Sunday, 17 September 2017

From Rotary With Poetry

The Club’s meeting on Sept 15 was unique for two reasons: It was our joint meeting with Rotary Club of Garden City, and it was also the second meeting in a span of ten weeks on poetry!

Rtn Hemant Jagtap is a civil engineer who has had a hand in building more than 400 Check Dams. As an Executive Engineer of PWD, he has built several bridges, canals and big dams. Like you discover water source at unlikely places, you also discover a poet at unlikely offices! Hemant studies Gazhals seriously, and can deliver a scholarly lecture on it.

He began with the history of Gazhals, it was a surprise to learn that the original gazhals were written in Persian language and not in Urdu. That Urdu was not even a language which was ‘born’ when gazhals were being written was a surprise to us.

If you are in Rotary, the chances are that you can find poetry in your work. It is all about doing things passionately, and that’s what we do.
Thanks for giving us a great evening Hemant!

[Photograph shows Mr Narendra Mahajani, President of RC Garden City and Rtn Nitin Aptikar, Secretary, RC Thane Metro at the two ends. And Rtn Hemant Jagtap speaking on Gazhals.]

Vivek S Patwardhan

Friday, 1 September 2017

'Projecting' Thoughts

Hello Rotarians,

Let me welcome Dhananjay Kulkarni with his family and Sridhar Bharadwaj with his family. They are going to be inducted as members today. Dhananjay is a techie and Sridhar is HR professional – so it is a techie + touchie combination today. 

And I welcome all Rotarians, their family members and other guests.

My thoughts
I am presenting some thoughts for your consideration. I have been a Rotarian and I have also interacted with other Rotarians. It was with a sense of pride that I accepted the position of President of our club.

I have been watching the work of our club as also that of other clubs. I read with interest the quick posts on WhatsApp groups of Rotarians. A question that remained at the top of my mind was: How should Rotarians invest time, energy and money in various types of what is called ‘projects?’ How should we prioritise these projects?

I am taking opportunity to share my thoughts. I am placing my thoughts before you so that we can generate a healthy discussion, and find a strategy for our Club.

I reviewed the projects we have done in recent past. We do some projects regularly: Medical camps, RYLA, Vocational Excellence Awards, Rangoli competition for Balakashram at Angaon, Some project for the Old Age home there, We also have interaction with Nirmala Niketan in every Navaratri, We organise a day out for senior citizens in the winter.

This year we have done a major project which is of gifting an e-learning product.
Let me now return to the question I raised: How should Rotarians invest time, energy and money in various types of what is called ‘projects?’ How should we prioritise these projects?

If we look at the projects which I just counted, they fall in two different areas:

1.    The People Projects: In these projects people or a group of people is the focus of our projects. To my mind projects like Narmada Niketan, Senior Citizen picnic, RYLA fall in this category

2.    The Institutions Projects: In these projects institutions for example schools, are the focus of our projects. Falling in this category will be e-learning project.
When we look at the impact short or long term we see that four types emerge:

Short Term
Long Term
Celebrations, Lunch, Giving shawls or bags to senior citizens, Medical camps,
Providing tools or vehicles, appliances, Skill building, Prolonged counselling, RYLA, Free surgeries, Check dams, Bore well
Sponsoring Games, Arranging Rangoli competition, Essay competition
Solar Power, Closed Circuit TV, E-learning solutions,

We must understand that the time required to execute these projects, Number of people benefited, Degree of difficulty involved and Funds required are four factors which can help us understand the differences and help us prioritise.

People/Short Term: Time Short, Money not very sizeable, Degree of difficulty in arranging is low
People/Long Term: Planning required- Long time, Good amount of funds, High degree of difficulty – Govt permissions etc.
Institutions/Short Term: Time Short, Money not very sizeable, Degree of difficulty in arranging is low
Institutions/Long Term: Planning required- Long time, Good amount of funds, High degree of difficulty – Govt permissions etc.

The issue is what should be focus of our club?

Shall we manage within available resources or shall we garner resources to do the dream projects?
Shall we go for maximum impact in terms of number of people touched like holding painting competitions OR shall we go for in-depth impact like offering parent-child relations counselling?
These are the dilemmas. There is no easy answer. Perhaps the answer is that we should do projects in all areas, and raise funds to do it - not decide projects based on funds available.

My point is that every Board must debate these issues and arrive at the plan for the year. In final analysis such conversations add to richness of Rotary experience.

Best wishes to the new members and welcome again,
Vivek S Patwardhan

Sunday, 20 August 2017

When School Teaches a Lesson

We went to Angaon School today. The weather was unusually unfriendly. It was raining incessantly.

We had decided to assemble at Korum Mall and then proceed together. Before I could reach, Sridhar had already arrived. I looked for him. He was standing under a canopy to protect himself from the rain. There is something about Mumbai’s culture – it teaches you to value punctuality.
As we chatted Pooja called up to say that Sandeep and she would arrive in three minutes. They did. Sandeep turned and reversed his car so that we can get in to it without getting wet. Then came Gopal, and Mondkars. Kulkarnis followed in their red M&M car.

I hopped in Kulkarni’s car. The road was not bad. We reached Angaon.
The school trustees were waiting for us.

Rotary Club of Thane Metro gifted an e-Learning product to the school. It is one of the best products, if not the best. It is also expensive – it costs over Rs 2 Lakhs.

In my brief speech I also announced that we were giving the contract for fitting two Solar Power Systems to Powermax Ltd. It is a contract worth Rs 15 Lakhs.

I mentioned that any Rotary Club will give you such products, and we had really done nothing different from other clubs. Our distinction lied in our approach. We are looking at partnering with the school to develop the character of students and not providing teaching aids or amenities.

This thought clicked with the trustees. Within our club we have a wealth of talent which can be utilised by the school in increasing the effectiveness of learning, or in educating the students. The trustees said they looked forward to long term association with us.

We have also learnt some important lessons. Firstly, there is no dearth of money if you wish to do good work – good selfless work. Secondly, things work well if you spend sufficient time planning it. Thirdly, listening to the ‘customer’ tells you what needs to be done.

We know these lessons. It is just that when everything works well, you rediscover them!

Vivek Patwardhan

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Why Interviews Entertain Us

Interviews are always very entertaining. Sometimes to the interviewer, sometimes to the interviewee, and rarely to both.
At our Club, not only the interviewer and interviewee but the audience also enjoy the interviews.
The rule is simple: Everybody must be interviewed so that we get to know the Rotarian better, but old Rotarians do bossing and get new members-Rotarians interviewed.
We interviewed Umesh Rungta. He is a finance and strategy man. What’s his hobby? [No marks for guessing] he collects coins – old coins I mean. The oldest coin in his collection is about 200 years old! And his daughter has now taken to the same hobby.

Gopal’s interview evoked laughter when he was asked how his wife will describe him in three words. Gopal Khanchandani is a person who laughs easily – he answered sincerely. Veena nodded indicating he spoke truthfully.
Marriage stories – ‘how I met my wife’ – never stop entertaining people. I won’t tell you any here.
Amrita Koli described her journey from learning to make tea to a culinary buff. She is a physio and specialises in aqua therapy.
Interviews, I believe allow us to satisfy our one desire we will never admit to. It is about peeping in the other person’s life. And we discover that each person has a personality which is kaleidoscopic.