Rotary marks a presence in Arunachal with a Rotaract club

Welcome to the land of the rising sun. Rotary is now present in ­Arunachal Pradesh, the ­northeastern state known for its scenic wonder and pristine beauty, through Rotaract Club of Namsai which was chartered on Aug 14 after three decades of wait, since RID 3240 was formed in 1990.

Interestingly, prior to this, the state of Arunachal Pradesh had no presence of Rotary. Which means this Rotaract club has reached this northeastern state, even before a Rotary club could!

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RAC Namsai charter president Khusbu Sharma

Some other records were also created in the process — this new club is the fourth in South Asia being chartered by another Rotaract club, RAC Tinsukia; and the district is the second one in the region to achieve this rare feat, a Rotaract club sponsoring another one.

Understandably, DRR Tushar Jalan is on cloud nine. “Our district has entered into the record books of RSAMIDO and we have received all ­documents from them. With 15 new ­Rotaractors, the new club was formed in Arunachal under the leadership of ­charter president Khusbu Sharma. We are confident of growing to a 35–40-member club by the end of June 30, 2021,” he says. RAC Namsai, a ­community-based club, would not have been possible but for three persons — Jalan, district secretary general Amit More and the ­redoubtable Khusbu, whose “good rapport with the tribals and district officials made it easy to open a club,” says the DRR.

Six months of hard work

Being a frontier state, Arunachal shares a long border with China and “due to security concerns and strategic ­reasons, the ­government ­usually does not give ­permission to NGOs to operate here. Also, the tribals are very sensitive about sharing space with outsiders,” explains Jalan. But after seeing the brand value of Rotary and the reach of Rotaract among the youth, “the District Commissioner R K Sharma gave us permission to start the club and we are happy to have the ­blessings of the CM Pema Khandu,” says Khusbu.

DRR Tushar Jalan with RIPE Shekhar Mehta and Rashi.
DRR Tushar Jalan with RIPE Shekhar Mehta and Rashi.

She is now working with Jalan to open a Rotary club in this state within a year. Rotary Club of ­Tinsukia has extended logistics and other support to Jalan in setting up a Rotaract club in Arunachal Pradesh.

However, it took six months to complete all formalities after a special team from District Commissioner’s Office visited the area, interacted with the tribals to get their feedback and made a ‘pros and cons’ study on the feasibility of having such a youth club in a primitive habitat. Following a positive signal from the locals, thanks largely to the goodwill Khusbu enjoys in this remote belt, “we got a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the DC.”

A solemn pledge

During his ­swearing-in ceremony on July 12, Jalan took a pledge to start Rotaract clubs in Arunachal, Manipur and Mizoram as “my vision is to spread Rotaract into all parts of northeast India during my DRR tenure.” His next stop is Manipur, followed by Mizoram (October) where spadework is on to start Rotaract clubs. Jalan owns Intercone Global, a company which is into corporate governance, branding and marketing and has a successful family business in Jalan’s group known for quality tea. “I invariably use my good relationship with top police officers, local officials and entrepreneurs across the northeastern region to promote Rotaract in a big way.”

Rotaractors from RAC Nehu, Shillong, presenting a Sanman citation to a Covid warrior.
Rotaractors from RAC Nehu, Shillong, presenting a Sanman citation to a Covid warrior.

Project Rakshitam with a tagline ‘guarding Covid frontline warriors’ is a huge success as 400 Rotaractors from 30 clubs have so far distributed face shields, hand sanitisers and pedalled sanitiser pumps worth over ₹2 lakh. The money came through self-funding by Rotaractors.

Project Sanman (to bestow respect) has felicitated over 500 Covid warriors with certificates of appreciation. “We honoured frontline warriors including ambulance drivers, sanitary workers, nurses, bank staff, policemen, garbage pickers and doctors from across our district.”

Project Sayhata

A mega flood-relief project with a tagline ‘Assam needs you’ has caught the imagination of the youth and the public. “Each year around five million people of Assam and thousands of animals and livestock are affected by the deluge in Brahmaputra River,” explains Jalan. When he took over as DRR, he formed a partnership with 12 different Rotary, Rotaract clubs and districts to raise money for taking up relief and rehab measures for the flood affected ­people. Till August, “we have raised ₹1.5 lakh to set up flood relief camps at five places in Assam.” Those sheltered in Rotaract camps were given ration kits, food, groceries and essential items such as mattress, coil and utensils, etc for daily living. Around 1,500 families are being accommodated at the flood shelters.

Rotaractors distributing flood relief assistance under Project Sahyata.
Rotaractors distributing flood relief assistance under Project Sahyata.

In the final phase of Sayhata, the Rotaractors led by Jalan donated flood-relief material worth ₹1.25 lakh to Rupatchithi Sankar Dev Sisu Niketan, a government school for tribals at West Karbi Anglong. The donated items include two bookshelves, 100 chairs, five teacher’s tables, three multipurpose boards, two water filter units, two dustbins, chalks and markers and five LED tubelights.

More clubs, members

Members of RAC Gangtok Royale donating face shields to a policeman under Project Rakshitam.
Members of RAC Gangtok Royale donating face shields to a policeman under Project Rakshitam.

While there are 60 clubs according to the RI registry, only 40 are active in RID 3240 with their ­office-bearers motivating Rotaractors to take up community projects. He started his DRR tenure with a district membership of 878 Rotaractors and the goal to take that number to over 1,000. Till September, four new clubs were opened and in a historic event, 175 new members were inducted in a single day (Aug 28) at a  zoom event.

DRR Tushar Jalan and RID 3240 secretary general Amit More (3rd from right) along with Rotaractors.
DRR Tushar Jalan and RID 3240 secretary general Amit More (3rd from right) along with Rotaractors.

“We are confident of opening six more clubs and our strength nearing 1,500 by June 2021, a membership growth of 71 per cent,” he says And hopefully, a new Rotary club in Arunachal Pradesh by this time next year, he says, which will be a defining moment for the 115-year-old service organisation.

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