I regret very deeply that our Rotary Foundation Chairman Kalyan Banerjee is not here, so I am going to propose a toast not only to our Foundation, our givers, but also to our beloved Chairman Kalyan Banerjee and Binota, who has some health problems, and so they could not be with us. But I know they would want us to say let us continue our fight to eradicate polio and do good in the world so that girls can get education, the blind can see and so many other people can benefit from the work we do.”
With these words RI President John Germ raised a toast to The Rotary Foundation at the gala TRF Centennial dinner held at the Hyatt Regency Deira during the Dubai Institute.
Inviting Rotarians to the 2017 Rotary Convention in Atlanta in June, where he promised them a “great birthday party” as TRF completed 100 years, he said, “You just now heard from RI Director Manoj (Desai) that last year India emerged No 1 in membership, No 2 in TRF giving. But tonight let us celebrate another important fact, that thanks to you, your friends, relatives and fellow club members, India is polio-free.”
TRF Trustee Representative Gary Huang said that while the TRF Centennial celebrations that began at Korea, and will conclude in Atlanta in June, as many Rotarians as possible should come to Atlanta, “all the clubs across the world are encouraged to hold their own events and activities to celebrate our Centennial. Chairman Banerjee has set this year’s total goal at $300 million and this goal includes contributions to endowments and PolioPlus funds.”
TRF Trustee and WinS Global Chair Sushil Gupta said India should celebrate the fact that from a “receiving country we have become a giving country.”
RID Desai said that while India’s goal for Foundation-giving this year was $26.5 million, RIDE C Basker has got a commitment of $31 million from his Trend Setters (DGEs) for the coming year. With Rotary becoming a preferred partner, CSR has become the new game changer, money isn’t a concern, and both corporates and Governments are trusting Rotary. “All this because of the DGs who continue to lead from the front.”
He recognised and honoured the DGs who had done exceedingly well the previous year — K P Nagesh (3190), Subhash Kulkarni (3140) Parag Sheth (3060). He particularly mentioned DG Keshav Kunwar (3292, Nepal) “from a small country that was affected by such a ghastly earthquake, and yet when PRIP K R Ravindran visited them, they changed their target from $800,000 to $1 million when I challenged them.”
Other DGs recognised were Dr N Subramanian and Sharat Jain from Districts 3011 and 3012. “Even from a small District such as Orissa (3262), which is considered backward, DG Brigadier Narayan Nayak came forward to become an AKS, as also DG Jaya Shah from Nepal, and Dr Vinay Raikar from D 3170,” he added.
Others who had pledged to become AKS members such as Jayantha Kumar, Harshad Mehta, Jafer N Sura, were honoured at the dinner. In his opening remarks RRFC Kamal Sanghvi listed others who had pledged to become AKS members. DG John Daniel, D 3211; PDG G A George, D 3211; DGE B M Sivarraj, D 3142; DGE Ajay Agarwal, D 3262; DGE Maullin Patel, D 3054 and DGE Abhay Gadgil, D 3131, had pledged to go up the level.
Pictures by Rasheeda Bhagat