On April 26-27 2011, Rotary International’s INPPC organized the National PolioPlus Orientation and Planning Meet – 2011 at New Delhi. RIPE Kalyan Banerjee; PRIPs Wilfrid J. Wilkinson & Rajendra K. Saboo; Trustee RF Ashok Mahajan, RIDEs Shekhar Mehta and Y. P. Das; Chair RI’s INPPC Deepak Kapur, Dr. Hamid Jafari, Project Manager, WHO; Dr. P. Narayana, Vice-Chair Rotary INPPC, PRIDs O.P. Vaish and Panduranga Setty; Rod Curtis, Communication for Development Specialist, Polio Unit, UNICEF ; TRF Coordinators and Dr. Bina Vyas, President Elect Inner Wheel club graced the occasion with their presence. The event was attended by District Governor Elects and incoming District PolioPlus Chairmen of 31 RI Districts in India, and representatives of Polio Partner Agencies.
Welcoming the participants, Chairman Deepak Kapur remarked that the battlewas half wo, with the graph of Polio cases down to the lowest mark in the history of the campaign.He added that the new leaders will create history by hosting the victory flag by eradicating Polio Virus from the country. Trustee RF Ashok Mahajan called on incoming Rotary leaders to give their best so that the sweat of millions of Government health workers and volunteers of partner agencies who have worked for two decades will not be wasted
Admiring the amount of work done by Rotary, PRIP Raja Saboo said that Rotary is not just a partner in Polio eradication campaign but is the Principal Partner who had initiated the campaign at the global level He advised Rotarians of India especially from Polio-free states to remain careful before any situation like Murshidabad or Malegaon emerges.
PRIP Wilfrid Wilkinson praised the work done by health workers and volunteers of Uttar Pradesh where no Polio case has been reported since last 1 year. Praising the efforts of Rotarians across the globe, he said, “I remember the dedication of Rotarians when the campaign was launched and year after year Rotarians are working to increase immunization coverage of polio vaccine. I have traveled in trains and buses to reach the masses. I have also been to slums in Delhi urging parents to bring their children during immunization. India is full of challenges for such a campaign and if we can replicate in all India the success gained by overcoming the challenges in U.P., polio can surely be eradicated from India.”
Dealing with the technical aspects of the campaign, Dr. Hamid Jafari of WHO in his presentation “Polio virus knows no boundary” described how the virus has travelled from one part of the globe to another, increasing the eradication challenge manifold. He added “Reports show that children of migrant parents miss vaccination as compared to other children because of their movement. And to eliminate this dangerous disease it becomes very important to cover this migrant population spread across the country.”
Rotary International’s incoming President Kalyan Banerjee during his speech praised National Committee Members and other Rotary leaders for successfully bringing the number of polio cases down to a historic low level. He said, “Initiatives taken by Rotary, providing cellular phones to village volunteers in UP, engaging Muslim Ulema Committee in Lucknow, approaching Health Ministry in Punjab and reaching to Chief Minister of Bihar to accelerate the campaign in this decisive year has produced fruitful results for the campaign.” Addressing the new Rotary leaders who will take charge simultaneously with him, he added, “In this decisive year of campaign I need your passionate support for the campaign”.
During the concluding session on the second day of the event, President-elect Inner Wheels India Chair ,Dr. Vina Vyas said that women power can play a very important role in convincing the female folk of families who resist Polio vaccine because of rumours. She further added that two of the ten goals given by her for Inner Wheel clubs can help in eradicating Polio from India. “One of which is adoption of a village by Inner Wheel club to provide basic health facility in that village and second one is conducting Women Development Programme which provide knowledge of good parenting and healthy sanitation practices in villages,” she added emphatically.
Speaking on the occasion; Rod Curtis, Communication for Development Specialist,UNICEF, thanked Rotarians for their valuable contribution in strengthening social mobilization and advocacy aspect of the campaign. “UNICEF is working to sustain and increase high level of community and political ownership of Polio Eradication Campaign. We are also working to reduce missed children particularly in High Risk Groups for Polio spread,” he added.
RIDE Shekhar Mehta called on DG’s to make area specific strategy for their respective regions for the coming year. He also called on Rotarians to do everything possible for the campaign and give their best to make sure that Polio virus doesn’t emerge again in India. In his speech, RIDE Y. P. Das emphasizing the importance of commitment to the cause whole heartedly at this stage of the campaign urged Rotarians to work selflessly for the benefit of millions without caring about credit.
Also, during the meet NCM Manjit Sawhney was recognized for his leadership in implementing the strategy of Rotary’s Polio Campaign in Western Uttar Pradesh.
The Rotary Foundation and Rotary International’s INPPC honors Ms. Rajashree Birla
At a special function hosted by The Rotary Foundation and Rotary International’s INPPC on April 26, 2011 at Hotel Taj Mansingh, New Delhi ,Ms. Rajashree Birla was honored on her being awarded the Padma Bhushan by the Government of India.
Ms. Rajashree Birla, has contributed more than USD 4.5 million to Rotary towards eradication of Polio.
Dignitaries of Rotary; RIPE Kalyan Banerjee, PRIPs Rajendra K. Saboo & Wilfrid J. Wilkinson, Trustee RF Ashok Mahajan, DGs & DPPCs (2011-12) and other Rotary leaders from India were present to mark the event. The function was presided over by Mr.Deepak Kapur, Chair, Rotary’s INPPC.
RIPE Kalyan Banerjee, conveying his hearty congratulations to Smt. Rajashree Birla for her outstanding work said, “Smt. Birla, by contributing to Rotary and other social causes, you have led the way for Business leaders in the society. You are the pride of our country and we Rotarians are honored to have you here with us today.”
Trustee RF Ashok Mahajan spoke of Smt. Birla’s tireless efforts in Corporate Social Responsibility which have left an indelible impression on the corporate leaders in India. “Smt. Birla has always been a great moral support for Rotary in India. She has been financially contributing not only towards Rotary’s goal of Polio eradication but also for numerous social causes”, said PRIP Raja Saboo. During his address, PRIP Wilfrid J. Wilkinson said that it is because of generous contribution from corporate houses across the world, Rotary has reached so far in raising funds for the Gates Challenge Grant. “I believe that contribution by Smt. Birla will inspire more corporate leaders to come forward and contribute for the campaign,” he added.
Responding to the citation presented by the Rotary Leaders, present at the occasion Smt Birla said, ”I am so closely associated with Rotary which is no less than a family to me and today this honour has further strengthened the feeling of belongingness that I share with Rotary,” She added,”I am a mother and being a mother I would always wish a healthy life for my children and so does every mother. I would like to congratulate National PolioPlus Committee for the remarkable effort in bringing down the number of polio cases to 42 in 2010.
Smt. Birla was awarded with the Padma Bhushan, India’s third highest civilian award, on January 26 2011 by Her Excellency, President of India, Pratibha Patil in recognition of her exemplary social and humanitarian service to the underprivileged in the country.