Posted on Apr 15, 2021
Rotary needs to grow more and do more with bigger, better and bolder projects, according to Rotary International President for 2021-22, Shekhar Mehta, of the Rotary Club of Calcutta-Mahanagar, West Bengal, India. President Elect Shekhar spoke to 61 members of the Rotary Club of Tsawwassen on April 15 and Rotarians visiting from nearby clubs and from as far away as India and the Philippines.
Mehta says Rotary needs to become more contemporary and adaptable by focusing on partnerships with governments and corporations, expanding partnerships with organizations that specialize in Rotary’s areas of focus, and investing in technology.
By the end of his term as President, on June 30th, 2022, he hopes Rotary will have grown from its steady position of 1.2 million members to 1.3 million. Each member can aim to bring a new member to Rotary in the next 15 months and that can make the difference.
Mehta acknowledges that current membership trends are a challenge and says that membership development should be Rotary’s highest priority. He believes that focusing on regional plans, successfully transitioning Rotaractors into Rotary clubs, and increasing diversity and female members could yield a 5 percent net growth in membership each year.
Interesting speakers at club meetings can engage current members. New clubs can be formed around special interests as cause-based clubs or as satellite clubs.
“A major brainstorming is needed to find effective solutions suited to different areas of the world,” says Mehta. He adds that regional ethos and culture have to be taken into account to find localized solutions, as “one size does not fit all.” He believes Rotary can extend to new geographical areas and countries.
Because 90 million children, many now adults, are walking normally without the crippling impediment of polio, after 3 billion vaccinations have been administered to young children worldwide, ever since Rotary started the global end polio campaign 35 years ago, Rotary International has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. That is a cause that has brought all Rotarians together to get something valuable done on a large scale. More can be done in other causes.
"The biggest gift of Rotary for me is the ability for me to touch a life in some positive way."
Mehta, an accountant, is chair of the Skyline Group, a real estate development company he founded. He is also a director of Operation Eyesight Universal (India), a Canada-based organization.
Mehta has been actively involved in disaster response and is a trustee of ShelterBox, UK. After the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, he helped build nearly 500 homes for families affected by the disaster.
Mehta pioneered a program that has performed more than 1,500 life-changing heart surgeries in South Asia. He is also the architect of the TEACH Program, which promotes literacy throughout India and has reached thousands of schools.
A Rotary member since 1984, Mehta has served Rotary as director, member or chair of several committees, zone coordinator, training leader, member of The Rotary Foundation Cadre of Technical Advisers, and district governor. He is also the chair of Rotary Foundation (India).
Mehta has received Rotary’s Service Above Self Award and The Rotary Foundation’s Citation for Meritorious Service and Distinguished Service Awards.
He and his wife, Rashi, are Major Donors and members of the Bequest Society.