Public image is his priority
Rotary, for me, is the world’s best organisation for brotherhood and social service,” says DG Bagh Singh Pannu, who has been a Rotarian since 1999. He is passionate about spreading Rotary’s good work and attracting more people to the organisation.
“Our new theme — Rotary: Making a Difference — is fluttering high up on the Norbu Peak at a height of 17,106 ft. My 16-year-old son Kanwer Udey Singh Pannu hoisted the Rotary flag over there recently when he went on his maiden expedition,” says the proud father.
Pannu is planning to recognise 20 Rotary clubs that have their own Rotary halls. “I am installing Paul Harris busts in these buildings to enhance Rotary’s public image.”
Promoting organ donation is another priority and he is a registered donor too. He has set a target of raising $150,000 for TRF.
“It’s a big jump, considering past records where we have contributed an average of $30,000–40,000.” He will urge Rotarians to contribute a significant sum while installing the Paul Harris bust.
In membership, he will “focus on retention rather than extension,” and aims at a 20 per cent increase. “While our puranas glorify women as Maa Saraswati, Lakshmi and Sakthi, it is high time we understand women-power and their role in building societies,” says the DG, keen on inducting more women members.
Greening the earth
Taking cue from RI President Ian Riseley’s call to green the planet, he plans to plant one lakh saplings and seed balls across the district, and has directed his team to involve friends and families, Rotaractors and Interactors in this drive.
Chengappa, Suresh to friends, says that he was never a keen businessman, and was active in working towards the betterment of his ‘kodava’ community, prior to joining Rotary in 1995. “My wife is my greatest supporter in all my social endeavours,” he says.
He is all geared up to provide solar lamps to 1,700 households. “These are in a remote village where government electrification has not reached.”
He wants each of his members to contribute a minimum $26.5 to TRF and through an exclusive corporate dinner, he is hopeful of striking partnerships with corporates to tap their CSR funds for projects.
On membership growth, Chengappa wants his presidents “to conduct club meetings effectively, as directed by Director C Basker. I’ve requested them to highlight Rotary’s humanitarian projects to their friends and relatives and woo them to be a part of the organisation.” He proposes to add 15 new clubs to the existing 72 in his District.
Referring to an artificial limb camp that he had organised as club president, he says he was deeply moved when one of the beneficiaries, a tailor who had lost his legs in an accident, came up and thanked him with tears in his eyes, saying “I never dreamt I can walk again, but thanks to these pairs of Jaipur feet, not only can I walk, I can pursue my vocation too.” Such is the magic of Rotary, gushes the DG reverently.
His focus is community-based projects
The DG has his plans for the year all set — a 25 per cent membership growth with 95 per cent retention, and TRF contribution of $500,000 including 10 Endowment donors.
“Although ours is a 90 per cent rural region, I am happy to say that 80 per cent of our Rotarians are actively engaged in providing need-based projects for the community,” says Ramesh Babu, citing activities such as desilting canals and ponds to improve groundwater and help agriculture.
“All my presidents are dynamic, ready to learn and set to serve. I was amazed to see a 100 per cent attendance throughout the PETS and SETS,” adds this district leader of 111 clubs and 4,304 Rotarians.
On membership, he plans to install an all-women’s club in Chidambaram and is all praise for RC Kumbakonam Shakthi, an all-women’s club in Kumbakonam that is “doing great work.”
He also highlights the recently formed RC Kumbakonam Kings — “a young, vibrant club”— whose members are the offspring of Rotarians of RC Kumbakonam Temple City.
Presently, Babu is keen on processing a global grant with a Japanese club to improve a school in Nagapattinam, a tsunami-affected town.
Another priority is to root out the wild, invasive seemai karuvelam plants that suck ground water. NEET coaching for school children, and sanitation and e-learning facilities in schools are on his agenda too.
“I have a limited DDF — just $46,000. I am working with corporates and global grants to realise my ambitious plans,” says the governor who has been a Rotarian since 1997.
Women must prefer Rotary to Inner Wheel
Serving as a Governor is a lifetime opportunity and I thank my team for it,” he says. Abraham began his Rotary journey in 1997 as a Rotarian. His club’s mobile limb centre which he kickstarted, eight years ago, as president is close to his heart. “It has given mobility to thousands of people across the States, especially in rural areas,” he says. The district spans two States — Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
He is confident of raising $1.2 million for TRF and a net growth of 750 members with focus on the newgen. He is also working at introducing at least 20 women Rotarians, which he says, are barely 10 per cent now.
“I have insisted the Rotarians to bring their spouses for club meetings. Let them understand the magic of Rotary. In my opinion, Rotary women membership is greatly affected by the Inner Wheel. Most women prefer to join an Inner Wheel club rather than a Rotary club.”
There is no “signature” project for his district. He wants the clubs to concentrate on the needs of their localities. “Fulfilling those needs is an excellent PR exercise.” Water, sanitation and healthcare, however, seem to be the predominant needs of the region.
Abraham is therefore focusing on implementing global grant projects to equip schools with toilet blocks and reverse osmosis plants. He has also directed clubs to organise health camps in schools and rural areas.
“I want my clubs to be vibrant and revive the old charm that was there a couple of decades ago,” he says.
Blood bank is his dream
A huge Rotary hoarding on the Faizabad-Lucknow highway that welcomed visitors into his city, got him interested in Rotary and he became a Rotarian in 1997. Ranjeet Singh is keen on establishing a blood bank in his district.
“In 2004, when I went to see a Rotarian who had met with a road accident, I donated blood, for the first time in my life, and that saved his child. I consider that my Rotary moment and the blood bank has been my dream ever since.”
He is planning to distribute 100 freezer boxes across the district through his clubs at a cost of $109,000. “This is a very thoughtful project, particularly in this age, when many people are settled abroad. The freezer boxes will help preserve the mortal remains of the dead until their loved ones arrive to give a fond send-off,” he says. Adult education is another of his focus area.
Singh has set a target of $350,000 to TRF and he proposes to collect $100 from each of his 2,980 members. He has given a piggy bank to each member which will be opened at his District conference on November 2.
On membership growth, he says he is “very lucky. I have inducted 152 members during my visit to 13 clubs so far.” He aims to introduce 750 new members and is targeting the spouses of Rotarians.
“I have already enrolled 25 spouses as Rotarians, 18 of whom are under-40.” He wants to improve the district’s enrolment to Club Central and has hired an IT professional who will visit each club and enroll members online.