Education, his priority
While focusing on multiple areas during his year, DG Maullin Patel will mainly focus on WinS for D 3054 (newly formed from the merger of Districts 3051 and 3052, with parts of Gujarat and Rajasthan). “We’ve done an MoU with the Rajasthan government under which we are adopting 500 schools for Star-one category. And we will certainly try also for Star-two.” He will also take up an additional 500 schools in Gujarat. “One big thing we are doing in literacy is giving schools e-learning software. By the time my year ends, we’ll be completing 25,000 schools, equipping them with e-learning,” he says.
Membership growth is another area of focus; “we already have 6,000 members; an eight per cent growth is my target because the bigger the district the chances of splitting are very high — I feel 8–10 per cent growth is a realistic target.”
Patel admits that his district is “very weak in TRF contributions because generally all the projects are supported by the clubs and individual members, and we rarely go for global grants from TRF. But we do have huge projects worth crores of rupees which are supported by our members, some of which Rotary News has already reported.” But he hopes to create a record by collecting $500,000 for TRF, because till now “we have never ever collected more than $200,000 or 250,000. So will try to double that number.”
As for public image, that has not been a problem; “probably our district has the best public image thanks to the large size of the projects we do. But we’ll try to improve it further,” he adds. He is happy that his dream to build a Rs 5 crore hospital for BPL families in Mehsana to do pathological and bio-chemical tests at heavily subsidised rates — Rs 1,800–2,000 test fees reduced to Rs 300–400 — is now closer to reality.
He wants to create records
His Rotary journey began in 2004, and well before he joined Rotary; this DG was first an Interact President and then a very active and passionate Rotaractor. “And I come from a Rotary family; my father is a past president from two Rotary clubs,” he says.
Looking at some “strategic priorities”, Ruchir Jani’s first aim is to raise $1 million as TRF contribution from his district. “Till date our district has not achieved that feat and I am positive I will be able to do that,” he smiles confidently. His other ambitious goal is to start 25 new clubs and take up the membership in his district from 4,000 to 5,000. “I know this is a very big goal, but we are working on it.”
But the one project he has put his heart into is to enhance Rotary’s public image in which all the clubs will participate and for this he is planning a huge quiz competition for students from Class 9–12. “We are planning a quiz every quarter, along with one exclusive project, and our aim is to get an entry into the Guinness Book of World Records.”
Among the several projects planned for his district, one will be for the treatment of kidney patients. “Through global grants we are planning to buy dialysis machines, handwash stations for schools and we are also looking at youth and friendship exchange programmes with large numbers of participants. The incoming RI President Ian Riseley has announced this at the District Assembly in January. I would like to involve Rotaractors also in this cultural group exchange programmes,” he says.
Jani adds, “Probably for the first time in our district, we will be having a joint conference with Inner Wheel, Rotaractors and Interactors.”
Will give clubs a free hand, raise $1 million for TRF
I don’t plan to have my own projects; instead I will ask the clubs in my district to focus on the six core areas of Rotary when they select their own projects. I propose to give the clubs a free hand to select their own projects,” says DG Sivashankaran.
To help them decide, he will suggest to their office-bearers some 10–15 projects of different sizes in each core area of Rotary and then ask them to choose.
A hotel management professional who runs a restaurant and hotel management institute in Erode, he joined Rotary in 1998 after returning from the US. “I had started my own business and joined Rotary because I wanted to network with people. And also wanted to give back to the community. When I was in the US, I used to do some community service, so that had become a habit,” he says.
About his priorities as DG, he says that many clubs in his district, which has 131 clubs, are weak, with less than 30 members. “My main focus this year will be to strengthen the weaker clubs and ensure that each club has at least 30 members. So that will automatically increase the membership.”
Another major priority of his is to increase the contribution to TRF to
$1 million, “so that we can do more global grants projects to benefit the community.” He says the highest his district has raised so far is $600,000; that was a couple of years ago and after that it has been a downhill with “less than $150,000, so I will concentrate on that too.”
Returning to membership, Sivashankaran will also direct his energy in increasing women members in the district by 20 per cent. “Right now it is barely five per cent. And when we get women members, I’d like to ensure that they come from the larger community and are not only spouses inducted into Rotary. Usually, women’s membership is increased by bringing in the spouses.”
So how does he hope to attract more women to Rotary?
“By publicising our projects and the good work we do and by going to women’s organisations and looking out for suitable and service-minded women.” He adds that as a DG, when he is invited to participate in meetings, he will try to spot women who might be interested in joining Rotary and then invite them. “I am suggesting to my presidents to do the same.”
Treating cancer is his priority
Concerned about the lack of awareness among people on the importance of regular screening for early detection of cancer, “I have planned a series of cancer detection camps, particularly in the rural areas where medical accessibility is almost nil,” says Chinnadurai Abdullah. He is in the process of signing an MoU with the Corporation hospitals to provide free treatment for the poor, and also set up permanent clinics in the six districts in the State.
His other priority is to plant 8,000–10,000 saplings across his district. “We have 4,000 members and I’ve requested each one of them to plant at least two saplings.” He also plans to collect 7,000 units of blood — 3,500 on Day 1 when he takes charge and the rest in January. “We will be doing it in parts because we cannot store more than 3,500 units at a time,” he says.
Abdullah is keen on increasing women’s membership in his District to 12 per cent from the present 5.4 per cent and introduce 10 per cent more of under-40 Rotarians. He aims to raise $300,000 for TRF and try to bring in a couple of AKS donors too.
He is a Rotarian since 1998 and proudly states that his is a “true Rotary family; my wife, daughter, two sons and daughter-in-law, and nephews are all Rotarians.” He recalls a moment when his club had sponsored a cardiac surgery that saved the life of a 10-day-old infant. “She is two years old now and her parents bring her to see me quite often. Every time I see her it gives me goosebumps and I thank Rotary for giving me an opportunity to save a child’s life,” adds Abdullah.
Enhancing Rotary’s public image, his focus
Rotary runs in his blood, having been an Interactor, Rotaractor and a Rotarian since 1994, when he was just 28. Vivek Kumar is all set to graduate from a Major Donor to an Endowment donor on his installation day in the presence of TRF Trustee Sushil Gupta.
Two occasions are close to his heart, he says. One, when as a Rotaract President in 1986, he was instrumental in raising a decent amount through a musical event and the money was used to provide relief for earthquake victims in Darbhanga in Bihar. And second, “whenever we construct toilets in schools for girl children I feel a sense of satisfaction that besides hygiene, I am able to provide privacy and safety for them.”
Kumar has impressed upon his team of presidents “to do meaningful projects which will speak of Rotary’s glory for years to come. Promoting girls’ education and adult literacy are my thrust areas.” He plans to hold bi-annual press conferences, four in each of his district’s 19 zones, to highlight Rotary’s work in the community.
He is also concentrating on increasing the number of younger Rotarians and retaining the present 3,800 members. He has set a target of raising $500,000 for TRF. Establishing a neonatal care centre at Patna, a cancer detection centre at Jamshedpur and Rotary Blood Bank at the Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences in Patna, are his focus projects for his year. “Such projects will enhance Rotary’s public image while serving large number of needy people,” says Kumar.