Come July, Rotaractors will start paying to RI annual membership dues — $5 for institution-based and $8 for community-based Rotaract clubs. The 2019 CoL’s landmark decision to ‘Elevate Rotaract’ also included eliminating upper age limit for Rotaractors and involving them in district committees.
At the Mahabs 21 institute, World Rotaract Committee chair Ravi Vadlamani moderated a special session with Rotaract representatives — RI’s Rotaract Interact Committee member PDRR Ramkumar Raju, RSA MDIO president PDRR Arti Goswami, its vice-president PDRR Naveen Sena and SEARIC MDIO president PDRR Kaushal Sahu — to discuss how Rotaractors view
The decision to collect membership dues had a mixed response. “For community-based clubs, it is not an issue. But it will be a challenge for college-based clubs,” said Raju. Referring to clubs with large membership such as RAC Ethiraj College in Chennai with 6,000 members and RAC R V College in Bengaluru, he said, “We have clubs with membership in 1,000s and don’t want to lose them.” Vadlamani responded: “It is the price of just one pizza. For the value and transformation that Rotaract gives, this is a small price.”
We must install Rotaract in women’s colleges, give them leadership responsibilities and implement projects directed at women’s welfare such as menstrual hygiene and cancer screening.
— PDRR Arti Goswami
Echoing his thoughts, Sena said, “it might not burn a hole in the pocket of Rotaractors who have settled down with a career. If they understand the benefits their membership brings, they will be ready to pay.” He pointed out that 50 Rotaractors have been invited to participate in the next International Assembly where Rotary will be offering them training in leadership. “Anything given free will not be valued,” said Sahu.
The Rotaract delegates were however unified in opposing the elimination of upper age limit. “People would want to stay on and pay lesser dues in Rotaract rather than pay a hefty fee as a Rotarian. In fact I know some Rotarians who have become Rotaractors! The decision throws open much confusion,” commented Sena.
Talking about the Rotary-Rotaract synergy, he said that Rotaractors are a huge pool of youngsters who are good in creativity, energy, vision, technology and “they have their finger on the current trends. We will support Rotary in achieving its mission. In TEACH, or polio awareness, you will need volunteers in huge numbers. Rotaractors will be ready to do the job. Include us in your planning and district committees and together we can accomplish great things. If Rotary is filled with experienced people, Rotaract is fuelled with energy.”
The benefits are mutual, said Raju. “Rotarians such as my DG C R Raju have nurtured me to become what I am today. If Rotaractors can use the support offered by Rotarians they can go places,” he said, and recalled his convention experience when he was DRR. “Speaking to 40,000 elite Rotarians in the plenary session at the Sydney convention was a dream come true.” He also recalled the My Flag My India event that had 50,000 Rotaractors and Rotarians coming together to form the world’s largest human flag and create a record in Chennai. “Rotarians have always been there and taken us forward. It all depends on how Rotarians see Rotaractors — as people with potential or as ‘just Rotaractors’.”
Referring to Vadlamani, institute chair M Muruganandam and counsellor Y Kumanan, all past DRRs, he said, “This shows how Rotaract has developed leadership qualities in these Rotary leaders.”
Arti lamented the smaller membership of women Rotaractors. “It is only 30 per cent. We must focus on installing Rotaract in women’s colleges, give them leadership responsibilities and implement projects directed at women’s welfare such as menstrual hygiene and cancer screening.”
Vadlamani suggested that Rotary, like Rotaract, should recognise 10 large projects at the Houston convention. He urged the delegates to motivate Rotaractors to become dual members and increase membership of both Rotary and Rotaract. RI has set goals to increase the number of registered Rotaractors to one million by 2029 and RI President Shekhar Mehta wants the Rotaract membership to grow from 200,000 to 300,000 by 2022.