Greetings and best wishes to all RCME family members,
The baton has been handed over, the frenzied excitement of the future has become the present. This is it. The new year has started, and the board has plunged headlong into the activities we have carefully curated. The installation was a grand affair with new board’s aurora shining through and the installation committee having done an unparalleled job. I must extend thanks to my fellow Rotarians for placing immense trust in me to lead them through the journey this year. The installation also witnessed a colossal contribution in terms of TRF, wherein RCME was proud to contribute $10,000 to our DRFC Rtn Dakshayani. In with the bustling activities, we have also introduced new and convenient initiatives like e-Directory and e-News Letter and are in the process of upgrading our web site. I appeal to you to download/ browse the same, as this takes us one step forward with the digitization objectives. We are open to new ideas from all the members and will surely put our hearts into making our cumulative dreams a reality! We commenced this year’s activities with Annapathiram and a generous grant from Dr Sai Satish for Tiny Hearts. We further began our 1st board meeting, a roaring success boasting of efficient decisions. The club services activities have been extraordinary, with remarkable speakers and enviable attendance. The first meeting on 06th July witnessed Shri Aravindh Ji from the Vedanta Institute who addressed us on Technology and morality in the context of today’s world. During the second meeting on 13th July, Ms. Aryambha Sriram an Ardent devotee and astute practitioner of Bharatanatyam tackled the topic of demystifying Bharatanatyam. Last but certainly not the least, I would request all of you to participate in the joint meeting with the five Districts set to happen at the Chennai Trade Centre, with the RI President, wherein our club is proud to be one of the sponsoring clubs. With a start so promising, I cannot help but be excited for the rest of the activities and projects this year.
Hoping for your continued support and collaboration,
President Rtn. Ramakumar
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
Documenting change, one word at a time.
Starting off this year right with a stupendous installation, this year’s board has been bustling with energy, kick starting project implementation and club activities. While we were feasting on the poetic effusions by two marvellous guest speakers, the prodigious board has commenced laying foundation for the projects planned. On the newsletter front, we are grateful for the overwhelming response we received for the installation newsletter. As promised, we are open to hearing your suggestions and I have included a short survey at the end of this newsletter which I hope you take a minute to fill it out! Without further ado, here we have the exclusively digital second issue! I hope you enjoy reading it.
With love and commitment,
Rtn. Ramya Subramaniam Assistant Secretary
INSTALLATION – THE BEGINNING AND A CONTINUUM
Installation of the new president and his team is like a wedding in the family – exciting with anticipation running dizzyingly high.The evening saw the new team dressed to the T, men sporting purple ties and women in their gleaming sarees. Individual photo-ops were being pursued with equal enthusiasm. To put it simply, you could equate it to the Oscars!
Past President Srinivasa Rao was at his zappiest, his speech reflecting the lightness in his mood.He welcomed the gathering peripherally outlining some of the key forays made during his tenure. Secretary Magesh then enthralled us with a detailed project report.The introduction of the new team in the form of a snazzy video clip had all the ingredients of a Bollywood potboiler. Srinivasa Rao introduced the incoming president, Ramakumar quite decoratively but not losing out on it being avant-garde.Not many knew that Ramakumar was an engineering student who became a banker and there while handling loan portfolios to realtors he saw the business potential and became a realtor himself.Engaged in community outreach he and his family have been supporting community initiatives by opening their wallets liberally.Handing over the collar and the gavel, one could sense the weight moving off Srinivasa Rao’s heavy-set shoulders in a telling endorsement of a year that saw him foray extravagantly in community engagement.
Newly minted president Ramakumar is anything but hurried, close to being unflappable and comes overloaded with patience.His address was smooth as silk where he outlined the general construct of his year.Outgoing Secretary Magesh handed over the club charter to incoming Secretary Prabhuram and voila a new chapter begins!
We were 250 Rotarians in the hall and even a cursory scan revealed that there were not more than 175 from our club.Visiting Rotarians do bring that dash of fresh breath, delighting in our hospitality.Fellowship was generally vigorous with choice labels being teemed on to empty glasses faster than one can say ‘shaken but not stirred’.The dinner spread that followed was chosen with the cunning intent of not respecting calories.It was an evening that clearly enjoyed sashaying a new year full of promises and hopes.
THE EYES NEVER LIE DEMYSTIFYING BHARATNATYAM
July, 13, 2022
If there was one evening that was complete in all respects, it was the evening of 13th July 2022 at the weekly meeting of RCME.
To start with, it was the menu for hi-tea, so delicately selected, exquisitely prepared and tastefully spread out for our members.
After the President called the meeting to order at 700 p.m., precise to the second, and the normal announcements and project details were shared with the members, it was the speaker, Ms. Aryamba Sriram, who took the meeting to an absolutely different level, bringing in the historical relevance, value based and traditional background of Bharatanatyam in a mellifluous way, unique to her.
