FOURTH LARGEST ROTARY NETWORK

 

India has the fourth largest Rotary network in the world comprising of a force of more than 1,00,000 volunteers who offer their compassion, time and expertise to the programme.


POLITICAL ADVOCACY, RELIGIOUS ADVOCACY, SOCIAL MOBILISATION, LOGISTIC SUPPORT
especially on the Pulse Polio Immunisation Days and SURVEILLANCE are the key areas where Rotary is contributing to make this program acceptable. With multifarious activities like awareness generation through electronic, print and traditional media; involvement of prominent religious leaders from the minority communities, leading personalities from the sports and entertainment world and NGOs; Heads of Educational Institutions; active involvement of school children through the formation of Rotary Polio Sena; and manning of Pulse Polio Immunisation booths with volunteer and transportation support, Rotary has made a major contribution to the eradication programme over the years, which has been widely acknowledged and appreciated by national and international agencies.


POLITICAL ADVOCACY/BUREAUCRATIC ADVOCACY

Rotarians march on with unrelenting dedication and commitment towards the fulfillment of their dream of ridding the world of Polio. With the resurgence of the crippling virus in 2002 in India, Rotary’s advocacy efforts in India gained momentum. The campaign involves: (a) Letter Campaign (b) A series of high-level meetings with State Heads, Party Presidents and Ministers at national and state level.


National Level

  • Meeting with H.E. President of India Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam

  • Meeting with Hon’ble Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh

  • Series of meetings with Hon’ble Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare, Dr. Anbumani Ramadoss

  • Meeting with H.E. Sardar Buta Singh, Hon'ble Governor of Bihar

  • Series of meetings with Hon’ble Union Railways Minister Shri Laloo Prasad Yadav (Former CM, Bihar)

  • Series of meetings with Smt. Sushma Swaraj, the then Hon’ble Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare

  • Meeting with Shri Venkaiya Naidu, the then President, BJP

  • Meetings with Shri Harshvardhan, President Delhi, BJP

  • Meeting with Mr. Sitaram Yetchuri, Leader, CPI (M)

  • Signature Campaign launched to sensitise more and more number of Political leaders

  • Put-up an awareness counter at BJP Headquarters, New Delhi

  • Letter written to all Members of Parliament for garnering Political support

  • Rotary Governors, Presidents and others meeting with their local M.Ps to urge them to involve themselves in Polio Eradication activities.

State Level

  • Series of meetings with State Heads and Health Officials:

  • Delhi: Mrs. Sheila Dixit, Chief Minister; Dr. Yoganand Shastri, Health Minister; Dr. Avinash Kaur Mehta, Director, Family Welfare. 

  • Uttar Pradesh: Mr. Mulayam Singh, Chief Minister; Mr. Ahmed Hasan, Minister, Family Welfare; Ms. Mayawati, former Chief Minister; Mr. Phagu Chauhan, former Minister, Family Welfare; Mr. V.K. Mittal, Chief Secretary; Mr. Rajendra Bhonuwal, Principal Secretary,  Family Welfare; Mr. R.K. Mittal, former Principal Secretary; Mr. Sujeet Banerjee, former Health Secretary; Mr. G.C. Chaturvedi, former Secretary, (Family Welfare).

  • Rajasthan: Shri Ashok Gehlot, former Chief Minister; Mr. B.D. Kalla, former Minister for Medical & Health Education

  • Haryana: Shri O.P. Chautala, former Chief Minister

  • Karnataka: Shri S.M. Krishna, former Chief Minister; Mr. Kagodu Timmappa, former Health Minister; Mr. S.L. Gangadhrappa, Principal Secretary; Mr. B.S. Patil, Chief Secretary

  • West Bengal: Shri Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, Chief Minister; Mr. Suryakant Mishra, Health Minister; Mr. A.K. Barman, Secretary (H&FW)

  • Bihar: Smt. Rabri Devi, former Chief Minister; Mr. Shakuni Choudhary, Health Minister; Mr. K.A.H. Subramaniam, Chief Secretary; Mr. J.S. Verma, Principal Secretary.

BUREAUCRATIC ADVOCACY

  • Rotary Organised two senior level officials Meets involving chief Secretaries/Principal Secretaries/District Magistrates and senior Health officials of ten most endemic states in Delhi during 2003-2004.

