he club is the oldest and one of prominent institution in Mumbai. The members of the club have initiated many social service projects. Now is the time for celebration for the Rotary Club of Bombay (RCB) which is turning 90 tomorrow (March 19). Ramesh Narayan, President, Rotary Club of Bombay talks about its journey, projects and the way ahead. Excerpts from the interview…
Tell us something the history of the club?
Founded in 1929, the club has a great legacy. The club members meet on every Tuesday at the TajMahal Hotel where many celebrities have addressed the members including Amitabh Bachchan, ShashiTharoor, KapilSibal, PiyushGoyal, VidyaBalan, RaghuramRajan, Maneka and Varun Gandhi. Many past president’s and members have infused the club with a sense of purpose and continuity by completing several blue chip service projects in different areas.
What are some of the successful project initiated in the field of healthcare?
We have been running Phiroze R. Vakil Eye Center for past 36-years at Talwada an adivasi belt near Mumbai. People are provided free eye care, cataract surgeries and even cornea implants. On an average the center performs about 1000 surgeries a year and everything from the procedure to the pre and post -operative care and food is provided free of charge.Other medical and healthcare facilities are provided at AjitDeshpande Medical Center which has a general physician, a dental unit, pulmonary care and a path lab that serves about 24000 adivasis.
In the city of Mumbai a medical centre is being run at Cotton Green in a building provided by the Cotton Exporters and Mukadams Association where a homeopathy clinic, diagnostic center, dental unit and an optometrist giving their services. A child care centre will soon be started as a part of the 90- year’s program. Also in association with the International Women’s Association (IWA) we run a clinic opposite New Excelsior cinema where mother and child care as well as Radiology is provided at very nominal rates. Also a total of 1016 people were screened by the Cancer Aid Committee of the club the partner CPAA. These are again underprivileged people, policemen and even jail inmates. Apart from this, poor cancer patients are supported with grants for their treatment.
What is unique about BhavishyaYaanprogramme? How has it helped students?
The project was started eight year back to support five municipal schools students where the students are given help in spoken-English, computer skills and life skills. The students of the schools have a 100 per cent pass percentage in the board exams against a school average of around 65 per cent.Students are given Threptinbiscuits,peanuts and bananas to tackle the severe problem of malnourishment. Many students have even become successful chartered accountants and engineers after receiving scholarships.Also in Talwada a junior college was opened and solar lightning has been provided to a boarding school.
Giving support to the senior citizen in their golden year has been one of club’s key projects? How are you planning to make it more enriching for senior’s?
An elder day care program called AnandaYaan has been initiated which aims at underprivileged elders who have nowhere to go. The objective is to provide happiness to these poor elders in the evening of their lives. In the past eight month two centres are operating at Byculla andDadarSealink. The elders have a structured program which includes yoga, and fun activities like ‘antaksharis”. Health check -ups and cataract surgeries are organised on a regular basis. Also regular are arranged to watch a movie or visit a temple. Now the Shankar Mahadevan Music Academy will begin a special program at one of these centres where music-centric activities will be provided to them.
What are the different initiatives taken for environment and saving of heritage of city?
We have donated a machine that ingests plastic bottles and spits out pellets that can be recycled to the Cuffe Parade resident Association and a tricyle to collect these bottles from all the 29 high rise buildings in the area. It is also in the process of installing a very ambitious solar electrification system for the Marina Bay View Garden at Cuffe Parade.Over the last three years the club has provided solar electrification to significant parts of the ChatrapatiShivajiMaharajVaastuSangralaya (Museum) and is in talks to provide a major fillip to the museum’s efforts to go completely green and get a Platinum LEED certificate.At the Asiatic Library we are restoring priceless books by contributing to setting up a lab for restoration work of the books and maps.
Also we have donated two animal ambulances to NGO’s like World for All and SOS. It has sterilized over 118 cats in Cuffe Parade itself and is helping renovate a part of the holding facility of the Welfare for Stray Dogs (WSD) at Mahalaxmi.
How has been your journey with the club and what difference has it made to your life?
I joined the club in 2002. I have been privileged to be actively associated with several projects of the club.And this has been very enriching.Just watching the children in the BhavishyaYaan program or the elders when they smile actually gives everyone a real “high”.I believe that if you can impact the life of one individual positively, yours is a life well lived.I have faced only opportunities. Challenges melt in the face of good intent and focused effort. Honestly, working with my fellow members for the underprivileged is a celebration in itself. I would like to re-dedicate the club to its principles of selfless service. That would be the biggest reward.
What are the future plans of the club?
I am keen to start some project involving child welfare and mental illness.We would continue to serve the community through the on-going projects and programs and continue to serve the society meaningfully.