The clarity and concise speech that she made, was truly educative to our members. She made up the speech into 4 parts and with each part transcending into the other, she kept the audience spellbound.
The Q&A session that followed was equally elucidating and there she was, giving her replies with care and candour, and a feeling of completeness.
Followed by the Secretary’s announcements and Vote of thanks by Rtn.PE Ramakrishnan, the President adjourned the meeting at exactly 8:00 pm.
This meeting and the talk by Aryamba, should be placed right at the top of our interactions with speakers invited to our Club , being one of the most perfect, precise and professional meetings of RCME, in a long time that has passed and in a long time to come.
So soul satisfying it was,
so complete it was,
so RCME like it was.
Rtn. VA Ramesh
July 6th 2022
The first guest speaker we had this year, Acharya Shri Aravindan from the Vedanta Institute, got the ball rolling with a burst of electrifying energy. Rtn. VA Ramesh introduced the speaker with adulations only apt for Shri Aravindanji. Being no less than a celebrity in his aura, and in the field of spiritual philosophy, his expounding on “technology and morality in the context of the modern world” intricately uncovered the relationship between intelligence and intellect.
To quote one of the many jewels in his discourse, “Intelligence is what is gathered from external sources like school and university, and is primarily used for the purpose of earning a living and to make life better. On the other hand, the intellect is that which one develops by oneself. The science that deals exclusively with the development of the human intellect is termed as Vedanta.” The development of intelligence and technology has no relevance to individual development or his state of mind, and this is what Vedanta is all about
Shri Aravindanji further went on to explain how the development of the intellect is crucial for every individual since unlike other knowledge that can be outsourced, intellect is within oneself. This can be achieved by learning, studying, understanding, practicing and introspecting the Vedanta. Briefly put, the intellect is that which guides one’s emotions, mind and actions supported by the laws of life called Vedanta.
He then progressed to morality, which governs one’s choices and actions. Technology, he says, has no end. The importance of technology lies in its speed. But without the gatekeeping by morality, it merely becomes a distraction. He neatly tied up his lecture by concluding that technology, morality and intellect are not conflicting principles.
A speaker known for his humor and illustrious discourses, he certainly left the audience spellbound and stupefied. While I delivered the vote of thanks, I am sure I was speaking on behalf of the packed room, for the positive jewels of wisdom shared by Shri Aravindanji.
In a grand fashion with Rtn Sudhir as the chairperson, Annapathiram has facilitated the provision of an incredulous number, (1200 meals!), to the following orphanages and old age homes.
Vishranthi old age home
Akshaya old age home
Akshaya old age home
Akshaya old age home
We are so thankful to Rtn K Shivram, Rtn Sudhir and all of the sponsors who made this possible. Without a doubt, we are proud to say, that you are doing god’s work.
COMMUNITY SERVICES, HEALTH
In a heart-warming happening, Dr.Sai Satish, has contributed a generous amount of Rs.4 lakhs towards the exemplary Tiny Hearts project undertaken by RCME. We cannot thank enough, Dr Sai Satish, Rtn Sujatha, Rtn RM Narayanan and Apollo Hospitals for making this project possible with the biggest hearts.
A movie review column from the actor turned critic, K Ramachandran.
Virata Parvam (Telugu)
Virata Parvam is an intense emotional love story based on incidents in the early 90s in Warangal, Telangana. A love story with no flashy dream songs and no dance sequences. It is a story about a naive girl falling in love with a Naxal leader, inspired by his writings. While, it sounds typical of the late 80’s movies, the making of the film is what makes it special and inspiring.
The movie starts off with Karl Marx’s words, “Reason has always existed, but not always in a reasonable form,” which lays the background context that it will be a movie with a specific ideology juxtaposing an emotional love tranche.
Titled Virata Parvam, and based on an essential chapter in Mahabharata where the Pandavas go into disguise mode before the final war, this film talks about the Naxal team headed by Rana, preparing for a long fight.
Rana Daggubati has given an excellent performance as the Naxal leader, who fights for the people, and when Sai Pallavi enters, his life takes a turn and what happens, in the end, forms the rest of the story.
But it is all Sai Pallavi. She excels and once again proves to be one of the best actors in India. She plays an innocent yet very stubborn girl who gets inspired by Rana’s emancipatory art of writing, falls in love, runs away from home, and joins Rana’s team intending to stay lifelong with him. The scenes are bursting with her talent and I would suggest watching the movie, just for her A1 acting.
The next highlight of the movie is Suresh Bobbili’s Music. His BGM adds power to the screenplay whenever it loses momentum and speed. Nandita Das, Priyamani, and others have extended good support.
Virata Parvam! Watch it for Sai Pallavi, Background Music score, and Rana (In that order! ).
Louis Pasteur became so preoccupied with watching microbes that he used to peer through a magnifying glass at every dish placed before him, a habit that presumably did not win him many repeat invitations for dinner.
