Indian conferences are almost like movies. They are all full of spirit and effervescence… it’s a rich experience to be here,” said the RI Director from Sweden, Mikael Ahlberg. He was the RI President’s Representative at the District Conference of D 3160 hosted by DG Madhuprasad Kuruvadi in Bengaluru.
“The Rotarians here are warm and friendly, very devoted to service. Being here, one can realise how powerful Rotary is in India,” he said. His spouse Charlotte added, “India is very special to us because of the energy, culture and love that are spread around the Rotarians and it is a pleasure to see so many Rotary supporters among the spouses. I see the potential for Rotary to grow even more here, by turning Rotary supporters into Rotarians.” Soon after the big event, the couple toured the famous ruins of Hampi near Hospet.
The two-day conference was hosted by four Rotary clubs of Chitradurga — RCs Chitradurga, Fort, Chinmuladri and the district’s only all-women club, Windmill City. Around 1,200 delegates registered for the event.
Ahlberg and Charlotte were “overwhelmed by the traditional welcome” accorded to them by the conference committee led by Conference Chair M K Ravindra and his wife Veda. This included the Purnakumbham replete with chanting of the slokas in Sanskrit. PRID Ashok Mahajan and Dr B N Suresh Rao, the founding Director of the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology, were the chief guests.
PRID Mahajan spoke on the topic, Giving is Living. Citing the generosity of Rajashree Birla, chairperson of the Aditya Birla Foundation, he said, “The Birlas know the value of money and its proper use. Thanks to people like her, our Polio Fund has contributed to making the world almost polio-free.” He also commended PDG Ravi Vadlamani (D 3150) for his recent contribution of $250,000. “No one asked him. He himself volunteered to become an AKS member.” Mahajan encouraged DG Madhuprasad to raise his District contribution goal to $265,000 from $250,000 to which the DG agreed. His home club RC Chitradurga has already raised $40,000 with all 56 members becoming PHFs.
Vadlamani explained the procedure for obtaining global grants through his session, Magic of grants. He encouraged the delegates to give to TRF and explained how TRF grants helped RC Guntur in his district to set up an operation theatre in a government hospital. “The ₹3 crore worth project was made possible through a global grant, while the club contributed just ₹ 6,000,” he said.
PDG Tikku (D 3150) asked the Rotarians to take from the Foundation. “Only after understanding the benefits, you’ll know the value of the Foundation and you’ll be strongly inspired to give,” he said.
Dr Rao, paying rich tributes to scientist Vikram Sarabhai and late president Abdul Kalam, spoke about the significance of developing a space programme and explained how it is helpful in every field. “The technology is indeed difficult, and hence the phrase ‘rocket science’ is commonly used when you set out to achieve a lofty task.”
A variety of speakers added spice to the event. Hilary Leav, RI’s Manager for Evaluation and Strategy, Evanston, spoke about RI’s strategic planning. While psychologist Lavanya Patel taught the audience how to translate their ‘pressures to pleasure’ and even had them groove to music, Laxmi Mai, a transgender rights activist, urged the delegates to educate their sons about gender sensitivity, so that they understand and respect women better, which will go a long way in reducing female foeticide and all other forms of abuse. She suggested the Rotarians set up night shelters for transgenders, most of whom are otherwise living on platforms, leaving them open to various risks. She recommended vocational skill training for the third gender to help their livelihood. “They don’t need your sympathy and reservations. Instead, give them an opportunity to live a decent life,” she said.
India is very special to us because of the energy, culture and love that are spread around the Rotarians and it is a pleasure to see so many Rotary supporters among the spouses.
– Charlotte Ahlberg
An informative session addressed by educationist Gururaj Karajagi had the audience’s rapt attention. Some food for thought from his session:
- Citing people like Mahatma Gandhi, Swami Vivekananda and Mother Teresa, he said, anyone who lived for himself shall not be remembered; one who lives for others shall not be forgotten.
- Don’t think people expect something from you always; sometimes a shoulder to lean on is just what they need.
- Show interest in other’s work however minimal it may be, for him it is a significant achievement.
- Teaching is the only profession that has a dialogue with the future.
- People do not follow what you say; they follow what you do.
When acclaimed TT champion Naina Jaiswal and her brother, Agastya, the Google Boy, demonstrated the art of chain memory to remember information, rather than blindly mug up which is common in schoolchildren, there was loud applause. Naina cleared her Grade 10 exam when she was 8 and now at 17, she is probably the youngest to do her doctorate. An equally gifted Agastya created history last year when he became the youngest boy to pass Intermediate examinations at 11.
Awards and recognitions
DG Madhuprasad felicitated Vomina Naga Satish Babu of RC Nellore for his contribution to the Endowment Fund, the first such donor of the district; Dr N B Sajjan for his consistent annual contribution of $1,000 for the past 28 years; and PDG Surendra Reddy for receiving the RI’s Distinguished Service Award. Dr Akbar Saheb of RC Ananthapur, who got State recognition for performing 65,000 free cataract surgeries, was also honoured. The Major Donors were feted by Director Ahlberg in the presence of the DG and RC Hospet was recognised for becoming a 100 per cent PHF club.
Pictures by Jaishree