Managing his company, and playing a mentoring role in the pharmaceutical sector takes up much of his time, but that does not hinder Rtn S V Veeramani from giving back to society what he has received from it. “It was IPDG S Muthupalaniappan (2020–21) who inspired me to give to The Rotary Foundation. But when I was DRFC during the tenure of PDG Raja Seenivasan (2012–13), my team really worked hard to get two AKS members and commitment from two more Rotarians to join the elite club soon, ” he recalls. At that time, PDGs Seenivasan, Jawarilal Jain, RID 3231, and Rtn Ganesan from RC Maraimalainagar joined the AKS club. “I gave $120,000 to TRF and kept on adding $10,000–20,000 each year from then on. Last year (20–21), my total cumulative giving to TRF crossed $250,000, to take me to the AKS level.” His total contributions stand at $290,000 at present.
Looking back at his 25-year Rotary journey, Veeramani, a member of RC Adyar, RID 3232, says, “it has been a thoroughly enjoyable one as I carry pleasant memories of friendship, fellowship and being part of many community projects. My association with Rotary will be lifelong.” The founder-chairman of Fourrts India Lab, exporters of drug formulations and a major pharma player, says that his wife, Radha, who is the JMD, “has been very supportive, inspires me and is behind all the decisions I have taken in my life.”
What attracts him to Rotary is its larger philosophy of supporting the community through “bonding with fellow Rotarians as we all come together for a noble cause to do good in the world.” The couple has two daughters, Dr Gayatri and Dr Nitia.
Veeramani was the past president of the Indian Drug Manufacturers Association and “I also provide mentorship to pharma companies and startups.”
He will be taking over as chairman of the Pharmaceuticals Export Promotion Council of India (Pharmexcil) next year. “As Pharmexcil vice-chairman, my work is hectic. But being a Rotarian is a great experience, as TRF, district governors and club presidents do some really big projects in health, education, environment, women and child welfare,” he smiles.
A passion for giving
Why should a Rotarian contribute to TRF? Listening to Rtn Natanasabapathy Sundaravadivelu (Sundar) from RC Coimbatore, RID 3201, who was earlier a Rotaractor, you are convinced that the Foundation grants play a great role in making the world a better place. So far, he has given more than $260,000 (over ₹2 crore) to TRF. “Three years back, I decided to become an AKS member and my wish was fulfilled last year (2020–21). The inspiration to join the elite club came from within,” says Sundar, a lawyer who joined Rotary 22 years ago. Waxing eloquent on the Foundation, he continues, “TRF is one of the foremost achievements of Rotary. It has brought fragrance into the lives of needy people in our communities; and all Rotarians and others who have contributed to TRF have lit lamps within their own hearts.”
Jogging down memory lane, he recalls that being a GSE team member (1986–87) has “changed my entire outlook on life.” Till then, he had been a DRR and an active Rotaractor from 1976. His wife S V Murugambal, also a lawyer, has also contributed to TRF. “You can say our entire family has given to TRF as we are all earning members.”
His son Pravin Rathinam, a lawyer, and daughter Preethi who runs a pharma business, have also chipped in with their contributions. A DGND, Sundar is looking forward to his stint as DG in 2024–25. “My family will continue to give to TRF as it is doing noble projects for the welfare of humanity,” he says.
Rotary’s goodwill is magical
For Ambalavanan M donating to charities “is an addiction. But TRF’s transparency, prudence and high stewardship inpsired me to become an AKS member. When you donate $105 to Rotary you know that $100 will be given to the actual project and $5 will be used as processing fees, unlike other organisations that use 20–25 per cent of the donated amount for admin expenses. As a DRFC
I know how TRF uses my dollars.” A member of RC Madras Midtown, RID 3232, he believes that “Rotary is better than religion. The discipline that the Four-Way Test brings into your life is amazing.”
The goodwill of Rotary as a brand, he says, is “magical! It can make almost anything happen!” His most memorable moment in Rotary was during 2013, when as club president, he “organised and executed the Kashmir to Kanyakumari cycling rally, where 22 participants rode 4,800km, through the changing landscape of India, to promote Swachh Bharat and WinS.”
Ambalavanan himself rode 700km along with the participants and “it was an adventure that led us to organising a cycling event Tour de Rotary in 2014 and 2015. Tamil Nadu DGP Sylendra Babu, then ADGP, who participated in that event was so inspired by the sporting activity that he spoke to our current chief minister M K Stalin to lay a cycling lane in Chennai. We have one now,” he beams. He is also a member of Rotary’s Global Yoga and Meditation Fellowship and devised the Rotary World Peace Minutes programme, “a 10-minute initiative to promote meditation and prayer for peace.”
He has donated $175,000 and has committed to contribute $25,000 more to the TRF this year, and another $50,000 next year. In addition to that, he has donated $100 to TRF’s Environment Fund. Since 2015 he is a member of the Paul Harris Society (PHS). “I was the first Rotarian from RID 3232 to join the PHS. There is lack of knowledge about the Foundation programmes and the various funds. I want to train and mentor Rotarians on this subject.”
His way of inspiring people to give to TRF is “not traditional. I don’t ask people for a single dollar. I talk to them about some of the great projects made possible by the Foundation and show them how their investment can multiply the good work done by TRF.” Geetharani, his spouse, is “a highly spiritual person and she helped me understand the value of service better. She is supportive of my decision to give to the Foundation,” says Ambalavanan.