If the barometer of any Zone Institute is the level of the gung-ho mood in the participants, then the Chennai Institute with the theme Passion to Serve notches up a very high score. Whether it was RI or Rotary’s leadership in the zone, led by RI President Barry Rassin himself representing the former and the latter led by Past RI Presidents Rajendra K Saboo and K R Ravindran, RI Director C Basker, TRF Trustee Gulam Vahanvaty and RIDEs Bharat Pandya and Kamal Sanghvi, the incoming Governors, the trainers and other RI officers who participated, the mood was infectiously positive and optimistic. And the single-most important reason for this was the buzz on everyone’s lips…the unbelievably generous donation of ₹100 crore ($14.7 million at the conversion rate on July 1, 2018) by RC Bangalore Orchards President D Ravi Shankar and Paola. The couple, who were given a grand reception and honoured at the Institute, were the cynosure of all eyes, and by his simplicity and candidness, in a question-answer session with D 3190 DG Suresh Hari, the person who persuaded him to make this stunning donation, Ravi Shankar conquered many hearts at the Institute.
This donation, which is the talk of the entire Rotary world — PRIP Mat Caparas also mentions it (see the Letters column) — set the tone at the TRF dinner held to honour major benefactors of the Foundation. President Rassin, Director Basker and Trustee Vahanvaty said that this shot in the arm would help motivate other Rotarians to give to TRF, keep India’s head held high, and in a chain effect help improve thousands of lives across the globe in areas of health and nutrition, water and sanitation, literacy, livelihood etc.
Whether it was the quality of training, frank and serious talk (some of it in the popular Frankly Speaking session moderated by PRIP Ravindran, see Page 16), the ease and comfort with which the participants asked some tough questions to their leaders at various sessions, or the fun and music at Chennai Nite, the Institute Committee led by PDG and Convener ISAK Nazar, pulled out all stops to make this Institute a memorable one.
The icing on the cake was the grand reception accorded to RIPN Sushil Gupta and Vinita, who came straight from their intensive training session at Evanston after “drinking from a fire hose”, as Gupta jocularly remarked (Pg 47), to get blessings from Lord Venkateswara through an archana performed in Tirupathi and the prasad delivered in Chennai.
That Rotary is at its best while doing service to the community it inhabits was aptly demonstrated by Director Basker who spared no opportunity to request the DGs, DGEs, and other leaders assembled, that they keep their hearts open to help rebuild the homes of those rendered homeless in the devastating flood that battered Kerala and parts of Karnataka. Under the chairmanship of PRIP Kalyan Banerjee, who has rich experience in rebuilding low-cost shelters after the Bhuj earthquake, a committee has been formed to oversee the reconstruction work in these districts. Yet another huge opportunity for Rotary to leave its mark on the community, but for that your generosity is essential…