First Thoughts – January 2015 issue

Dear Fellow Rotarians,


My Flag My India creates history
RI President says it is a grand victory!
A super venue in Grand Chola
Great speakers make it a memorable mela
 “Vanakkam Chennai” with a celebrity mix
Chapter six was a “heady fix”!

January ushers in the New Year bringing with it the much needed warm feelings of friendship generated by the exchange of gifts and greetings to counter the chill weather, and usher in a grand New Year. I extend my sincere season’s greetings to all and hope that the New Year brings you peace, prosperity and happiness!

The mega event in Chennai on December 7 has put India on top of the Rotary world once again! Rotarians of District 3230 organised the largest ever PR event in Rotary’s history of 108 years. Fifty thousand Rotarians, Rotaractors and citizens of Chennai formed our National Flag, together with the ‘Keep India Polio Free’ message, creating a Guinness World Record! Alongside, the participants presented 50,000 Rotary wheels simultaneously, a grand spectacle! Kudos to DG ISAK Nazar, who put together the biggest and best Rotary Day! This huge PR event in December was a precursor to January, designated by RI as Rotary Awareness month.

The Rotary Institute, Vanakkam Chennai (December 9–14), was a spectacular event. After an informative GETS (Governors Elect Training Seminar) attended by 39 DGEs which included one each from Bangladesh and Nepal and 5 adjunct seminars for DG, DGN, District Trainer, COL representative, DRFCs and District Membership Chairs, we moved on to a gala TRF recognition dinner and a remarkable TRF Seminar.

With 900 delegates this was one of the finest Institutes in recent times and all credit goes to Institute Chair Raja Ramakrishnan and his dedicated team of Rotarians.

The inaugural function was a beautiful blend of Dances of India, the boat journey of the flags along the Coromandel Coast, RI President’s inspirational address followed by glittering display of fireworks.

We were privileged to have RIP Gary and Corinna, RIPE K R Ravindran and Vanathy, Trustee Julio Sorjús and Carmen, RID Larry Lunsford, RID Safak Alpay and Deniz, RIDE Frederick Lin, Trustee Jackson and of course all the senior leaders from India. The participants came from 11 countries to make this a truly international event.

Great speakers like Dada Vaswani, Vijay Amritraj, Union Minister ­Venkaiah Naidu, BK Shivani, CTS Vice Chair  Lakshmi Narayanan, besides senior Pakistan Education Minister Nisar Khuhro and Pakistan MP, Ms Ayesha Raza Farooq inspired the delegates.

The icing on the cake was the presentation of the Polio Ambassador Award to music maestro A R Rahman who was humble and gracious in accepting the award.

With 900 delegates this was one of the finest Institutes in recent times and all credit goes to Institute Chair Raja Ramakrishnan and his dedicated team of Rotarians.

Rotary awareness encompasses twin aspects of internal and external awareness – Rotarians’ perception of Rotary and the common man’s perception of a Rotarian.

It is said that a well informed Rotarian is a better Rotarian. Rotary today has grown into a multi-­dimensional organisation with activities in multifarious areas.

There are 34,558 Rotary clubs in 536 districts across 202 countries with a combined membership of 12,20,115 Rotarians.  RI is a very large family indeed. The attainment of Rotary’s goals and its continued enhancement would become distant unless each member fully understands the intrinsic nature of Rotary and makes the spirit of Rotary service a part of himself.

Rotarians are not born — ­Rotarians are made. And in this process, knowledge about Rotary plays a vital role.

I’d like to recall, again, the thoughts of William T Sergeant, who after 12 years of membership, no office, little contribution and worst attendance record was asked to write the Club bulletin.

He loved it and five years later, became District Governor and later RI Director, and Chairman of the ­International PolioPlus Committee for over a decade!

There are many Bill Sergeants among us. Relevant information about Rotary could be the catalyst to trigger a chain of enthusiastic reactions with exciting possibilities!

I request all Rotary leaders to ensure that Rotarians are imparted Rotary knowledge through relevant Rotary information, inspiring speeches of senior Rotary leaders, quiz and Rotary information in Club bulletins.

He who sees further than others can give the world, vision. He who forgets himself in doing things can give the world, action. He who serves and serves selflessly can give the world, the religion of Rotary.

This new year let us correct the common man’s perception of Rotary as an elitist organisation of members wearing Rs 40,000 suits, driving Rs 40 lakh cars and enjoying ₹4000 dinners. Let’s lift the veil of misperception and ignorance and show Rotary as it truly is — a splendid service organisation with wonderful projects like PolioPlus. Public goodwill is of paramount importance to the continued survival and well-being of Rotary and therefore public relations assumes great significance. I urge all Rotarians to involve the media — including social media — in projects wherever possible, as its reach is mindboggling. Their help in spreading awareness about Rotary would be beneficial to its cause.

The philosopher, William James said,“The greatest use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.”

As Rotarians, let us exemplify this philosophy, spending part of our lives in the development of an organisation we are privileged to serve, which is dedicated to the principle of “Service above Self” and an organisation that will outlive our own earthly span. Someday, our decisions and performance will be audited by future generations and we must prepare ourselves to face that test.

Let’s spread Rotary Awareness
With Pride and devotedness
Rotarians like you and me
Are builders of eternity.
To each is given a book of rules.
A wonderful club and projects as tools
And each must build before his/her time has flown
Towards the future a stepping stone.

Together, let us build stepping stones towards a new world order!

Yours in Rotary,




P.T. Prabhakar
Rotary International (2013–15)



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