Pranab Mukherjee, the president of India, today received Rotary International’s highest accolade.
At a special ceremony, he was given the Award of Honor, a recognition given to heads of state or government who have rendered unique service to humanity and served the country and its people upholding values reflected in Rotary’s motto, “Service Above Self.”
The award was presented by Ron Burton, president of Rotary International, citing Mukherjee’s ongoing efforts in leading the battle against polio in his country.
According to IndiaToday.com, at a function to celebrate India’s polio eradication victory he noted, “If we work together unitedly and with commitment, nothing is impossible.” But, he cautioned, “It is necessary for us to remain ever alert and watchful. Our people would continue to be at risk of re-infection till the whole world is fully free of the polio virus.”
Mukherjee also remembered former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi as a “young and visionary” prime minister who had sought to make India free of polio when nobody thought it would be possible.
He said experts had feared that India’s high birth rate, population density, poor sanitation and low level of awareness about polio would make the goal of polio eradication almost impossible to realize.
“India has demonstrated that despite all the constraints faced by health authorities in a populous and very large developing nation like India, eradication of diseases like polio is possible,” the president said.