Rotary International conferred living legend actor Amitabh Bachchan with the Polio Eradication Champion Award, for his tireless commitment and invaluable support to the Polio eradication campaign in India. The Award was presented to him at a special ceremony in Mumbai attended by Polio Partners, including philanthropist Smt. Rajashree Birla, and senior Rotary leaders. In a significant endorsement of the country’s aggressive anti-Polio drive, India was taken off the Polio Endemic Countries’ Watch-list by W.H.O. (World Health Organisation) in January 2012.
Rotary International is the spearheading member of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative and is the largest private sector donor to the cause. Till date, Rotary has contributed nearly US$ One billion (Rupees 5000 crore) worldwide. In India alone, Rotary’s contribution stands at over US$ 158 million (over Rs. 790 crore). The elimination of this dreaded disease in India is perhaps one of the most notable milestones achieved by Rotary.
The Rotary Foundation Trustee Ashok Mahajan said :
"India is going strong without a case of Polio for nearly 15 months now. Any celebration related to this achievement is incomplete without the mention of Shri Amitabh Bachchan and his long association with the campaign. The Polio Eradication Champion Award is in recognition of Shri Amitabh Bachchan's exemplary contribution and allegiance to the goal of Polio eradication".
Shri Bachchan has been associated with the campaign since the early 2000 and is credited with making the campaign popular amongst the masses – in towns and interior rural areas - through his popular Polio PSAs on TV and radio. As Polio ambassador, he has time and again urged, appealed, advised parents to immunize their children against Polio. By giving his voice and commitment to Polio eradication he has ensured that the campaign is in the public eye and attention.
Acknowledging the award Shri Amitabh Bachchan said :
“This International Award recognizes the contribution of the Government of India, Polio partners, W.H.O and UNICEF, health workers and Rotarians in India who have made a special commitment to this cause. It is humbling that I could be a part of this global effort and make a difference. I am grateful to Rotary who initiated this global campaign and have honored me with their Polio Eradication Champion Award. I dedicate this Award to our countrymen and assure my continued support to the efforts in making our country and the world Polio-free.”
“The one year Polio-free milestone is historic for our country! India was amongst the last four countries still to end Polio but we overcame that this year. We still have two more years to go without a virus to be certified Polio-free and I am confident that with this encouragement and renewed commitment, we will achieve our goal in 2014,” he added.
Polio Eradication Champion Award of Rotary International is one of the most prestigious Awards in the Polio eradication campaign. "The Polio Eradication Champion Award was established in 1995 to recognize governments, world leaders and individuals who have made outstanding contributions toward the goal of eradicating polio - Rotary's top philanthropic goal. Shri Bachchan truly deserves to be in this admirable list", said Rajendra K. Saboo, Past President of Rotary International.
"In order for India to be declared Polio-free, we still need two more years to go without any incidence of Polio. The case in West Bengal as reported on January 13, 2011 remains the only incidence so far. The endorsement and support of public figures like Shri Amitabh Bachchan gives the necessary impetus and credibility to the effort not just nationally but globally as well", observed Deepak Kapur, Chairman of Rotary’s India National PolioPlus Committee.
Leaders who have been honored with Rotary's Polio Eradication Champion Award include past United States President William Jefferson Clinton, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom John Major and Tony Blair, First Lady of Egypt Mrs. Suzanne Mubarak, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) Secretary-General Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the Gates foundation co-chair Bill Gates Sr., Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Philanthropist Rajashree Birla and Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh amongst others.
About Rotary International:
Rotary is an organization of business and professional leaders united worldwide to provide humanitarian service and help to build goodwill and peace in the world. It is comprised of 1.2 million members working in over 32,000 clubs in more than 170 countries. Rotary members initiate community projects that address many of today’s most critical issues, such as violence, AIDS, hunger, environment and health care.
Rotary International is the spearheading partner of a global partnership – WHO, UNICEF, CDC – to eradicate Polio. Rotary’s commitment to end polio represents the largest private-sector support of a global health initiative ever Rotary International has so far invested USD 1 billion (Rs. 5000 crores) globally of which USD 159 million (Rs. 795 crores) have been spent in India alone. Rotary volunteers throughout the world have helped organize national immunization days, staffed health stations and given drops to children. In addition to Rotary’s fundraising efforts, hundreds of Rotary members will travel at their own expense to join fellow Rotarians in polio-affected countries to immunize children against polio during national campaigns. So far in India Rotary has actively been involved in Social Mobilization and political, bureaucratic and religious advocacy to make Polio immunization widely acceptable.