When the young spread their wings…

Isn’t it as astonishing as wonderful that the Rotary family had to make its entry into the scenically beautiful northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh through the Rotaract Club of Namsai which was chartered this August? This after a three-decade wait since the formation of RID 3240 in 1990. The state is yet to have a single Rotary club! This is because of security concerns as Arunachal Pradesh shares its border with China, and the GoI is reluctant to allow NGOs to operate here; and the tribals are wary about those from outside the state influencing and changing their values and lifestyle. As V Muthukumaran’s article in this issue points out, DRR Tushar Jalan has enough reason to be on “cloud nine”, as this Rotaract club becomes the fourth in South Asia to be chartered by another Rotaract club, RAC Tinsukia, and the district is the second one in the region to achieve the rare feat of a Rotaract club sponsoring another one.

As our cover story points out, while Rotarians across India have reached out to the less fortunate during the corona pandemic, helping out with both food — hot meals and dry rations — as well as safety aids such as masks and sanitisers, Rotaractors have stood by their side shoulder to shoulder to render such invaluable community service. I was amazed to note so many projects done by Rotaract clubs, all sponsored by Rotary Club of Bombay, which are detailed in the cover story. Apart from the number of community service projects they do, it was educating to note that each of them had some kind of a strong linkage with social media.

The power and energy, and more than that the optimism and compassion of the young are unparalleled. Combine it with the power of social media and it makes an explosive cocktail — to do good. Take for instance, the case of the octogenarian couple in Delhi’s Malviya Nagar who run Baba ka Dhaba. A young man who visited it found the 80-year-old chacha who owns it weeping because the pandemic had hit his dhaba hard and he was hardly getting any customers. This youngster took a video of the man weeping and posted it on twitter asking people to help him. It caught the eye of celebrities such as cricketer R Ashwin, who offered to help the couple but was requested to retweet it instead. He did so, urging his 9.8 million followers on Twitter to ensure that the old man’s spirt was not broken and added: “Let’s do our best for him.” Other celebrities joined in. The video, and with it the appeals, went viral and in no time, Delhiites were queueing up at the dhaba, to sample the food, not to mention the television crews. It was so heartening to find that the chacha, who could be seen kneading more atta for the rotis in demand, along with his paneer-mattar, dhal etc, hardly had the time for interviews!

It required just one youngster, one mobile phone and one tweet, as also a large and compassionate heart, to bring about such a difference in two elderly people’s lives.

Rasheeda Bhagat

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