In colourful beach outfits, summer hats and floral garlands, the Rotarians of RID 3060 danced away, as they celebrated their 50th District Conference at a beach party in Goa. Before he addressed the Rotarians, RIPN Shekar Mehta said DG Anish Shah had achieved a “unique feat,” by having invited and ensured that all the top RI leaders in India make it to his District Conference. “This speaks volumes about the way he connects with us.”
The two-day conference titled GoldCon, hosted by RC Valsad, the DG’s home club, had over 1,500 delegates including GSE teams from Brazil, Mexico, and Vietnam and 12 RYE students from overseas. While PDG T N Subramanian was the RIPR, other participants included PRIP Kalyan Banerjee, RI Directors Kamal Sanghvi and Bharat Pandya, RIDN A S Venkatesh, Trustee Gulam Vahanvaty and PRID Manoj Desai.
Recalling his 3 am phone call with DG Anish Shah a day before the conference RIPN Mehta said, “I asked Anish why he hadn’t slept. He said ‘Sir, aap hi se sikha hai, conference ke bad solenge! (we have learnt from you to finish work first, sleep comes later)’. I would like to tell Anish, galat cheesein mat sekho humse (don’t learn bad habits from us),” he laughed.
Mehta thanked Banerjee, “my mentor with a large vision and great simplicity,” and complimented him for nurturing his district “in a fantastic manner. One visit to his club, RC Vapi, has changed my life.” Calling RID 3060 as one of the most outstanding districts in India, he pointed out seven Rotaractors from this district had becomes DGs.
He urged the delegates to understand the true spirit of ‘Service above Self’. “There is no organisation or business in the world which does not know the number of sales it has done or its assets. Why don’t we as Rotarians know the number of schools, blood banks, houses built, students trained. Imagine the pride each one of you will feel when we highlight those numbers. We are definitely a more than $400 million organisation.”
After recounting a little history of the district, Banerjee said: “Coming to our own conference is always such a pride, So DGE Prashant Jani and DGND Shrikant Indani, let me assure you, regardless of where you host the conference in your year, whether you go to Bangkok or to Colombo or Kathmandu, Binota and I, if we are still around, we will be there.” Congratulating the DG on his achievements, he added, “he has picked the best candidates to do everything and executed each task meticulously. He has every serving Indian Rotary leader here today. I am thoroughly impressed!”
Conveying RI President Mark Maloney’s message, PDG Subramanian said that “there is a responsibility on you Rotarians to fulfil your obligation towards the Rotary Foundation.” In 2015–16, “each and every club in your district had contributed to the Foundation. Anish, you have to make sure this happens again.” Echoing his words TRF Trustee Vahanvaty said, “while we are doing reasonably well in the Polio Fund we are lagging behind in our contribution to the Annual Fund and Endowment. We are far behind; we must contribute to the TRF. The world fund is low and this will impact global grants.” On the district’s 50th year, the Rotarians should set up a target of $2 million contribution to TRF, he added.
Pandya said that strengthening of clubs, humanitarian projects and enhancing public image of Rotary are priority areas. He appreciated the district clubs for taking up a number of community projects and advocating Project Positive Health and asked them to “continue the good work of making the world a better place.”
Sanghvi reminded Rotarians of the district “not to forget the people who have travelled with you in your journey of excellence. It is very important you respect the people who have guided you and remember your PDGs are your guiding light.” He talked about how important it is to “show gratitude” towards their spouses.
RIDN A S Venkatesh disclosed he had “invited” himself to the conference. “Shah said he had no slot for me. But I know how to make a Gujju say yes. I told him I could address the gathering on Business of Rotary, and he agreed instantly.” On a serious note, he asked the club presidents to “treat your club members as customers and make sure they are happy. Over the last seven years, we have lost many customers (members) and we don’t know the right way to attract new ones or keep back old ones. We have to work on this.”
PRID Manoj Desai said “many Rotarians ask me ‘What do I do to become the RI President?’” Pointing at a picture of RIPN Mehta on a boat with shelter kits on the large LCD screen, he said: “Conduct a few thousand paediatric heart surgeries, meet the children, greet the parents, pick them up and drop them to the airport, go to flood-affected areas, distribute shelter kits yourself and then maybe you can become one of the youngest RI President like Shekhar.” Working hard is the only key to climb up the ladder and “you have to do that selflessly,” he reminded the Rotarians in the hall.
DG Shah gave an overview of the of projects, membership, new clubs, Rotaract engagement and collection of funds. He thanked all the PDGs and club presidents who had helped him implement the strategic plan in the entire district. “You have helped me enhance Rotary’s public image and touch more lives, put me on a pedestal. Without your support, I would have never achieved all this.”
PDG Pinky Patel presented the accounts for 2018–19 followed by the district awards.The highlight of the conference were spectacular cultural performances from the GSE and RYE teams and Goan dance performances.
Pictures by Kiran Zehra