Winds of change at Rotary
The COL (Council on Legislation) meet was held in Chicago in May, and many Rotary leaders have hailed it as a path-breaking one. As many as 180 proposals were discussed over the COL week and quite a few significant decisions were taken. That the RI dues for Rotarians will now go up by $4 a year for three years is a decision that is bound to cause some anxiety among Indian Rotarians. But then, as PRIP Raja Saboo put it at the COL, even though this was not a small amount in India, when he asked himself what Rotary had given him, he had to admit “Rotary has made me a better person.” And he couldn’t put a price on that! But more than the raising of RI dues, the lingo and the mood, as gauged, not from a snowing Chicago, but far away from a smouldering Chennai, was to usher in change. The RI leadership has finally decided to walk the talk; after endless debates on change — how to change, where to change, when to change, what to change — the COL has finally embraced change. And this change comes wrapped in a package of freedom and flexibility for the clubs. We’ve heard most senior Rotary leaders saying that “Rotary happens in the Clubs,” and not at the RI headquarters in Evanston. Well, now those clubs will be armed with the freedom to decide how often they meet, where they meet, what form or mode that meeting will take, but within the framework of at least two meetings a month.
Also, the stringent criteria on who can join a Rotary club have also been relaxed by Rotary’s legislative body; the earlier six criteria for membership have now been relaxed and replaced with the simple requirement that a person with good character, good reputation in the chosen profession and enthusiasm and willingness to serve the community can become a Rotarian. This is certainly bound to boost membership. Add to it the new rule that Rotaractors can now join Rotary clubs as ‘associate members,’ and the changing face of Rotary is amply evident. The best news for us at the Rotary News Trust is the mandatory subscription to at least one Rotary magazine — either the regional magazine or The Rotarian — has been reinforced. Of course if there are more than one Rotarian living at the same address, then they can get only one magazine. But when we match our subscription data to the number of Rotarians in India, and the total subscription to The Rotarian — which by the way comes at a price tag of $24, compared to sub-$7 (Rs 420) for Rotary News — we find there are a few thousand Rotarians out there who are not subscribing to any magazine. This is a serious breach with consequences which the club will have to face. According to the rule book, if we bring this to RI’s notice the defaulting clubs can face a range of issues including inability to participate in district nominations and elections and even suspension. As the new Rotary year approaches, both outgoing and incoming Presidents will do well to ensure that their clubs are not defaulters in this area.
Beginning this month, we’ve started a new feature — Club Corner — where four good projects of different clubs will be featured.