Golden Jubilee Governor
He is a second-generation Rotarian. His father, Pradyuman Shah, was a Rotarian for 40 years and mother Hansaben had served as District Inner Wheel Chair in 1987–88. “As an annet, I remember seeing a much younger PRIP Kalyan Banerjee in club meetings when I used to accompany my father in the ’80s,” says Anish Shah, adding that the entire college of governors was known to his father. “When he died in 2010, PRIP Banerjee (I call him uncle and Binotadi, aunty) came for the funeral. He was RIPE then. He would say that my father was his competitor as governor. Likewise, PRID Manoj Desai too is close to our family.”
It was his father’s ambition to serve as governor and Shah is happy to fulfill his dream.
He is excited about his district celebrating its golden jubilee and has lined up 5,000 service projects worth Rs 100 crore for the year. “We have executed 1,500 projects so far, benefitting at least 15 lakh people. We focus on maternal and childcare, WinS and literacy.”
He is confident of increasing his district membership which is now at 4,045, to 5,000 by the yearend. Clubs have inducted 600 new members but they have not been registered in My Rotary yet.
His target for TRF contribution is $1.5 million. “I am aiming at 100 per cent Rotarian-participation for contribution. Last year only 39 per cent Rotarians contributed to TRF. If every member can donate at least $25, which is a minimum cost of a family dinner, the district can top the records,” he says.
Swati, his wife, is a Rotarian of RC Valsad and hopes to lead the club soon.
A long way from a green Rotarian
He joined Rotary in 1996. Ranjeet Singh Saini recalls how he has transformed from a green Rotarian not knowing his district number or club name to taking on the mantle as governor. It happened when he was on his honeymoon trip to Darjeeling. While he and his wife Rajjo were visiting a handicrafts shop, he saw the Four-Way Test poster stuck on the wall, and asked the shop owner if he was a Rotarian. The excited owner asked Saini about his club name and district number. “Until then I did not know about this concept of club or district name. All I knew was I was a Rotarian,” he laughs. Later the shop owner arranged for the couple’s trip to Gangtok.
Saini likes the ground level work that Rotarians are performing and “there are many backstage Rotarians who do not do things for fame or name. They do service projects because they empathise with people,” he says.
He is proud that his district has done very well in membership, adding almost 12 per cent new members. But he is concerned about the under-reporting of members in some clubs. “There are members who are Rotarians for 10 years or even more, but they do not have a registration number. The best way to address this issue is that Rotarians must insist to get the registration number given by RI.”
On TRF giving, the district’s target was $120,000 but “we have already raised $300,000 till now. My club alone has given $110,000 and $35,000 was raised during my installation,” he smiles.
His plans for the year include performing cataract surgeries worth Rs 4 crore and setting up an operation theatre worth Rs 2.9 crore at the Satya Sai Hospital in Raipur, both with global grants. Conducting RAHAT medical camps are also on his agenda. “We have completed one in Mandla that benefitted 100,000 people, two more are planned at Korba and Jabalpur before the yearend.”
He is a State-level badminton champion and his wife Rajjo is a member of RC Raipur Queens.
Growing Rotaract is his priority
Youngsters must join Rotaract to experience how it enriches their lives. Mine has been shaped beautifully since my Interact and Rotaract days, and I am still learning as a Rotarian,” says Sanjay Agrawal enthusiastically. He was an Interactor in the 1970s and Rotaractor from 1982–88, before joining his Rotary club in 1989.
Agrawal is keen on promoting adult literacy and child development. “We are doing lot of work in setting up e-learning classrooms too,” he says.
He wants each member to introduce at least one person to Rotary and is “sure with 3,478 existing members, we can double the figures.” So is his strategy in raising funds for TRF: “I have asked each Rotarian to contribute $100.” He is happy to share that $130,000 was collected at the TRF seminar held recently in Varanasi.
His wife Poonam is a member of RC Varanasi Vrindha and a past Assistant Governor. She is encouraging spouses of Rotarians to join Rotary.
Humanitarian projects can inspire Rotarians
He has been to 16 RI Conventions and, along with his wife Sunita, served as assistant sergeant-at-arms in nine of them. Dhiran Datta is proud to say that his coat is adorned with 380 pins, testimony that he loves interacting with Rotarians world over.
“For me the inspiration to join Rotary came from home,” he says, having been encouraged to join Interact and then Rotaract by his Rotarian father before joining his club in 1991.
“I love the internationality of the organisation and the opportunities it provides to care for the needy.” He has been a GSE and GFE leader and has led an IYE team to Sri Lanka.
Datta opines that when Rotary’s public image is enhanced, Rotarians will be inspired to contribute generously to TRF. “The LN4 artificial limb camps conducted at Bhopal and Lucknow recently has elevated the mindset of our members. Around 320 people of the 358 registrants have benefitted from the camps. All of us are happy with this wonderful work and I am sure this feel-good attitude translates into giving to benefit a larger society.”
His target for TRF giving is $80,000 which, he says, is achievable, although “MP is a relatively poor State”. He is planning a 20 per cent growth in the district’s membership and proposes to add five new clubs and 10 Rotaract clubs. Three Rotary clubs have been chartered so far. Adding 40 new women members is also on his agenda.
He is excited about a mega music competition for schoolchildren that is being conducted in the district for five years now, this year being extra special as participants have registered from abroad too.
His wife Sunita is member of the same club.
Waste management is his focus
Shirish Kesavan is concerned about the rehabilitation of people affected by the 2018 floods that destroyed several parts of Kerala. “We are still constructing houses for those who had lost their homes then,” he says.
He wants to ensure zero waste in the district and has encouraged clubs to adopt and manage waste generated in the 200 municipal wards in the region by involving RCCs in large numbers. Construction of toilets under WinS programme is his other focus.
On membership Kesavan is planning a 40 per cent increase as also increasing the number of Rotaract and Interact clubs. The district has only two Rotaract clubs.
He aims to raise $10 million for the Foundation.
He is a Rotarian since 1996 and is thankful to the organisation for having given him several friends on an international level.