His consultation fee is Rs 50
This governor is passionate about global grants and has served eight years as the district grants committee chair and two consecutive years as club president. Zamin Hussain became a Rotarian in 1988 soon after completing MBBS from GRMC, Gwalior. “The first ten years I enjoyed Rotary only for the fellowship but today my whole life revolves around it. I’m everything because of Rotary,” he says.
As grants committee chair he had effected 22 matching grants for the district. “All the grants were for providing furniture to schools; 1,000 schools in 90 villages benefitted through our projects, so much so whenever a school needs something, the management is confident that ‘Rotarywale’ will take care of it.” The secret behind the success of these matching grants, he says, is in being transparent with the international partners, promptly replying to mails with correct data. “When our matching partner visits our district, we give them the list of schools where we have done the projects and let them choose the site they want to visit. This gives them the confidence that we do not manipulate with the grant money.”
Hussain strongly believes that Rotarians should strictly adhere to Rotary ethics. “Reforms should flow from the top. When leaders advise that there should be no election campaigning or any such malpractices, they should also follow that. Sadly, Rotarians are bigger politicians than politicians themselves,” he says. But despite these “small drawbacks” he loves Rotary and is hopeful that things will once again shine bright.
Service projects are a big boon and if done rightly, they can attract more members. He has asked his clubs to minimise unproductive expenses and channelise the money into projects. “No printing photographs of the president or governor in the banners. What is happening is that most of the time the leaders’ pictures are prominent and the Rotary Wheel is relegated to a corner!”
Also, he does not believe in people favouring leaders. “Last year when a Rotarian came up and said, “I’ll donate this much during your year,” I said, “Why wait for my year? Why not now? People’s sufferings can’t wait. Your timely donation will help people when it is most needed.”
The district has 2,100 Rotarians. “The membership status is rather grave but I will improve it by 20 per cent,” he says. His target for TRF contribution is $300,000 which is difficult to raise as most of the clubs are in tribal areas and people will “give to a masjid or a temple but will think twice to give to the Foundation,” he says.
He is encouraging his team to join hands with the Lions in doing service projects and has invited the Lions DG for his District Assembly. “He has also expressed interest to work together,” says Hussain.
He has never forgotten his father’s words: “Live frugally but donate generously for the downtrodden.” He charges just Rs 50 from his patients and treats about 100 patients daily. “They are all very poor and can’t afford huge medical bills,” he adds.
Will ensure continuity of projects
His main priority is of course to be the core theme of Rotary — Service Above Self. But within this parameter, DG Prafull Sharma will concentrate his energy on water. “I want to concentrate on the water crisis in rural areas. Of course, urban areas of India also face water shortage, but we urbanites often waste a lot of water without a thought for others. If we just take a little extra care and learn to conserve water, our brothers and sisters from rural areas, particularly our farmers, who are facing so much distress, will benefit,” he says earnestly.
Sharma’s second thrust area this year is renewable energy; once again he wants to spread the message of thoughtlessness that plagues most of urban India. “The maximum energy in our State is consumed in Mumbai and other big cities, and here too, we waste a lot of energy without a thought for areas that face so much power shortage and power cuts,” he rues.
His third area of focus is skill development. “In a metro like Mumbai we don’t get plumbers, electricians, AC mechanics, etc. So we are working on skill development too.”
A welcome resolve you hear from this DG is the magic word “continuity”. All ongoing service projects in his district are being continued by him. “My predecessor Gopal Mandhania has started paediatric heart surgery and diabetes control and management. Both are excellent projects and they are being continued.
I have decided that all the existing project which are benefitting the community will be continued without any prejudice. In fact, the incoming governor and the DGN have committed that they will continue the ongoing projects,” he adds.
Health care and greening the earth
This DG is focusing his energy on increasing membership, and his target during the year is a 15 per cent increase, “of which I want to ensure that five per cent, or one-third new members brought in are women and young people… under 45.” His other big area of focus is the health care sector, and with an eye on improving the medical care available to the community he has brought out a mobile app named HOPE — Hospital Project and Equipment. This is providing infrastructure support to clinical health care centres, public hospitals, taluk general hospitals and medical college hospitals. It also supports the vertical of the Kerala Chief Minister called Ardram (Mercy). “The State government is striving to improve health care facilities in existing public health and other health care centres, and we are supporting this initiative. Under HOPE, we are giving out health care facilities ranging from bedsheets to dialysis machines,” says DG Suresh Mathew.
He has also tied up with the Kidney Federation of India and under this partnership, a bus fully equipped with medical diagnostics and other facilities is going to villages and conducting chronic kidney disease awareness and detection drives.
Next, he wants to lend full support of his district to the RI President Ian Riseley’s push to green the world. “Unfortunately, while the green initiative of Rotary is known to the upper and the upper-middle classes, the lower classes know nothing about it. Would you believe it, there is quite a percentage of people in my district who call Rotary ‘Lottery’! So just to create awareness in the community and also enhance Rotary’s public image, we have come out with a green initiative called REAP —
Rotary Empowerment of Agricultural Production.” Also, under another green initiative called Planet Tree, a total of 1.5 lakh saplings are being sown. Another environmental initiative he has started is called ‘safe sound’ and under this Rotarians of the district are working to prevent or reduce noise pollution.
Happy Schools, his focus
He joined Rotary in 1990 as a charter member “to make friends and soon found it wonderful for personal growth,” says G N Prakash, who cherishes his assignment as GSE team leader for five youngsters to eastern Canada. “It was a fantastic experience, building new relationships and encouraging cultural exchanges. His spouse, Vijaya M S, is also a Rotarian and son, a Rotaractor, “has got an invite to join RC Bangalore.”
His focus is to provide e-learning facilities and WinS elements to government schools. All 80 clubs of the district are assigned a school each to be transformed into a Happy School. Taking cue from RI President Ian Riseley’s call for a green earth, his target is to plant three lakh saplings. It is achievable as there are 3,000 Rotarians in the district, he adds.
However, Prakash is worried about meeting his TRF goal of $350,000. Most of the clubs are in the rural belt and “already Rotarians spend Rs 30,000 towards dues, the district seminar and conference. So not many are enthusiastic about giving to TRF,” he explains.
But he is confident of membership growth, with a plan to induct 500 new members, mostly youth and women. He has chartered four new clubs out of 11 that he has on his list.
He wants to revive weak clubs
I never thought I’ll become a district governor. I failed in 2014 when I first filed my nomination,” says Sunil Saraf, who is a Rotarian since 1988 and was a Rotaractor since the age of 20. His tenure has been “hectic as I cover one of the largest geographical areas in the world; the district includes seven NE States, Sikkim and parts of Bengal. I need to travel at least 4–5 hours to reach a club and take all modes of transport — train, road and flight. Nevertheless, I enjoy every minute of my assignment.”
His main agenda is to breathe life into the weak clubs “that are in the ICU”. There are 12–13 such clubs in Bengal and Assam. “They know almost nothing about Rotary. When I visited a couple of them, the members were overjoyed and energised to do community projects,” he says.
Saraf wants to add 600 new members to the existing 3,000 and 150 new Rotarians have been inducted so far. He is working on setting up Rotary clubs in 12 new unrepresented areas. “Places such as Coochbihar, Bagdogra and Bokhakhat are growing towns; Rotary should have been there,” he says, listing out some of the areas.
His TRF contribution target is $400,000. He plans to set up dialysis centres in Jorhat, Siliguri, Durgapur and Malda, a blood bank in Raigunj and upgrade 58 government schools with the involvement of 58 Rotary clubs. “I have a global grant of $70,000 for the project,” he says.