Rotary keen on roping in Gen Next

With community projects running into hundreds, the Rotary is a thriving entity in India but traditional strongholds such as the United States and Japan are finding it increasingly tough to attract the younger generations.

In an interaction with Deccan Herald, Rotary International President Elect Ray Klinginsmith, who was in Bangalore on Monday, spoke about his challenges and priorities.

What will be your priorities as President and what initiatives will you be pushing forward?

Some of the more pressing issues and projects that the Rotarians need to address are already underway. One of my key priorities is to decentralise the Rotary International and provide more freedom to Rotary districts worldwide. This will empower them to function with more authority and help them access the funds with ease. Another programme that I intend to push forward in a big way is to expand the High School Exchange programme for students from Rotary districts. This apart, we will look at conflict prevention, children’s healthcare, alleviation of poverty and local community matters.

What are the club’s major initiatives in India?

In India our priority lies in the eradication of Polio and poverty. We have managed to make a big contribution towards the eradication of Polio in most Indian states and highly successfully in South India. The states we are most concerned about is Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, where Polio is still rampant.

What are the challenges that lie ahead of you as President of Rotary International?

The foremost challenge that lies ahead of me and the Rotary International is attracting the younger generations to our club. As of today, worldwide we have a membership of 1.2 million people. But this has plateaued. In traditional strongholds, like the United States and Japan, the membership is tailing off, while in South Asia and Eastern Europe the numbers are rising. The younger generation have a different mindset as they do not believe in organisations so much as in the cause. My challenge would be to make Rotary clubs relevant.  

Any new administrative innovations that you intend to bring about in the Rotary clubs?

While most practices are established in the Rotary chapters, they are never the best practices. There is a need to adapt to modern technology and eliminate bureaucracy as much as possible. We have made a start in a small way but we need to take it forward.

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