Vice-President of India M Venkaiah Naidu urged delegates at the Centennial conference of Rotary India in Kolkata to ensure that the declining interest in youngsters to take up agriculture as a profession was arrested. He suggested that Rotary should train and skill youngsters to become “agri-entrepreneurs”.
Recalling his visit to the 2014 Chennai Zone Institute where Rotary signed an MoA to work with the Indian government for the Swachh Bharat campaign, he said, “I understand the importance of working together with you and learning from each other’s experiences,” and listed out Rotary’s humanitarian activities in various fields across the country.
Rotary must promote awareness, particularly among youngsters, about the harmful effects of a sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy food habits.
Earlier a delegation of senior Rotary leaders — RIPN Shekhar Mehta, Convenor of the summit and RID Kamal Sanghvi and RID Bharat Pandya, along with the Centennial Summit Chair Vinod Bansal, Joint Chair Anirudha Roy Chowdhury and Secretary Kishore Kumar, took the Vice-President around the HoF. He was particularly impressed with the stalls that showcased Rotary’s WinS and Literacy programmes and complimented Mehta for the series of activities Rotary India has lined up during the centenary year.
Touching upon climate change and its impact on the world, he urged Rotarians to promote programmes to protect the environment. He stressed the importance of sanitation and clean water and expressed concern on the increase in non-communicable diseases. “Rotary must promote awareness, particularly among youngsters, about the harmful effects of a sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy food habits.”
Underlining the importance of peace, Naidu said the involvement of local communities was essential to create a global consensus on platforms such as the UN for a strong policy framework against all forms of terrorism. “Peace is a prerequisite to development. Everyone should work to curb the menace of terrorism,” he said.
Highlighting that more than 60 per cent of Indians still live in villages, Naidu urged Rotary to focus on strengthening rural economy. “Lack of basic amenities and employment opportunities in rural areas is causing forced migration. We should seriously work towards bridging this rural-urban divide,” he said and appealed to all countries to come together to address global challenges such as illiteracy, poverty, gender and social discrimination.
He made special note of the generous contribution of Rajashree Birla, Chairperson of the Aditya Birla Foundation for Community Initiatives and Rural Development, and D Ravishankar, past president of RC Bangalore Orchards, to Rotary. There is no dearth for such kind-hearted people in India and it is up to us to identify and impress upon them to contribute for worthy causes, he said.
Acknowledging Rotary’s “phenomenal role” in polio eradication in India, Naidu said that this achievement was “a perfect example to show how the government and committed NGOs can forge effective and successful partnerships to work for common good.”
He was accompanied by West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankar and Minister for Science and Technology Bratya Basu.
Pictures by Jaishree