Rotary is the mysterious club whose publications lie around in the offices and homes of every fourth person you know. Most of us vaguely know it's a service club where the most distinguished people of the social crme de la creme
find an outlet to their charitable instincts. But that's all we know.
While the stories going round don't say much about what it actually does, the fact that they are going round is an indicator of the substantial nature of this club. Rotary International is a 1.2 million strong organisation, spread across 168 countries. There are a total of 529 logically delineated geographic districts that are covered under a whopping 32,000 clubs.
What you will come across in Hyderabad is the Rotary International District 3,150, that serves the state of Andhra Pradesh in South Central India. This covers 11 revenue districts and has 66 Rotary Clubs. Of these, 21 Rotary Clubs with 800+ Rotarians are in and around the twin cities, the oldest club being chartered in 1949 and the youngest in 2005.
And all this while you thought it was called Rotary because a bunch of Hyderabadis met in the round aquarium building on Tank Bund
Well, it's not just the command structure that's heavyweight. Rotarians do projects on a massive, almost bureaucratic scale. From health and sanitation to water-based projects, they all target low-income groups, and are commendably grassroot in nature. This means hand-pump installation and deep flouridation, cataract operations, sanitation awareness projects and many more.
Rotary also has innovative schemes such as 'Matching Grants' where funds can be pooled in similar projects that are geographically separate. And as Mr. Khendry, Director, Public Relations, tells us, some of the members working at ground level, though rarely spoken about, are enormously committed and efficient in their efforts.
Rotary also carries out fundraising activities, and since the administrative overheads are absorbed by individual members working on projects, its projects are run with minimal costs. Rotary members meet every week, since one of the objectives of the club is also to foster fellowship and camraderie among members.
Evaluated against its purported objective of "providing humanitarian service, encouraging high ethical standards in all vocations, and helping build goodwill and peace in the world", Rotary Hyderabad certainly seems to be doing a guilelessly beautiful job.