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Indian technocrat Kalyan Banerjee to lead Rotary as its 101st president

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  • Only the third Indian to be elected President of Rotary International
  • Banerjee will target polio eradication as his top priority
  • His theme will focus on the belief: reach within to embrace humanity

In a proud moment for Rotary India, Kalyan Banerjee, director of United Phosphorus Limited, the largest Indian agrochemical manufacturer, chairman of United Phosphorus (Bangladesh) Limited will take office tomorrow as president of Rotary International, www.rotary.org - one of the largest humanitarian service organizations in the world. During his tenure as president until June 30, 2012, Banerjee will lead a global network of 1.2 million business and professional leaders from more than 200 countries and geographical regions who, through volunteer service, help meet the needs of communities worldwide. 

Banerjee is a member of the Indian Institute of Chemical Engineers and the American Chemical Society, a past president of Vapi Industries Association, and former chair of the Gujarat chapter of the Confederation of Indian Industry. He earned a degree in chemical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, has been an active member of Rotary Club of Vapi, District 3060, India since 1972 and is only the third president of the international organization from India. Speaking about the he said, “It’s an honour to be the third Indian chosen to serve the world’s premier service organization, Rotary International – in its 105 year history. More than ever before, I believe, Rotary is ready to take on its role as the world’s leading non-governmental organization in working for people to come together, for progress, prosperity, and peace.”

As president, Banerjee oversees Rotary’s top priority of eradicating polio, a crippling and potentially fatal disease that still threatens children in Africa and Asia – including India. Since 1985, Rotary club members worldwide have contributed more than US$1 billion and countless volunteer hours to the effort.  Rotary is also working to raise an additional $200 million to fulfill its commitment for a $355 million challenge grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Great progress has been made, and the incidence of paralytic polio infection has plunged worldwide from 350,000 cases in 1988 to fewer than 1,300 in 2010.

As one of the four remaining polio endemic countries, which also include Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan, India’s fight against polio remains strong with the volunteer and financial support from Rotary. In addition, Rotary's sustained political, bureaucratic and religious advocacy efforts at national, state and district levels have made a significant impact on the program in India. In 2010, the number of polio cases in India was 42. In 2011, there has been just 1 case in January in West Bengal, and not a single case in the critical, high risk areas of U.P. and Bihar for close to a year now.

Mr. Banerjee is based in Vapi and has spearheaded several community developmental activities there. Through Rotary, he has helped set up the Gnyan Dham High School, Haria Rotary Hospital, ROFEL Commerce and Arts College, C.D.Patel Gujarati Medium Technical school, a Science College, a Pharmacy College, and a MCA program and MBA program for Graduate Students. Over several years, these initiatives have changed the social fabric in the industrial town of South Gujarat and Banerjee has been actively involved in every project.

He has also initiated developmental work in the Dang district in Gujarat for the upliftment of the tribals. Through the ROVADAN Trust (Rotary Vapi Dang Development Trust), Banerjee has launched several projects to better education, healthcare and sanitation, vocational training, micro credit manufacturing and imparting marketing expertise for products made.

Rotary sponsors the largest privately funded international scholarship program in the world. Since 1947, Rotary has contributed roughly half a billion dollars to fund a year of study abroad for 38,000 students from 100 countries. These cultural ambassadors use the skills and knowledge they acquire through their time abroad to advance the cause of international understanding, goodwill, and peace. Rotary also sponsors seven Rotary Centers for International Studies in peace and conflict resolution at eight leading universities in different parts of the world.

Rotary clubs around the world, apart from working to solve individual challenges in development in their communities, have been working on national and zonal initiatives on a multitude of areas including AIDS and blindness prevention, maternal and child health issues, hunger projects, environmental upgradation and other projects.

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