When some of us joined the Rotaract Club at our college, the Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology (KIIT) in Bhubaneswar, three years ago, we were not even able to speak up in front of 10 people, but now if you ask me to address a large gathering, I can do it without any problem,” smiles Amandeep Singh, a fourth year engineering student of computer science and President of the Rotaract Club at KIIT sponsored by RC Bhubaneswar Capital.
Not only that, he and his secretary, Shivam Satyam, also an engineering student, have learnt to “identify problems in the community”, forge partnerships with the local municipality and corporates, and also mentor Interactors at the adjoining educational facility for tribal students — Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences, or KISS.
Kumar Mohanty, Dean of Training at KIIT, and a member of the sponsoring club RC Bhubaneswar Capital, as well as a mentor to these Rotaractors, says that recently when the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation “wanted to spread messages related to road safety, it approached Rotary clubs and asked if Rotary could partner it. Our Club immediately agreed. Now these Rotaractors are totally involved in spreading awareness on road safety through various measures.”
The most heartening aspect of this Rotaract club is that its 300 members have each ‘adopted’ 300 tribal children from poor families who are getting education at KISS. “We mentor them; they find it easier to voice their fears and discuss their problems with us rather than the teachers as we are closer to them in age,” says Singh.
So once he turns 25, will he join Rotary? “Most definitely; my father is a Rotarian. His brother, also a Rotaractor, passed out from KIIT three years ago and is now employed with Tata Steel in Mumbai, and is planning to join a Rotary club there.
Mohanty adds that when he was a trainee at Tata Steel “he was picked up by Cyrus Mistry (Tata Group Chairman) for his confidence and assertiveness.” Apparently, after addressing them, when Mistry asked if they had any questions, he said he was interested in pursuing a career in HR at Tata Steel! “Mistry said you’ll have to go through two or three rounds of interviews. He cleared all the rounds; he is not an MBA, but he now goes to IIMs to recruit MBAs, as also IITs and is doing very well. Being Rotaractors gives them that confidence.”
Satyam adds that being a Rotaractor gives him not only confidence and leadership skills but “also immense happiness to know that you are contributing something to society through involvement in meaningful projects.”
One such project is greening the city; in July they adopted a garden in Bhubaneswar called Jagannath Vatika and “the trees we’ve put up there will be utilised in the worship of Lord Jagannath and also in the construction of his rath,” says Satyam. Once a month the Rotaractors conduct their meetings in this garden to ensure that the trees they have put up are growing and looked after well.
Mohanty adds that with the Rotaract club doing so well (“we started with 30 members, and now it has 300”), they are now planning to start a full-fledged Interact club with KISS students.
Singh and Satyam are also very upbeat about corporates coming forward to work on their CSR projects with them. Tata Steel is saying that they’d like to do a CSR initiative in partnership with youngsters and these Rotaractors are very excited about working with this steel major. Singh adds that he was the President of the Interact Club in his school, and now is happy to lead a Rotaract club.