As Rotary is poised for an exponential growth in India, “we should take a pledge to induct at least one new member each in the next 18 months for we have a responsibility to determine what Rotary is going to be in the next 10 years and that depends on what we do today,” said RIDN A S Venkatesh.
While we can take pride in Rotary’s legacy, all of us have to be ‘proactive’ to take this NGO to its deserving status by 2030. “In the last two years, less than 10 per cent of our members would have recommended or inducted a new member to their clubs,” he noted and urged Rotarians of RID 3000 to always wear their Rotary pins. He shared his dreams for Rotary at the two-day district conference of RID 3000 titled Simmasanam (throne) in Chennai.
“It will give a chance for us to explain about our organisation whenever the public question us about the pin.” If all the 150,000 Rotarians in India wear their pins whenever they go, “they become our brand ambassadors.”
Secondly, people should come forward to join Rotary, instead of being pushed, and this can be done if “only our conduct, behaviour, actions and community initiatives make Rotary an attractive proposition for them,” he said. Rotary should draw new members spontaneously and for which, a lot depends on “what Rotarians do now.” His third dream is to make Rotary the organisation of choice for people to donate liberally for noble causes. As non-Rotarians will judge the NGO based on how Rotarians acquit themselves in various community projects, it is important for members to shore up their public image in the years to come, Venkatesh noted.
PRID C Basker said RID 3000 has come a long way since it was bifurcated from Sri Lanka as a separate district in 1993. “At that time we had just 28 clubs, were the smallest district in India and the third lowest in TRF giving in the world. Today, we are number one in membership growth and have reached several milestones for which the credit must go to the PDGs of this district over the last 28 years,” he said.
Talking about ‘Self empowerment in Rotary’, he said that perceptions of value differ according to individuals. “If you ask PDG Janice Kurth, the RIPR, she may value friendship and fellowship in Rotary more than anything else, for Indian Rotarians it will be community service which may not be the case for members in Europe and Australia,” he explained. The perceptions among Rotarians vary across the geographical zones, whereas Rotary is the same everywhere.
India is not poor
During his tenure as district governor 20 years ago, Rotary clubs in India were looking up to foreign donors to carry out service projects. “We are no more a poor country. The top two districts in TRF giving were in India in 2018–19 and in membership growth, the top three districts were from our zones.” He had asserted at the RI Board that Asia was a growing power and “India would become a developed nation soon.”
An average Indian has a per capita income of ₹1.2 lakh and now, Rotary clubs in India are taking up the largest number of community projects without any funding problems, he said. “Clubs in RID 3000 should understand the needs and requirements of their communities and take up projects wherever necessary. A club should have a minimum of 25 members and all of them should join hands in implementing service projects,” Basker added.
DG Dr Zameer Pasha felicitated Venkatesh and Basker with mementoes. The discon was inaugurated by Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit and the valedictory address was given by Telangana Governor Dr Tamilisai Soundararajan. Over 2,200 delegates from 126 clubs of RID 3000 attended the conclave with their families. Major Donor G Sundararajan from Dindigul; R Srinivasan, a retired staff of TVS Company from Madurai; and V V Subramanian, Director, Hindu Mission Hospital, Trichy, were honoured with Vocational Excellence Awards.