First Thoughts – October 2014


Seminars on membership
For a future full of service & fellowship  
Clubs going on an induction spree!
Full of activity was Chapter Three!!

My dear partners in service,
October is Vocational Services month.  Vocational services is the fountainhead of Rotary and the 2nd Avenue  of Service which helps us bring Rotary to our respective workstations.

RI President Gary Huang  has given the clarion call to Light Up Rotary, by bringing quality into vocational service.

Coined by Rotary’s Gandhi, Herbert J. Taylor, the 4-Way Test is the guiding principle of vocational service:

Of the things, we think, say or do:

  1. Is it the truth?
  2. Is it fair to all concerned?
  3. Will it build goodwill and better friendship?
  4. Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

It is but befitting that as India celebrates Gandhi ­Jayanthi, we look back on Mahatma Gandhi’s life, draw inspiration  and look ahead with hope and conviction. Indeed, Gandhiji embodied the essence of the 4-Way Test.

Writing in Young India in 1925, he said that politics without principles, wealth without work, commerce without morality, knowledge without character and worship without sacrifice were factors that contributed to the moral decay of society. Gandhiji said that the prosperity of a nation  does not depend on the strength of its armed forces or the number of high rise buildings it has He said that the prosperity of a nation depended on the number of men and women of enlightenment and character that it has.

Let us remember that the 4-Way Test is an acid test for every Rotarian.

As Rotarians, let us set stringent ethical standards in our chosen vocations  and uphold the principles of the 4-Way Test.

Let us draw courage from the amazing recognition and respect that Gandhiji commanded and from the unprecedented success that came his way without his ever giving up any of the 4-Way Test principles.

Let us rejoice in the knowledge that  the 4-Way Test has been accepted worldwide and  has become the conscience keeper of many.

Let us take pride in the fact that this test has withstood the onslaught of time and is relevant even today. Above all, let us pray to the almighty to give us the moral strength to nurture and cherish the 4-Way Test with passion and determination.

Let us compare the humanitarian service rendered by Rotary clubs with other organisations like Mother ­Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity or the Ramakrishna Mutt. And ask the question why society respects these organisations more than Rotary. Is it because, while as Rotary clubs we subscribe to lofty ideals like the 4-Way Test, as individuals some Rotarians do not practice the same in its entirety?

While we cannot become saints overnight, let us resolve to follow the 4-Way Test, in its true letter and spirit, to the best of our ability!

This will enhance the public appreciation of the services we do, both for the local and the international community.

A Chinese proverb says “Give a man a fish and you are helping him for a day. Teach him to fish and you are helping him for a life time.”

Keeping this in mind, I earnestly request each and every club to help shape the destiny of our youth with action and vision by organising career guidance and vocational training  programmes.  Many clubs have successfully imparted training to deserving youngsters as two-wheeler and air-conditioning mechanics, electricians, computer programmers etc.

With the wide spectrum of classifications available in your clubs, I am confident that you will successfully exploit tremendous potential for service that exists in this area.

Many districts have come out with “Rotary District Yellow Pages,” covering all important Rotarian classifications in the district. You can bring out one such publication in your district and that will be a highlight!

I now share with you an interesting true story of the 1920s — a story that captures the essence and spirit of vocational service, a story that highlights the impact of this ­avenue of service and a story that will warm the heart of every Rotarian.

His name was Fleming, and he was a poor Scottish farmer. One day, while working on his farm, he heard a cry for help from the slush nearby.  He dropped his tools and ran there to find, mired to his waist in quick sand was a terrified boy, screaming and struggling to free himself.   Farmer Fleming saved the lad from what could have been a slow and terrifying death.

The next day, a fancy carriage pulled up at the ­Scotsman’s sparse home. An elegantly dressed nobleman stepped out and introduced himself as the father of the boy Farmer Fleming had saved.

“I want to repay you,” said the nobleman. “You saved my son’s life.”

“No, I cannot accept payment for what I did,” the ­Scottish farmer replied. At that moment, the farmer’s own son came to the door of the family hovel.

“Is that your son,” asked the nobleman.

“Yes,” the farmer replied proudly.

“I will make you a deal. Let me take him and give him a good education. If the lad is anything like his father, he will grow up to be a man you can be proud of.”

And that he did. In time, Farmer Fleming’s son graduated from St. Mary’s Hospital Medical School in London, and went on to become known throughout the world as the noted Sir Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of Penicillin.     Years afterward, the nobleman’s  son was stricken with pneumonia. What saved him??… Penicillin.

The name of the nobleman? Lord Randolph Churchill.  His son’s name? Sir Winston Churchill!

Someone once said what goes around comes around.

Rotary is a potent force that draws together people from all over the world and draws out the best from every one of them.

Let us be aware of the fact that as Rotarians we have the ability to improve the quality of life of people around us and that our personal esteem and well being demands that we serve.

I will sign off with the following appeal to all of you.

In Rotary’s broad field of battle
In your chosen vocation in life
Don the leadership mantle
Be a hero in the strife!

Yours in Rotary,



P.T. Prabhakar
Director, Rotary International (2013–15)


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