We are host to bacteria, in numbers inconceivable.An average healthy and hygiene conscious person hosts over a hundred thousand of them in every square centimetre of skin. They dine off ten billion or so flakes of skin we shed every day, plus all the tasty oils and fortifying minerals that seep from our every pore.By way of thanks, they give us body odour!
We are a repository hosting about 10,000 trillion cells at any time. Cells keep dying, some living only minutes while others a lifetime. They are replaced by newer ones willing to continue the good work, excepting the brain cells which are never reproduced or replaced. We are issued with a hundred billion or so brain cells and that is all we are going to get. It is estimated we lose five hundred of them an hour so if there is some serious thinking to do, there really isn’t a moment to waste! So get your Louis Pasteur thoughts on and start brooding over bacteria.
In the over 25 years that I have spent in Rotary in two diametrically opposite parts of the world, this is a question that often gets asked by both Rotarians as well as non-members.At a fundamental level of ‘why give’, I would like to recall two of my most favourite quotes that have guided me personally :Warren Buffett said “If you’re in the luckiest one per cent of humanity, you owe it to the rest of humanity to think about the other 99 per cent.” And Mother Teresa’s most famous words, “Give, but give until it hurts.”
I am not sure if most of us are in the 1%, but there is no question that the spirit of what Buffet said is applicable to every one of us – we are fortunate to be where we are and we owe it to the less fortunate ones.To add to this, I remember distinctly what one of the Past R I Presidents said “Do not look at your Foundation Contribution as an expense.Look at it as an investment – and give even when it is hard for you to set aside some money.The universe has magical ways to provide you return on your investment several times over, both in monetary and other ways.”And I must confess that this has been 200% true in my case.During my initial years in Rotary, I was of the strong belief that Charity begins at Home, and I decided to wait till things got better on my cashflow front to contribute to TRF.Once I heard the above, I started with small amounts, and my own financial situation improved by leaps and bounds.So, the universe does have its ways.
The next dimension of this is ‘Why TRF?’ And my attempt in this piece is to address this as well.TRF is ranked among the best charities in the world – Association of Fund Raising Professionals accorded the “Outstanding Foundation” to TRF in 2017; Global Giving gave TRF the “Leader” status in 2020 for unparalleled contribution in working with other not-for-profit organizations to benefit humanity, CNBC ranked it among the “10 charities that are changing the world”., and to cap it all, TRF has been rated by Charity Navigator (https://www.charitynavigator.org) who rate Not-For-Profit organizations world over in terms of their financial ability, impact on community and transparency of deployment as the highest rating of 4 Star for 13 consecutive years – and TRF scored 100 on a 100-point scale in every single instance!!
Our contributions provide the funds for matching grants.Rotarians should know that 50% of whatever they donate comes back to our District on a 1:1 basis, and the other 50% comes back to our district and other districts around the world as grants from TRF through Global Grants.What we contribute has an impact in a school in Uganda or a hospital in the Honduras – such is the power of our giving through TRF.Just to offer another perspective, at Rotary Club of Madras East, we have executed Global Grant projects worth over Rs 14 crores and US $ 2 Million over the years and have benefitted directly from such grants from the TRF.And, therefore, it is even more incumbent as members of RCME that we do our bit to the Foundation.
The last aspect really is what Rotarians add to the Dollars that are being contributed.Most of us probably know that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has contributed significantly to the PolioPlus initiative of Rotary which has all but eradicated the dreaded disease from the face of the earth – just the second disease after Small Pox to be thus eradicated when it happens in the last two remaining countries.But do we know that they have actually contributed $ 885 Million out of the $ 1.9 Billion plus (as on Jan 2019) that Rotary has so far deployed on this initiative?When asked as to why he chose The Rotary Foundation to earmark such a large amount, Bill said ‘Rotary is the only charity organization in the world that adds to a donor’s contribution and a $ 1 donated by someone becomes $ 1.50!’TRF, as a foundation, incurs less than 8% of the money raised on administrative costs, of which more than 50% is spent on fund raising, and only under 4% on other costs.Astounding, you will agree! And in the same year, 2019, the documented number of volunteer hours of work that Rotarians had put in was 47 Million Hours and that translated to a whopping $ 850 Million in terms of what those efforts would be valued at.
Lastly, all such contributions come with recognitions and there are so many of the recognition categories that is better articulated in a separate piece.But as a ready reckoner, you may visit https://www.rotary.org/en/donate/recognition .
So, dear RCME members, it is time to open our hearts and purses and do our bit for this wonderful organization that we are privileged to be part of – please reach out to Rtn Sudarsan our Fund Raising Chair or Rtn Balaraman, Director -TRF, and make your pledges.‘Give, but give till it hurts!’.
Rtn Balaraman Jayaraman
Thanks for reading ‘Eastern Bridge’, the proud monthly Newsletter from Rotary Club of Madras East.