Inducting quality members is his mantra
He feels the limelight should be on the club presidents and members for they are the people who work at the ground level. “In most cases the governors steal the show. That’s not right. Our job is only to monitor, assist and strengthen clubs. Members are the backbone of Rotary. If clubs are not performing, the governor loses significance,” says Ravi Choudhary.
He recalls a polio summit when he presented a video on Rotary’s polio eradication work, where the focus was on the Rotary volunteers. He was rewarded with compliments from the then RI President and chief guest Glen Estess who requested him for 200 copies to be circulated worldwide. “I showcased the cause, our collective effort. There was no promoting any individual.”
According to him, 80 per cent of the Rotarians are good but take a backseat, while the remaining 20 per cent will do anything to destroy the good Rotarians. “People who have made a life out of Rotary are only contesting for every position,” he says.
On membership, Choudhary is not interested in targets or the ‘number game’. “We are still hovering over the stagnant number ‘1.2 million Rotarians’. I believe in inducting quality members; those having fair knowledge of Rotary and an inclination to do good in the community. Otherwise, our attrition rate will be high,” he says. He has chartered five young generation clubs but discouraged new clubs springing out of break-away members. “That will ruin the organisation. Instead I’ve told them to join a club which has like-minded members. If I have to achieve a target, I can do it in two days, asking my presidents to bring two members each. But that will be an artificial growth.” He is disheartened with clubs with less than ten members which, he says, are started “to serve some vote-bank politics; they do not promote any Rotary activity”.
He joined Rotary in 1996 because “I wanted to be a Rotarian; but today we want people to become Rotarians…that’s the difference,” he says, adding, “If we can’t make our children Rotarians, how can we convince others to join Rotary?”
His priority is to improve communities with WinS and Literacy projects, create cancer awareness in the district and rope in CSR funds. His mantra is summed up in 3Ts — Time management, Transparency and Technology — meetings and projects sticking to time, accounts budgeted and audited and communications done through the electronic media.
Reviving Rotaract is his vision
His excitement is palpable even after two weeks after RI Director C Basker had visited the district to inaugurate a cath lab in the Sathya Sai Sanjeevani Hospital in Naya Raipur. “His visit has given us all a big boost to do meaningful service projects,” says Harjit Singh Hura. His focus is to enhance the hospital’s capacity as it provides free heart surgery for several children, even from neighbouring countries such as Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal. Building/renovating toilets in schools is also on his agenda. “I am left with $80,000 DDF from last year. But we have worked out a partnership with Mahanadhi Coalfields, a PSU which has agreed to fund our WinS projects,” he says.
On membership, Hura wants to add five more clubs. He has already overshot his target of 200 new members, having inducted 250 Rotarians, and chartered an all-women’s club in Bilaspur. Having been a Rotaractor himself and a DRR too, he is passionate about strengthening Rotaract clubs. “While Rotaract was very vibrant earlier, the district has not had a DRR for the past three years! Only this year we have one,” he says, adding that he wants to increase the number of Rotaract clubs, now around 10, to 35.
He is working towards raising $100,000 for TRF.
He became a Rotarian in 1991, soon after his term as DRR. He is proud to say that all the members who formed his club were past Rotaractors and shares a view that Rotaract is not given the required emphasis for the members to be motivated.
Congenital heart diseases is his concern
He is concerned about children suffering from heart disorders and the sight of helpless parents who cannot afford medical treatment to save their children. “We’ve helped surgical treatment for 17 such children and two more will be operated upon this week. It hurts my heart to see infants and small children gasping for breath,” says Brojo Kundu.
Developing a vocational training centre in the Sunderbans is also top on his wish list. He says that the people in this region are backward and lack employable skills. He wants to concentrate his energy on helping to skill such people so that they have a decent livelihood. He will also work hard towards the goal of making India totally literate.
On membership growth, his goal is to increase the district’s strength by 20 per cent and raise $400,000 for TRF.
Non-functional clubs worry him
Non-functional clubs worry him the most. He says that there are eight such clubs, chartered during the fag end of the last Rotary year, which do not perform at all. “They are absolutely non-functional and not installed for Rotary purpose; I will either make them vibrant or close them,” says Rajkumar Bhutoria, adding that 80 per cent of the clubs do not contribute anything to TRF. “All these are big challenges, apart from the fact that the district is vast, stretching to 1,200 km, encompassing Bikaner, Jodhpur and parts of MP too.”
His target for TRF contribution is $200,000 and for membership, a 15 per cent growth. He is confident of achieving the goals, despite his worry that he would have to close down five clubs that do not even pay their dues. “Someone else is paying for them,” he says.
Talking about projects, Bhutoria is excited that he has three global grants that will be used to transform seven schools into ‘Happy Schools’ in Jodhpur, help perform cataract surgeries in an eye hospital in Bikaner and set up a blood bank in Jodhpur. He wants to establish a blood bank in Alwar too with his team funding the project.
With Rajasthan’s history of female foeticide, Bhutoria is concentrating on creating awareness towards saving girl children. He is happy that the Neki ki diva project initiated by him has become popular in the district; people donate all kinds of articles and food items too, which are taken by the poor. He highlights a project of RC Guna, started three years ago, where pregnant women are provided free medical checkup and nutritious diet. “The government is now replicating it for the State.”
He is a Rotarian since 1985, and cherishes the moment when a 22-year-old youngster recently met and thanked him profusely. “I could not recognise him but he said that he was a student in a computer centre which I helped establish when I was the club president. Today he says that he is working in an IT firm. I am so happy that Rotary could give livelihood for the needy. That is more important,” says Bhutoria.
Safe water, his concern
He joined Rotary in 1995 on an invitation from his friends and initially loved the fellowship and fun. “Later when I got involved in the service activities, I felt whole, and more a Rotarian,” says Parvinder Jit Singh.
He plans to add 6–7 more clubs to the existing 107 clubs, having recently chartered two clubs, including an all-women’s club.
His focus projects include developing the Rotary cancer hospital in Jalandhar with better facilities and extend free treatment to more people and provide proper sanitation and water facilities in government schools. He strongly believes that schools should be equipped with safe drinking water to protect children from falling sick and therefore, he is concentrating on providing RO plants in schools.
He is confident of exceeding his district’s goal for TRF contributions.
Singh’s spouse Savrina has served as president of the Inner Wheel Club of Jalandhar Central.