewardship, where several participants expressed concern and raised queries on the disapproval of global grants and how this could dampen Indian Rotarians’ enthusiasm to do “bigger, better and bolder projects” in a year when Rotary celebrates its centennial in India, with Rotary Club of Calcutta turning 100 on January 1, 2020. A quick response from incoming TRF Trustee Chair K R Ravindran and RI General Secretary John Hewko, who were both on the panel, that they would look into the queries raised and come back within three months with detailed answers, went down well with the audience.
But above all, it was the way Pandya, only too aware of how our speakers never stick to the time allotted to them, managed the proceedings, and watched the clock like a hawk, never hesitating to gently but firmly request a speaker past his/her deadline to wind up, that kept the sessions mostly on time. The teary-eyed hug he and Subramanian exchanged in the final moments of the Institute gave one insight into the kind of efforts, hard work and grind that go into the planning and execution of a Zone Institute. The supporting role played by Madhavi, quiet and understated, but always there, should be the most important takeaway for the spouses of the incoming governors.