The drums and Nadaswaram played on as incoming presidents and Rotarians of D 3231, dressed in grey and white suits, with their spouses in pattu sarees, stood in the corridor of the hall to extend a traditional welcome to RIPE Barry Rassin and RI Director C Basker. This was Rassin’s “sixth PETS session in India and 74th PETS worldwide in six weeks but his enthusiasm makes me wonder if this is the first PETS he is addressing. Barry is here because he wants to boost your (president-elects) confidence and ensure that the Rotary year 2018–19 will be executed efficiently,” said Basker.
An AV presentation chronicled the journey of the district after it was bifurcated last year, followed by highlights of the TRF Contribution Commitment session. “The Presidents of 2018–19 have committed a contribution $4 million, 120 major donors and eight AKS members next year,” said DG Jawarilal Jain, amidst loud applause.
We have to share pictures of the children we are helping, the schools we are building, the disabled we are assisting and not about the where and how we are meeting.
— Barry Rassin
RI President Elect
Happy to have the incoming RI President in their midst, the incoming DG C R Chandra Bob said, “Ours is a new district and as most of our clubs are in small towns and villages, our priority for 2018–19 is to strengthen our clubs.” He also wants to increase the Rotaract clubs in the region from 55 to 100.
Basker reminded the incoming presidents that the best quality of a leader was to listen to his members, “giving each of them a chance to express themselves.” He said he was constantly getting different answers to the question “What is Rotary?”, and added, “we should all be able to define Rotary in the same way. The next time when you are asked, please give this answer: Rotary is bringing leaders together to exchange ideas and take action to improve the community.”
Appreciating DG Jain for his perseverance, the RID added that as his $2 million TRF target came from “not Delhi or Mumbai”, but a region that is semi-rural, “it has stunned many Rotarians in India.” He added that the next 52 weeks will be transformational for the presidents, and urged them to make the best use of this opportunity. “Listen, learn and polish your skills. You should be recognised within your community as a good leader.”
Applause filled the room as RIPE Rassin greeted the presidents with a “Vanakkam.” He asked them to be enthusiastic “as enthusiasm is contagious and your members will want to do more.” In the first year of the newly formed district “you want to give the foundation $4 million. That is audacious but, achievable. We have to be audacious. Good luck to you.”
Rassin asked the assembled Rotarians to reflect on why Rotarians were leaving Rotary, and if “we are doing something wrong”. The same question should apply to less than five percent Rotaractors joining Rotary. Explaining the need to bring in “active and vibrant Rotaractors,” he said, “these young professionals are the future of Rotary and if we are calling ourselves leaders then we should step up and ensure these Rotaractors are comfortable joining Rotary. I am glad your district plans to start 100 Rotaract clubs.”
CSR, he said, is “a great opportunity in your country, and what better partners than Rotary for Indian companies!” He urged the presidents to take advantage of this opportunity. “I wish I could take this law to every country in the world. Then we will be able to do more service than we have ever done before.”
He added that during his year he will focus on developing leadership skills in Rotarians. “Too many people across communities think of us as a lunch club. We need to change that. We have to build a strong presence on the social media and talk about the projects we are doing. We have to share pictures of the children we are helping, the schools we are building, the disabled we are assisting and not about the where and how we are meeting.”
Recalling an incident when a small boy in a school built by Rotary in Africa thanked him, the RIPE said, “The boy thanked Rotary for his classroom, toilet and water. Today I want to take this opportunity and on behalf of the children you have helped and will never meet and on behalf of those people who rely on Rotary, I thank each of you for your contribution towards creating a better world.”