Utsav — the District’s Conference held for three days in Chennai wore a festive atmosphere. The Rotary Expo, open to the public, had something for everyone — stalls showcasing education, career counselling, healthcare, lifestyle and environment. This was the first such expo held along with the Conference in the District, said the Conference Chair George B Cherian.
While the keynote was delivered by R Chandrasekaran, Group Chief Executive of CTS, Prof Bala Balachandar, Founder and Dean of Great Lakes Institute of Management, CavinKare Chairman C K Ranganathan and Madhavan, CEO of CTS briefed the gathered on how best to connect with corporates on CSR, utilising their funds.
An interactive session with the Rotarians brought out some interesting queries ranging from how to identify the right corporate to tie up with, what the companies expect from Rotary for an ideal CSR partnership, and whether corporate companies can be inducted into Rotary as members. Just like the e-club and satellite club, Rotary clubs with corporate firms as members are functioning in the US and this is in the pilot stage, said PDG A S Venkatesh. Balachandar urged Rotarians to identify the community needs to effectively utilise CSR funds.
“Let us provide digital literacy in the villages; we are producing several engineers, we now have to address the next strata of the society,” said Chandrasekaran. This would give a better life to school drop-outs, and this is already happening. An OLA cab driver, for instance, may not be a graduate, but he is able to use his smartphone effectively, operate the GPS, and his job is made easier. But if digitally illiterate, he would be like any other taxi driver. Citing the more recent direct crediting of government subsidies to citizens’ bank accounts, he pointed out that being tech-savvy enough to operate their bank accounts using their mobile phones will make life easier for people. Digital literacy is all about teaching them such basic stuff. “At least one person in every family should be digitally literate to avail public services and enhance earning potential. Then the quality of work you churn out will be lot better.”
He warned that digital literacy should not be confused with computers or limited to schools. “It has to be included as part of your existence and should be natural. For a cabbie it becomes part of his existence to know what a smartphone is, how to operate the GPS.” So it becomes a natural fit for him to learn this technology to be effective on the job. Such technological deployment should happen in every vocation. Even if you have a formal education only with digital literacy will you be effective, he said.
To a question on what corporates expect from Rotary for CSR partnership, PDG A Subramaniam said that Rotary’s reach to the community is its major asset, but big companies look for continuity, accountability and financial stability. “We are ‘temperamentally’ a yearly organisation. Successive governors should create a nodal organisation through which CSR can happen.”
At least one person in every family should be digitally literate to avail public services and enhance earning potential.
RI Director Karen Wentz, the RI President’s Representative to the Conference, honoured C K Ranganathan with the RI Vocational Service Leadership Award in the presence of DG C R Raju. Ranganathan, a member of RC Madras East, said that even activities aimed at preserving our cultural heritage can be considered for CSR projects.
Raju summarised the projects done by various Rotary clubs under the District’s banner, ‘Sangamitra,’ which focussed on Literacy and WinS. Appreciating the Conference team he said, “it was exceptional in its organisation and content, with well-lineated areas for conference, House of Friendship, House of Fellowship and a Rotary Expo with over 100 stalls, a seminar hall and a food court. The content, well-chosen speakers, quiz session and entertainment were enjoyed by all. Kudos to the Chair George Cherian and the entire team.”
An MoU was signed between Britain, Ireland and District 3230 for inter-country cooperation to facilitate global grants between the two countries through an Inter-Country Cooperation Committee that was formed at the Conference. PDG Krishnan V Chari and Rtn Kevin Pitt are the National Coordinators of the Committee for their respective countries. PDG Mike Parry is the Vice Chair.
Promoting their cause
Various Rotary clubs had put up stalls showcasing their flagship projects. The Rotarians of RC Chennai Galaxy were marketing Surya and Panasonic LED lamps. The club has an arrangement with the two manufacturers by which they contribute a percentage of each sale billed across South Chennai to support treatment of Thalassaemmia patients. RC Chennai IT City had programmes to promote organ donation, RC Chennai Sun City was creating awareness about skin donation and RC Chennai Gemini was supporting women’s empowerment by marketing wares made by women SHGs and transgenders.
Pictures by K Vishwanathan