Indian business leader and philanthropist from Kolkata takes office as Rotary International President for 2021-2022
Fourth Indian to lead the 116-year-old service organization
Kolkata, July 1, 2021: Shekhar Mehta, Chairman and founder of real estate company Skyline Group and member of the Rotary Club of Calcutta-Mahanagar, today begins his one-year term as the Rotary International’s 111th president leading 1.2 million Rotary members globally.
As president, Mehta will focus on empowering girls globally by providing access to education and resources that offer them leadership opportunities in the future.
“Equality is a fundamental human right, and it’s necessary for a peaceful, prosperous, and sustainable world,” said Mehta. “Still, girls and women worldwide face inequities in areas including health and education and experience significant violence and disproportionate poverty. Rotary encourages clubs and districts to prioritize projects that improve the health, well-being, education, and economic security of girls in their communities and around the world.”
In the last year, Mehta has been actively involved in strengthening Rotary’s response to COVID-19 in India. Under his guidance, Rotary clubs across India are working with local governments and authorities to boost the vaccination roll out and delivery along with providing infrastructural support to hospitals and COVID-19 care facilities. Rotary is also playing a critical role in mobilising relief work across communities most impacted by COVID-19 pandemic.
Mehta has previously spearheaded PAN India initiatives to provide underserved communities with access to clean water and sanitation, healthcare and basic education. He has also led efforts to support communities in disaster recovery in collaboration with the Government of India.
Mehta’s ‘Saving Little Hearts’ initiative, has so far provided over 2500 life-saving heart surgeries to children from disadvantaged families suffering from congenital heart defects across South Asia. He also has been actively supporting the TEACH program that aims at helping India attain 100% literacy by 2027 and had earlier played a pivotal role in recovery efforts after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
“Over the last 100 years, Rotary has grown from just one to 4000 clubs with 1.75 lakh Rotary members in India, and 36,000 clubs with 1.2 million members worldwide. Just in 2019-20, The Rotary Foundation in India supported global grant projects worth 28.4 million USD. Moving forward, Rotary will aim to actively support the central government in achieving the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals across Rotary’s areas of focus,” he added.
As president, Mehta will oversee Rotary’s top priority of ending polio worldwide. Alongside its partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, Rotary has achieved a 99.9 percent reduction in polio cases since spearheading the initiative more than 30 years ago. Since then, Rotary members have contributed $2.1 billion and countless volunteer hours to protect more than 3 billion children in 122 countries from this paralyzing disease. Today, just two countries continue to report cases of wild poliovirus, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Since 1995, Rotary has worked with the Indian government to institute national immunization days each year to immunize 172 million children under five years of age. India has remained polio-free for the last seven years.