  • Keeping in view the grave situation in the States of Uttarpradesh & Bihar, Rotary organised series of high level meetings involving the District Magistrates/CMOs in Delhi, Agra & Patna in 2004.

Involving Religious Leaders

When cases of wild Polio virus touched an unprecedented high in Uttar Pradesh in 2002, Rotary was naturally worried and thought of introducing innovative techniques for garnering support within the minority communities and to overcome  resistance to the Pulse Polio Immunisation drives.

One such initiative was aimed at sensitising certain castes and communities in high risk areas, especially in Uttar Pradesh, about the scourge of Polio and to dispel prevailing myths and misconceptions about Pulse Polio vaccine, the biggest of them being that polio drops trigger impotency in children. These villages were reportedly having high Polio incidence with very low immunisation coverage and were identified as the hot-beds of the wild Poliovirus.  Such a situation in these villages was mainly due to sheer ignorance, leading to  continued resistance to administration of Polio vaccine to children below 5 years of age. 

After conducting a pilot study in a few areas in the state, Rotary approached several religious heads of the underserved communities, who were convinced about the need for lending their support to the program..    The decision to implement the Pulse Polio campaign effectively, with the support and assistance of these religious leaders and organisations  was a significant step as  in our present social set-up, the word of religious heads is accepted as the command of the God by masses. Everyone follows the advice of these religious leaders not only because of the aura  they command in our society but also because at most of the places they are perceived as effective opinion leaders. An announcement or a fatwa from them, ensures compliance of their wishes. That is the reason why it was decided to get in touch with the religious heads.

In spontaneous response to Rotary’s appeals, several prominent Muslim clergies, issued appeals to their communities and followers warning about the misleading propaganda about the Polio vaccine and advising them to fearlessly report with their children at the immunization booths for administering Polio drops to them. Special posters and handouts containing these appeals were  printed and widely distributed by Rotary.

These messages are also being conveyed through pre-recorded audio and  video cassettes and wall posters displayed in cities, towns and villages. During these past two years, Rotary has been quite successful in garnering support from these religious heads  not only from U.P. but also   from other parts of the country.

To begin with, Rotary, with the help of Prof. Akhtarul Wasey , Ex-President, Dargah Khwaja Saheb, Ajmer Dargah Committee, organized a meeting with the top four religious leaders from Ajmer Sharif. The Imams, after being briefed by senior Rotary leaders and experts about the benefits of the campaign, were gracious enough to issue appeals to the devotees during the prayer hours, in mosques.

Similarly  at Deoband, the renowned seat of Muslim learning, the institution heads, were prevailed upon to explain to the community members assembled at religious congregations about the importance of eradicating the polio menace from  the country and to safeguard their children under five against the scourge by taking them, without fail, for receiving immunization doses during NIDs/SNIDs. Rotary also conducted one Polio Corrective Surgery Camp successfully in Deoband on a special request from Darul-Uloom, Deoband, to rehabilitate the polio-afflicted children and make them mobile. This created a favourable impression about Rotary’s program.

The impact of these appeals was immediately discernible and the response from the concerned committees was significant. Later surveys revealed that the booth coverage registered a satisfactory increase in these areas.          

Not only that, religious leaders from  other communities like Father Pinto, Bishop of Delhi,   Sri Sri Ravi Shanker and Swami Agnivesh are also involved in the process of spreading their messages.

Rotary is determined to further  strengthen this relationship with more and more influential religious leaders to end even the last traces of resistance anywhere and ensure optimum  coverage during the upcoming NIDs in 2005.


SOCIAL MOBILISATION

Strategies implemented by Rotary successfully so far-

  • Dissemination of information & distribution of IEC material

  • Use of Audio-Visual Medium, local Radio channels, local cable networks, films, slide shows, playing of audio cassettes

  • Use of Traditional Media including street theatre, nukkad nataks, puppet shows and other traditional media

  • Encouraging Community participation

  • Involving local Schools, Colleges and Universities and other Educational Institutions

  • Involving Religious Leaders and Opinion Makers

  • Involving Celebrities

  • Regular Media coverage.