RI President Barry Rassin and RI Director C Basker participated in the golden jubilee celebrations of RC Madras North, D 3232, on the sidelines of the Chennai Institute. RIDE Bharat Pandya was the chief guest and RI Director Eun-soo Moon was also present.
PDG G Olivannan and President Venkatesh highlighted their club’s significant journey over the past 50 years, including a wholesome development of Naapalayam village on the city’s outskirts. “We have made the village cataract-free,” said Olivannan.
President Rassin lauded the club’s endeavours. “We know that people out there need us and we Rotarians pull up our socks and say, ‘yes, we are here and we are going to make a difference.’ And I thank you for all those lives you have touched and transformed.” Director Basker urged the club to “build strong partnerships with corporates and undertake large projects. Your club must continue to serve for another 50 years and celebrate the centenary.”
RIDE Pandya said, “We live in a beautiful world but when we open the newspapers or switch on our TVs, all we read or see is more of darkness —
corruption, starvation, abuse and rape. And I always wonder if the small projects that we implement through Rotary can really make any difference”. But then, as Confucius said, “It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness. And I congratulate you for making a difference in so many people’s lives during this milestone journey. You have been removing the darkness, lighting hopes and daring people to dream.” Pandya also urged the audience to remember the hard work of all the stalwarts who have helped in sustaining the club for so long.
The club conferred the ‘Golden Jubilee Eminent Citizen Award’ on N Ram, Chairman, The Hindu group of publications. Ram commended Rotary for the successful eradication of Polio and the integrity with which the effort was done. “Keeping the cold chain without any compromise and delivering it to the rural areas — that work has been superior to any other country.” He touched upon the impact of the digital media over the print media and the various challenges faced by the media. “Corruption has affected news media and journalism as well. Unless those of us in the field recognise this, we will only be pointing fingers at others and will not be able to clean up the profession,” he said.
While many people in the news media thought that press freedom in India was at a high level compared to most developing countries, in the present scenario, the picture appeared far less bright, he said. This was due to two factors — laws that have been unreasonably interpreted and often misused so that they have a killing effect on free speech and a visible increase of intolerance in society.
“Defence and promotion of fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression must be taken up by all citizens as a top national priority. Having said that, it goes without saying that freedom comes with social responsibility and this applies to the press and other news media as much as it does to every citizen,” he added.
The club honoured its member Suresh Krishna with the ‘Most Valuable Citizen Award’.
Rassin also launched the ‘Rebuild 25’ project of RC Madras East. The club is the implementing partner for this $550,000 project, funded by Cognizant Outreach, the IT major’s CSR wing, to renovate 25 government schools. “Selection of contractors, execution and quality control were the club’s responsibility. A team led by Nagarajan, our member and an expert project manager, is handling the assignment very capably,” said the Club President R M Narayanan.
Rassin and Basker complimented the club for enhancing the learning experience for 8,000 students in the 25 schools. A coffee table book on this project was released on the occasion.
A bicycle rally, organised by RC Madras Midtown, involving 3,000 Rotaractors and Rotarians spreading the message of road safety, and an all-women’s car rally, organised by RC Chennai Meraki, to propagate literacy, women’s empowerment, environment protection and road safety were flagged off by the RI President and Director as part of the Institute.