(L-R) Pankaj Shah and Shekhar Mehta
PUNE: Rotary International President, Shekhar Mehta today emphasized the importance of adult literacy addressing Rotary members in Pune at the installation ceremony of the newly appointed Governor for Rotary district 3131, Pankaj Shah.
Speaking during a press conference held at JW Marriot today, he said, “Adult literacy currently stands at 74% in India, and further improving this indicator will be one of Rotary’s key priorities in the coming years. Rotary clubs in India can play a pivotal role in actively contributing to the Government’s efforts of achieving total literacy in India.”
Shekhar Mehta is the fourth Indian in 115 years to take office as the President of Rotary International for the year 2021-22 leading 1.2 million Rotary members globally.
“Just like Swacch Bharat Abhiyan, which has brought tremendous change in public health, we have to focus on Sakshar Bharat to improve the literacy rate,” said Mehta who has conceptualized a nationwide literacy program – T-E-A-C-H in India has reached out to more than 50,000 Schools and 15 million children with the help of Central and State Governments.”
According to Mehta, the main focus of Rotary under his tenure would be on empowering girl’s children globally by providing access to education and resources that offer them leadership opportunities in the future.
“Girls and women worldwide face inequities in areas including health and education and experience significant violence and disproportionate poverty. We want to encourage 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,” he added.
With the emphasis on environmental and water conservation, Rotary also has plans to construct 1 lakh dams and rejuvenate 1 lakh water bodies across India in coming years while setting up plastic bottle crushing stations and carry out plantation drives across the country.
“We also want to ensure that 1,000 villages in India get access to pure tap water,” he added.
In the past year, Mehta has also 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 rollout and delivery along with providing infrastructural support to hospitals and COVID-19 care facilities.
“Rotary has achieved a 99.9 percent reduction in polio cases since spearheading the initiative more than 30 years ago but nevertheless we need more steps and awareness to tackle COVID as in villages, there has been a hesitancy in taking the vaccine. The awareness needs to be on a large scale,” he said.
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