One of the star speakers at the inaugural session of Houston Convention was Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and through a video speech he drew several parallels between Rotary’s core principles and goals, and developments in India, which were impacting the entire world.
Giving an example of how these developments were having a positive impact on the world, he said that when the Covid pandemic came, “people thought India with its large population will not be that successful in its fight against the pandemic. The people of India proved them wrong. We administered two billion doses of Covid vaccine to our people. Similarly, India is working to eliminate TB by 2025, five years earlier than the global target of 2030.”
Drawing another parallel between Rotary’s ethos of Service Above Self and traditional Indian beliefs, Modi said thousands of years ago “our saints and sages gave us a powerful prayer which said all living beings should be happy and lead a healthy life. In our culture we also say great souls work and live only for the wellbeing of others. We are the land of the Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi who showed in action what living for others really means.”
He said in today’s world, “we all exist in an interdependent, inter- related and inter connected world. Swami Vivekananda said very well that not one atom in this world can move without taking the entire world with it. It is important that individuals, organisations and governments work together to make our planet more prosperous and sustainable.”
Expressing happiness that Rotary was working “in several causes that have a positive impact on the earth,” the Prime Minister said sustainable development was the need of the hour. “Inspired by our centuries-old ethos of being in harmony with nature, 1.4 billion Indians are making every possible effort to make our earth cleaner and greener. Renewable energy is a growing focus area and at the global level India has taken the lead in forming the International Solar Alliance.”
Congratulating Rotary for working actively to provide clean drinking water, sanitation and hygiene, Modi said that his government had initiated the Swachh Bharat Mission in 2014 and “in five years we achieved near-total sanitation coverage. This benefitted the poor and India’s women in particular.”
At present India was marking 75 years since “freedom from colonial rule. A new collective movement has now taken shape to save water; this has been inspired by our age-old practices of water conservation combined with modern methods.”
Drawing another parallel between Rotary and India, Modi said, “Your cause of growing local economies is very relevant in a post-cold war world. The Atmanirbhar movement taking shape in India aims to make our country self-reliant and also contribute to global prosperity.” India had one of the largest and fastest growing start-up ecosystems in the world, many of which were trying to provide solutions to global challenges. “India is home to one-seventh of humanity, and we remain open to learning from global practices and sharing ours with others.”
These were only a few examples, he said, inviting the Rotary family to support these efforts at the grassroots level. He also invited the global community of Rotarians to join Indians in observing the International Yoga Day on June 21. “Yoga is an effective passport to physical, mental, intellectual and spiritual wellness. Can the Rotary family observe yoga day in a large way and promote the practice of yoga among its members? You will see the benefit of doing so,” he added.
He congratulated Rotarians, all successful people in their individual fields, “for coming forward to make the planet a better place.”