Three years ago, RI General Secretary John Hewko was asked by Harvard Business Review, how Rotary and Rotarians were able to sustain the fight against polio for over three decades. His response:
- In 1984, when Rotary embarked on the Polio Eradication Drive, the disease was endemic to most countries. Hence, Rotarians, everywhere, found a common cause.
- It was not just about contributing money. Rotarians participated in administering the two drops on NIDs for children.
- The results were measurable. From 350,000 cases in 1984, only Pakistan and Afghanistan, with about 100 cases, are yet to be declared polio-free. Hence our commitment that we must cross the last mile.
In a recent discussion, I was asked where I envisaged Rotary in 2030. RIPN Shekhar Mehta has given a clarion call that Rotary must win the Nobel Peace Prize. That goal should be the dream of every Rotarian, not just because it will give a massive boost to our image, but because Rotary truly deserves it.
The second goal that I stated is that Rotary must have a truly global presence. While it is heartening that Rotary is present in most countries, Rotary clubs in China and the Arab countries operate under severe restrictions. Rotary’s presence in these countries is ‘iffy’, at best. If we could convince governments to allow us to operate as in other countries, it could lead to a huge surge in membership and a groundswell of support for TRF.
Easily achievable goals? No. However, a concerted, focused effort at Rotary’s highest levels can yield the dividends we seek.
If you believe that there are other goals we must strive for, please do write in.
Gulam A Vahanvaty
Trustee, The Rotary Foundation