Rotary International president Kalyan Banerjee called for renewed co-operation between countries in South Asia, to make the most of the opportunities presented by what he called the age for South Asia, in a rapidly and drastically changing world.
“This time, more than ever, we need to bring our countries closer together, strengthening the many bonds that already exist from our geography, history, traditions and our very ethnicity and emphasizing the very opportunities for coming closer in the future with and through our new generation of youth to enhance networking,” he emphasised while addressing a vast gathering of local and foreign dignitaries at the inauguration of the Rotary South Asia Conference on Development Co-operation.
Banerjee went on to say that if the robustness and the many independent characteristics that highlight the initiatives today in Asia can enhance even further the good that is happening and the bonding that is growing, then he believes that the next two decades and more will be decades for South Asia in the world which is so much in the process of rapidly changing today.
“This is a time when the whole economic order of the world is changing rapidly - this is the age for South Asia with the world changing quickly and drastically. This is the time when strength can be gained from the South Asian population of which 65% is 30 years of age or lower. This opens up opportunities for setting up new traits and starting up new trends, of joining hands and coming together, changing the quality of life itself in South Asia by starting to pave a new highway which will lead to great prosperity through our coming together and co-operating together,” he stated strongly.
The Rotary International president also called for putting economics first and politics second, as this he believes results in both getting much stronger. He also commended the strengthening ties between the media in South Asia and noted that everyone from writers to sportspeople to actors are all coming together on different platforms, happening both with and without Rotary in all of the countries present at the conference.
Speaking about Rotary International itself, Banerjee proudly stated that the year 2011/2012 is a unique year in the history of the 106-year-old organisation as today, Rotary not only has the second president over the period of 22 years from India, but for the first time also have two directors on the board of Rotary International at the same time also from India. This means that 20% of the board on Rotary International is from South Asia, which he highlighted as an exceptional feat. In the recent five years, three of the five presidents of Rotary International have in fact been from Asia.
Moving onto the work done by the organisation globally, he proudly spoke of the biggest initiative taken on by the Rotary International – PolioPlus, their global polio eradication initiative and their role in this has lead to the near eradication of it from the world, 26 years since the initiation of the project.