Adding value to Rotary
He joined Rotary in 1999, after being a Rotaractor for a year. “Initially, my interest was just to make friends, but today Rotary is an integral part of my life; it has given me everything,” says Gopalakrishnan, adding that in Rotary he developed public speaking and leadership skills which have helped him serve key roles in various other forums.
He calls his team GEMS (Go the Extra Mile and Serve — his theme) and has put together 9 projects (Navaratnas) for all clubs to carry out together on a particular day each month. “It enhances coordination and competition among clubs,” he says.
He highlights an innovative way of enhancing Rotary’s public image. “We’ve given GEMS privilege cards to our members and tied up with 2,500 outlets which give discounts ranging from 2–30 per cent for merchandise and services.” These outlets display the Rotary wheel which, in turn, increases Rotary’s visibility among the public, he says.
Another novel idea that he has introduced is inviting a garment retail outlet to open shop on a college campus which has a huge Rotaract population. The arrangement is that 10 per cent of the proceeds will be given by the outlet to the Rotaract club. “The revenue will help the club undertake service projects,” he says.
His other projects include setting up six dialysis centres, ten rural eye clinics and provide WinS facilities in schools for which he has got approval for three global grants totalling $275,000.
“Many of our clubs are weak and the retention rate is also poor at 65 per cent,” Gopalakrishnan says about membership. His objective is a net increase of 10 per cent, retaining at least 85 per cent of the new members and strengthening weak clubs. New members inducted now will be the club presidents’ responsibility for the next three years, he says.
His spouse, Neelavathi, is a member of RC Karur Angels, an all-women’s club from where five Rotarians undertook a scooter rally to create awareness about Rotary across the district.
Children’s education is his priority
This governor was so impressed by the polio eradication drive that he moved from the Indian Red Cross Society to Rotary, and now he loves the fellowship and opportunities to transform people’s lives that Rotary offers.
Rama Rao is keen on improving sanitary conditions in schools by providing water, toilet and handwash facilities. “Many children, particularly girls, are reluctant to come to school in our region due to lack of proper sanitation facilities, and privacy which is very important for girl students. Improving other infrastructure facilities in schools is also on his agenda. Providing education for children and making them future-ready is the best gift we can give, he says.
On membership, he wants to strengthen weak clubs by improving their membership and add 800 new members. There is not much enthusiasm in his district among women to become Rotarians, says Rama Rao.
His target for TRF contributions is $1 million towards the Polio Fund.
Children and youth welfare are his focus
His “most cherished moment” was when he received the Service Above Self Award. “And I still value the time when I led a GSE team to Massachusetts and a polio corrective surgery camp organised in Belgaum as club president,” reminisces Anand Kulkarni. He is a Rotarian since 1997. “I had also visited our One Rotary Centre at Illinois when Kalyan Banerjee was RI President,” he says.
Kulkarni has planned his year well; in service projects, his focus is on promoting menstrual hygiene among adolescent girls. He has appealed to the spouses of Rotarians to visit 10,000 schools and talk to girl students about this. “We are in the process of finalising global grants and corporate partnerships to raise $150,000 to install incinerators in schools,” he says and is happy that the Chief Minister of Goa Manohar Parrikar, complimenting this endeavour, has promised to extend the government’s support to cover all schools in the State.
Care for the emotional health of youngsters to combat mental stress and screening people for diabetic retinopathy under project Drishti are his other health-related programmes.
He plans to execute e-learning projects of value $65,000 in 105 schools, in partnership with Tata Motors, and conduct awareness programmes on road safety in schools and colleges.
His goals include raising $1.1 million for TRF, increase district membership by 10 per cent, add 50 Rotaract clubs to the existing 50 and 200 more women Rotarians to the existing 300 members. He has asked every Rotary club to sponsor at least one Interact club too.
Community projects, his buzzword
He became a Rotarian when he was 23, after hearing the then Governor O P Vaish speak at the Rotary Club of Sirsa of which his brother was a member. “I enjoyed my two years as Rotaractor of Aligarh Muslim University, I didn’t take it very seriously then,” says Sattish Singhal.
As president of RC Noida in 1996, he conceived the setting up of the Noida Blood Bank worth $2 million in a 6,500 sq ft property. “It was one of the biggest projects with no matching grant support.” Now as governor, he wants to establish two more blood banks, two radiology centres, 20 dialysis centres and 15 eye clinics this year. Work is almost complete in 10 dialysis centres, 5 eye clinics and the blood banks. “The first dialysis centre was inaugurated by PRIP Kalyan Banerjee on my installation day,” he smiles.
He has visited 60 of 87 clubs in the district. “I tell them, don’t invite me for Dandiya nite or Diwali nite. Do something for the society, and I’ll gladly participate. Four clubs are ready with $1 million to do projects,” he says.
His goal for TRF contribution is $1 million, “but I’m sure we’ll exceed”. He wants to add 20 per cent more members and increase women membership by 22 per cent. It is “already second largest in the country,” he smiles.
Singhal credits his spouse, Prabha, an Inner Wheel member and past president, as his driving force.
He wants to enrol more women members
I installed 40 women in a newly chartered club, RC Aligarh, in a single day. Many women in our district are keen to become Rotarians,” says Vinay Kumar Asthana. He wants to increase overall membership by 20 per cent, with focus on women membership. On the first day of his installation, he had inducted 31 new members in a fairly new club. He wants to encourage new members and “make them feel included so that they will retain their initial enthusiasm”. He is conducting a drive to enrol his team in Rotary Club Central and has appointed tech-savvy Rotarians to help members who are unable to understand the working.
He became a Rotarian in 1991. Rotary blood runs in his family; most of them, including his wife Seema, are Rotarians and his brother-in-law, Ajai Agha, is a past governor of D 3120.
Being a rehab professional, his focus is on rehabilitating the physically-challenged. “My team is planning to distribute mobility aids to the needy in a big way this year,” he says. Conducting blood donation camps and sapling plantation across the district are his other agendas.
He plans to raise half a million dollars for the Foundation.