Posted by Ryan Hyland
Incoming Rotary International President Shekhar Mehta urged members to become more involved in service projects, saying that caring for and serving others is the best way to live because it changes not only other people’s lives, but also our own.


Shekhar Mehta, a member of the Rotary Club of Calcutta-Mahanagar, West Bengal, India, revealed the 2021-22 presidential theme, Serve to Change Lives, to incoming district governors on 1 February during the Rotary International Assembly. The assembly, a yearly training event for district governors-elect, was originally set to take place in Orlando, Florida, USA, but was held virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mehta spoke about how participating in service projects through Rotary changed him as a person and made him empathize more with the needs of others. Soon after joining his club, he helped carry out projects that benefited rural communities in India.

Some of the poor conditions he saw in those communities strengthened his commitment to service. “I truly understood the plight of my brethren,” he said.

Mehta participated in initiatives that brought artificial limbs to children, clean water and sanitation to homes, and better health care facilities to communities.

“Rotary kindled the spark within me to look beyond myself and embrace humanity,” he said. “Service became a way of life for me and I, like many others, adopted the guiding philosophy that ‘Service is the rent I pay for the space I occupy on this earth, and I want to be a good tenant of this earth.’”

To be able to do more through service, Rotary needs to increase membership, Mehta said. Membership has hovered around 1.2 million for the past two decades. He challenged the incoming governors to be catalysts in their districts to help increase membership to 1.3 million by 1 July 2022. Mehta’s Each One, Bring One initiative asks every member to bring one person to join Rotary within the next 17 months.

Increasing membership while also continuing our commitment to eradicating polio, fighting COVID-19, and serving our communities is an ambitious goal. “And that should excite you,” Mehta said. “Rotarians love challenges.”



What do others think of Shekhar Mehta ?

Kamal Sanghvi, Rotary Club of Dhanbad, India, Rotary International Director, 2019-21 writes:

People are so accustomed to thinking like everybody else that they are afraid to explore the possibilities of their mind. Shekhar, on the other hand, has an uncanny ability to picture something that isn’t yet there. He sees possibilities where others find dead ends. 

He constantly questions the status quo and thinks of improving the Rotary experience, product, or service. Shekhar is one of the most innovative people I have known. He has a solution for every problem. 

Shekhar has a tremendous capacity to overcome obstacles with sheer steadfastness and grit. He will not sleep until he achieves his goals, no matter how hard that may be. His team members do not rest either, and Shekhar ensures that each one follows a mantra of excellence. 

For him, everything has to be larger than life. Thinking big is not unique, but thinking big and achieving the audacious is. Shekhar believes that a dream is not what you see while sleeping; a dream is what won’t let you sleep. He believes that “love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries; humanity cannot survive without them.” He also believes that if you cannot keep your family happy, you cannot keep anybody else happy.