In less than a month, RID 3190 lost three extraordinary Rotarians — past district governors S Uday Kumar (1989–90), Dr Prithvi Raval (2000–01) and U B Bhat (2008–09) creating a huge void. I was privileged to have been associated with these leaders who shaped my Rotary journey.
My first meeting with Bhat (U B) was when our club chartered his home club with him as charter president — Rotary Bangalore South Parade — in June 1996. In spite of his academic and professional achievements — an engineering graduate from REC Surathkal and post-graduate from IIM-Ahmedabad, brilliant marketing career in United Breweries — U B was a simple and down-to-earth friend to everyone. He was one of the passengers on board Flight IC 814 from Kathmandu to New Delhi on Dec 24, 1999, which was hijacked to Khandahar. UB captured those excruciating, restive hours in his book Terror on Board. I closely worked with him during 2002–03 when he was conference chairman and during the centennial Rotary year, when I was the district membership chairman and his home club hosted ICGF (Inter City General Forum) on club service. He was the chairman. To increase participation in ICGF he designed a special lapel pin and honoured all Rotarians who had completed 25 years in Rotary. When he was elected DG for 2008–09, he called me and said, “I know your passion in Avoidable Blindness (AB) but I also want you to be deputy district trainer.” He entrusted me the responsibility of developing training programmes for AGs training, PETS and SETS. That year, our district launched Cataract (backlog free) RI District 3190 project and we have come a long way in reducing blindness due to cataract.
I recall my first meeting with Dr Raval in July 1999, to finalise dates for my installation as president and the Governor’s Official Visits as he was taking over as DG during 2000–01. This initial meeting immediately struck a chord between us, for he and I were both very strict about punctuality. During 2002–03, when he was appointed the regional AB coordinator for South Asia, he requested the incoming DG Bhansali to appoint me as the district AB committee chairman. Thus began my long journey with AB which got me the Service Above Self Award. Raval initiated the International Fellowship of Motorcycling Rotarians — India Chapter in 2003 making it a second-level Major Donor to TRF.
When I joined Rotary in 1988, Uday was the DGE. He developed several MG projects to ensure water availability in 40 villages by restoring wells and building storage tanks. He was particular that once a person was invited to join Rotary, he should become a life-time Rotarian and would stress on inviting the right professionals after thorough verification and ensuring that they understand Rotary’s motto — Service Above Self.
Uday Kumar was a regular speaker at club meetings and the topic mostly was on Model Club, which was his passion. He was one of the staunch supporters of the Rotary Leadership Institute — educating Rotarians to become great leaders through training and collaboration. He motivated everyone to think big and Dr Srinagesh Simha, past president of Rotary Bangalore Indiranagar, recalls how Dr Kishore Rao, Gurmeet Randhawa and he worked passionately and conceptualised the club’s signature project — Karunashreya, a hospice in 1994.
All the three past governors were recipients of the Service Above Self Award.
May their souls rest in eternal peace!
(The writer is chairman – district Avoidable Blindness committee, RID 3190.)
Vinod Bansal: a devoted Rotarian
Vinod Bansal was a dedicated and highly qualified professional in field of finance, local and international, and a renowned corporate consultant. As a devoted Rotarian, he has worked in every area of focus with distinction. He became district governor for RID 3010 in 2013–14 after a trailblazing start in Rotary in 2001. His term was marked with consistent successes and new milestones for Rotary at the district, national and international level.
Bansal was a member of the prestigious Investment Committee of The Rotary Foundation for 2019–22. He raised the maximum funds for TRF as DG, as ARRFC for two years and now as EMGA. He raised a record $1.7 million 2013–14, which was the highest contribution to the Annual Fund in the world.
Taking charge as president of the Rotary Blood Bank in 2016–2020, Bansal transformed the institution with his clear understanding of its potential to fulfil the current needs of society by making bold choices and futuristic investments in upgrading infrastructure and expanding activities.
His commitment to the future of Rotary was inspirational. His compassion, excellence and focus drove him to lay the foundation of a long-lasting vision for Rotary, with a clear focus on the role India played in this story. No wonder he was invited to serve as member of Shaping Rotary’s Future Committee for 2021–22.
First among equals, he always led from the front. Every single colleague remembers him as a humanitarian who rose to each challenge with grit and enthusiasm, identifying opportunities even in adversity. His keen acumen and unique charm helped shape many formative Rotary projects and sustainable collaborations; “no” was just not an option.
He is dearly missed and his legacy is carried forward by his wife, Sangita Bansal, also a Rotarian, daughters Damini and Aishani, son-in-law Neil and all his cherished friends and colleagues around the world and in Rotary.
(The writer is daughter of late PDG Vinod Bansal)