Pune: Rotary clubs in India will focus on adult literacy and women empowerment and will also play a pivotal role in actively contributing to the government’s efforts of achieving total literacy in India, stated Shekhar Mehta, President of Rotary International, the fourth Indian to lead 1.2 million members of the organisation globally in its 115 years of history.

Shekhar Mehta, President of Rotary International

“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. We aim to make India 95-100% literate by 2027,” said Mehta while speaking during a press conference held at JW Marriot, Pune recently.

He was in Pune for the installation ceremony of Pankaj Shah, who has been recently appointed as the Governor of Rotary International District 3131.

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 Swachch 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 having 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 child 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 of 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 one 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 roll out 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 hesitancy in taking the vaccine. The awareness needs to be on a large scale,” he said.

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