Chandigarh on Wednesday welcomed KR ‘Ravi’ Ravindran, the newly appointed world president of Rotary International.
Ravi is on a three-day visit to the city, where he will meet children being treated under the Rotary Heartline project of Rotary Club Chandigarh, inaugurate an E-Learning centre at the Government High Secondary School in Manimajra, and later address Rotaractors and Interactors of the city on ‘Keep India Polio Free’.
A native of Sri Lanka, Ravi says he is now a ‘world citizen’. Appointed the world president in September, he has no personal agenda to leave a legacy; for he says then “I will be lost.”
Ravi’s aim is to manage Rotary’s global programmes and inspire Rotarians around the world to respond to their immediate community needs and engage people to work together for a better world.
“I am now a world citizen, not a Sri Lankan, and my job is to keep the bus on the road,’’says Ravi, here in Chandigarh to visit various projects undertaken by the Rotary Clubs in the city.
Rotary International is the world’s largest voluntary service organisation, headed by the World President who is elected from amongst Rotarians. Ravi is the first Sri Lankan to head Rotary International, and has taken two years off from his position as CEO of a publicly-listed tea-packaging company with worldwide clientele.
“The next one year will be completely dedicated to Rotary programmes around the world, and I am looking forward to visiting various countries as part of this plan,” says Ravi, who has once been Sri Lanka’s Businessman of the Year and is the founding president of the Sri Lanka Anti-Narcotics Association.
“I joined the Rotary when I was 21, and it was to find new friends and meet people. Over the years, the service aspect of Rotary grows on you, you get immersed in it. Meeting people with the same goals, feelings and the desire to give and share makes you hone your talents. You share, network, learn from each other, get a wider view and perspectives and make life-long friends. Young people can benefit so much from this organisation,” says Ravi.
Talking about the various programmes of Rotary in the fields of education, literacy, health and others, Ravi said Rotary International’s priority remains to eradicate polio to protect children around the entire world.
“We have to raise money to finish the job we started. After small pox, polio is the second disease that needs to be eradicated. India is polio-free, but to keep it so will require constant effort. Also it’s important that we be visible and encourage everyone to do something for their own community. The aim is to reach out,’’ he said.
Ravi was accompanied by Chandigarh-based former Rotary International President Rajendra K Saboo and Rotary District Governor David Hilton, who shared initiatives that Rotary is making in the country and the region, where literacy, sanitation, hygiene, etc are the thrust areas.
“We will be discussing our hygiene and sanitation projects in Government schools in the city, our medical missions to various countries, rebuilding schools in Uttarakhand and our work to provide shelters and rebuild schools in Nepal after the earthquake,’’ says Saboo.