RIPN Shekhar Mehta exemplified the Indore Institute’s theme — Dare to Dream — in his address to the governors-elect. “You all have been eagerly waiting for this moment… Apna time aayega… and your time is now,” he said, quoting from the popular rap song in Gully Boy.
“If this was a FICCI or an Assocham meeting, those participants couldn’t change India as much as 40 of you can. Remember we eradicated polio. Understand anything is possible for us Rotarians. Rotary is all about philosophy. It is how you think you are — big or small,” he asserted, setting out three tasks for the DGEs — dream big, set clear goals and delegate.
“You have to build hospitals and schools, and not just give books and pencils. Redefine your dreams and look for opportunities to break the mould,” he said, recalling how Rotary built 500 homes after the tsunami in a remote island in the Andamans. “We could only see a brown patch from the helicopter. The entire island was wiped out. We brought it alive in three months at a cost of ₹2.5 crore. All this is possible only if you think from the heart and not the mind,” he said, adding instances of how PRIP Kalyan Banerjee announced in Kathmandu that Rotary will make India totally literate and the historic initial project to vaccinate children against polio in the Philippines in 1979. “James Bomar, then RI President, wouldn’t have dreamt that we will be spending billions of dollars to wipe out the disease
from the world.”
He urged the delegates to build castles in the air. “Let people laugh at you. If you have the courage to dream big and follow it through, you will have the last laugh.”
Urging the DGEs to have a vision, Mehta gave the example of Disney World. “We all have seen mice. But who would have ever thought of creating an entire empire around one? When Disney World was inaugurated, Walt Disney was not alive. The CEO said to Disney’s wife seated on the dais, ‘I wish Walt could see this.’ Her epic reply was: ‘Only Walt could see this.’”
He added that Isaac Newton formulated the law of gravity after an apple fell over his head. “I would have either cursed myself for sitting under that tree or just picked the apple and eaten it.”
Set your goals
He asked them to set clear goals. “If your club has done 100 heart surgeries this year, 102 next year is no goal, but 125 is a good one. My newest slogan for you is add a zero to anything that you have planned.”
Quoting former President of India Abdul Kalam about dreams that don’t allow one to sleep, the RIPN said, “I have lots of sleepless nights, nothing to do with my business. But when a thought comes as to how to make India literate, I am happy that I have those sleepless nights.”
Having set the goals, the next step is to delegate. “You have two hands; only the women sitting here have ten hands like Maa Durga. Don’t try to emulate them. If you have ten hands, you’ll be Ravan. Who built the Taj Mahal? The masons. But does the history book say so? So delegate your work, credit will automatically come to you,” he said and shared his trainer’s advice to him when he was a DGE. “It still rings in my ears. He said that a governor’s job is to lubricate the egos of the club presidents. The same goes for the club president. He just has to pat a club member on his shoulder and say, ‘Good job. Well done.’ It will work wonders.”
It is okay to fail, he said, citing how Amitabh Bachchan was rejected by All India Radio because his voice was not good. “Can there be a bigger joke? Look where he has reached today. It is alright to fall. But you should have the tenacity to get up. Remember this is an opportunity for you to serve the best for humanity. Let membership be your topmost target. Drive every member to introduce just one member to Rotary and see how membership doubles up. Let us work steadfastly to make India totally literate by 2025,” said Mehta, wrapping up his pep talk.
Picture by Jaishree