He has a $2 million goal for TRF giving
When many Rotarians felt that membership would be a great challenge during these Covid times we have formed 17 clubs and inducted over 500 members,” says Sanjiv Rai Mehra who is confident of chartering 40 clubs and effect a 50 per cent increase in membership by the year-end. He plans to induct the new members in weak clubs with less membership and make the clubs vibrant.
During the lockdown, Mehra has launched two international programmes — one is a business forum, “where we connect with districts worldwide to exchange cultural and business ideas.” The next is an international elocution competition. “Youngsters are stuck at home and their creative energies are stifled. To give vent to their creativity, we are planning a competition within India with the final round in September in Delhi and an international round with the finals in October,” he says.
Another goal of this DG is collecting $2 million for TRF; “it could be a challenge but I am going to put my best foot forward.” He plans to enhance Rotary’s public image by distributing water aerators in every household in Delhi after the lockdown is lifted. “We will talk to them about Rotary’s good work and tell them that if they want to contribute their time, they can join Rotary, or they can donate their money to the Foundation.”
Mehra is concentrating on another project — to spread awareness in Delhiites about the pollution caused to River Yamuna. As it flows 22km across Delhi, it accumulates 76 per cent pollutants which are carcinogenic, containing heavy metals such as arsenic. The groundwater also gets polluted. It costs a massive ₹92,000 crore to clean up the Yamuna. Rotary can support this drive through global grant and act as a catalyst in partnership with the government to change people’s outlook, he says.
Mehra joined Rotary in 1978 at age 25. He installed the first Rotaract club in 1982 in Delhi. His most cherished moment was when India was declared polio-free. He recalls an occasion in 1994 when he went to the local administration to take permission to use their veranda of their dispensary for giving polio vaccines for children. “They gave me permission but mocked our efforts saying, ‘these people are thinking of eradicating polio but they don’t know the enormity of the problem.’ We have achieved a near-nil status for which we should take pride.”
His father who is 100 years old was a Rotarian since 1952. “He now follows Rotary through Rotary News and The Rotarian.” Mehra’s mother was an Inner Wheel member, his son and daughter are also planning to join Rotary.
All set to become second-level AKS member
As the first woman governor of RID 3131, Rashmi Kulkarni, along with her husband PDG Vinay Kulkarni, has committed to become second-level AKS member, thus joining the Trustee Circle. Rashmi will probably be the first woman governor to become AKS member in India and, along with PDG Kulkarni, will be the first governor couple in Rotary to reach the AKS’ Trustee Circle.
Rashmi has lined up a slew of projects for her district. Her first priority is water conservation and restoration projects such as watershed management and desilting of lakes, rivers at a cost of ₹8 crore. She was installed online in the presence of RIPE Shekhar Mehta, TRF Trustee Gulam Vahanvaty, PRIPs Rajendra Saboo and Kalyan Banerjee.
She plans to do at least 25,000 cataract surgeries during her tenure and right now is actively involved in Covid-related projects including its prevention and treatment projects through the Foundation.
She has plans to install dialysis units, supply equipment to hospitals, and set up blood banks.
“I will be taking up projects under Happy Village and Happy Schools,” she says. Rashmi has supplied cement roof sheets as part of relief efforts in the aftermath of Cyclone Nisarg at the affected villages in Raigad district of Maharashtra.
Strengthening membership, his priority
He has strategies for membership growth and raising funds for TRF. Murugadoss is confident of adding 1,000 new members and contribute $1 million to TRF despite the pandemic challenge. He plans to become an AKS member during the year. “I want to lead by example,” he says, adding that he is expecting many major donors from the district. He also aims at mobilising CSR funds. He plans to take Rotary’s polio eradication efforts to the public and collect funds for the Polio Fund. “Not many people know that Rotary has done a lot for polio. So we are going to campaign Rotary’s role through a series of videos and rallies. This will help the Foundation as well as increase membership.”
Murugadoss is targeting bank professionals and pensioners to join Rotary. “There are 6,000 bank branches in our district. Many of them are interested but they have not been invited so far. Similarly, many pensioners feel that Rotarians are unapproachable and Rotary clubs are for the rich. I want to break this barrier and burst the myth.” He has appointed women leaders in district portfolios. This will be a motivation for more women to join Rotary, he says.
He is passionate about providing safe drinking water in schools. His Directed Gift of $50,000 a few years ago helped the district avail GG to provide clean drinking water in 15 schools benefitting 15,000 children daily. “I want to continue that,” says the DG.
He is encouraging his team with his theme ‘Be better than the best’ and is happy to have utilised this lockdown restrictions “meaningfully with Zoom meetings addressed by senior Rotary leaders such as RIPE Shekhar Mehta and Director Kamal Sanghvi.” Murugadoss is a Rotarian since 1991.
Donate to TRF – the Rotary Mandir
He joined Rotary in 1991 after being influenced by three of his Rotarian neighbours. He was a Rotaractor in 1983–84. Ramesh Bajaj’s most cherished moment was when, as a GSE team leader, he secured a $40,000 grant from RID 6110, Arkansas, for the Him Jyoti School in Dehradun. “It was under construction then. And I was happy to get the grant for PRID Sudarshan Agarwal.”
He is happy to share that the district has set up 130 schools in remote and rural areas. “We believe in taking schools to the children,” says Bajaj. He is urging his team to plant and nurture fruit-bearing trees and herbal plants. “It is not enough to plant 20 or 50 trees. The success of the programme lies in nurturing the saplings,” he says. He is keen to execute water conservation projects and is distributing water aerators to households to help save water.
His mantra for membership is ‘each one, get one, retain one’. “I am a diehard fan of Rotaract and we have 90 Rotaract clubs in the district.” He talks about a unique plan to raise contributions for TRF. “I call and wish every Rotarian during their birthday or wedding anniversary and tell them ‘Just like you donate money in your mandir on your special day, contribute to TRF, the Rotary mandir’.” He does not believe in feeding the hungry just for a day. “For me Annapurna Day should be an everyday activity.” The clubs in his district have adopted 20 widows or 20 families as an on-going project for years and provide them basic necessities throughout the year.
Bajaj is in the process of applying for a GG or CSR grant to provide bicycles to girls to help them commute to school. “Each club will be giving 10–20 bicycles to school-going children.”
His wife Rekha is a member of RC Panipat Central.
Building shelters for flood victims
The 2018 floods rendered 15,000 people in his district homeless and damaged 100,000 homes. “So, my focus is to build 1,000 shelters this year — 400 new homes, 200 renovations and 200 improved basic facilities,” says Jose Chacko Madhavaserry, a Rotarian since 1990. His other focus projects include empowering youth and environment care. “We plan to create 1,000 Happy Schools, promote solar power and create Miyawaki forests across the district,” he says.
Talking about promoting road safety awareness among the public, Madhavaserry says that last year the district saw 5,000 deaths due to road accidents. “The DGP has invited Rotary to partner with the police to reduce such gory accidents.” The district is also installing ‘drug banks’ through the clubs to provide life-saving essential medicines against prescriptions, following shortage of such medicines in the State recently.
He wants to induct 700 new members, especially youngsters, charter 3–5 clubs and promote women in leadership position. His target for TRF is $1.3 million.
Madhavaserry’s wife and brother are also Rotarians.