New Delhi: Indian business leader and philanthropist Shekhar Mehta began his term as the president of Rotary International on Thursday.
Mehta, who is the chairman and founder of real estate company Skyline Group and member of the Rotary Club of Calcutta-Mahanagar, will lead the 1.2 million-member global organisation for a year. He is only the fourth Indian to lead the 116-year-old service organization.
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,” he added.
He will also oversee Rotary’s top priority of ending polio worldwide.
In the past one year, Mehta has been actively involved in strengthening Rotary’s response to COVID-19 in India. Under his guidance, Rotary clubs across India have been working with local governments and authorities to boost 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.
Earlier, Mehta had spearheaded pan-India initiatives to provide underserved communities with access to clean water and sanitation, healthcare and basic education.
He had also led efforts to support communities in disaster recovery in collaboration with the Indian government.
Mehta’s ‘Saving Little Hearts’ initiative has provided over 2500 life-saving heart surgeries to children from disadvantaged families suffering from congenital heart defects across South Asia. He also has been 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.