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  • 26 May 2021 8:39 AM | Rachappa Bellappa (Administrator)

    IBX joining with the global community to help provide India with resources to battle the deadly pandemic

    May 25, 2021 11:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time

    PISCATAWAY, N.J.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Today, Infinity BiologiX (“IBX”), a next-generation central laboratory, announced a $50,000 donation to Sewa International and UNICEF USA to assist with on-the-ground humanitarian relief in India, following the deadly surge in COVID-19 infections.

    “Our hearts go out to the people of India and we are committed to doing our part to help those who are working to provide immediate relief and save lives.”

    IBX’s support will go toward the procurement and distribution of urgently needed oxygen machines, ventilators, personal protective equipment, testing kits, and packages of daily essentials.

    "The pandemic is having a devastating impact in India as COVID-19 outbreaks overwhelm the healthcare system and communities across the country," said Robin Grimwood, CEO of IBX. "Our hearts go out to the people of India and we are committed to doing our part to help those who are working to provide immediate relief and save lives."

    "As we work to support India during the deadly COVID-19 outbreak, Sewa International is grateful to corporate partners like IBX for standing alongside us. Together, we will work to increase access to critical life-saving medical care and supplies," said Sandeep Khadkekar, Vice President for Marketing and Fund Development, Sewa International.

    About Infinity BiologiX

    Infinity BiologiX (IBX) is a market-disrupting next-generation central laboratory supporting academia, government, and industry. IBX provides global sample collection, processing, storage, and analytical services integrated with scientific and technical support in both the research and clinical arenas. As a leader in biomaterials, IBX provides support to the development of diagnostics, therapeutics, and research in the genomics, precision, and regenerative medicine arenas. IBX previously operated as RUCDR Infinite Biologics before spinning off from Rutgers University-New Brunswick in August 2020. For more information, visit

    About Sewa International

    Sewa International ( is a 501 (c)(3) Hindu faith-based charitable nonprofit that works in the areas of disaster recovery, education, and development. Sewa has 43 Chapters across the USA and serves regardless of race, color, religion, sex, age, disability, or national origin. IBX’s connection to Sewa USA was facilitated by PhiladelphiA RAjasthan Mandal (PARAM), a local body of volunteers within the Bharatiya Cultural Center of Philadelphia.


  • 24 May 2021 12:50 PM | Rachappa Bellappa (Administrator)

    In India, Covid-19 (Corona) pandemic’s second wave hit hard suddenly and with the forceofa tsunami. The country was caught off guard and ill prepared for the toll it took. All the focus of the grave situation revolved mainly around the urban areas and rural-tribal areas received scant notice. There was a reason too for this apathy towards the rural community.

    Last year, the villages had fared quite well in arresting the spread of corona, by and large, and the majority of folks there had remained immune to it.As India entered well into Yr. 2021, the situation changed. According to Bajrang Bagra, the CEO of ‘Ekal Abhiyan’ (federation of all ‘Ekal’ organizations), “the serious aspect of the pandemic, this time around, is that it has struck even in the countryside where, unfortunately, the medical infrastructure and facilities are not as strong as they are in the urban areas”.

    In rural India, ‘Ekal’ (as ‘Abhiyan’ is popularly known) has the most widespread network of volunteers and collaborators in the deepest corners of villages. It has firm presence and unwavering support in over 100,000 villages. That’s why Ekal has undertaken a comprehensive well-coordinated offensive against the pandemic, with support from its allied organizations.

    Last year, Ekal’s successful initiative against covid was based on self-monitoring, self-reliance, education and cooperative-exchanges. It included a widespread awareness campaign about hygiene, social distancing, food distribution, mask-making and restrictive movement.

    The new offensive has not only incorporated all these steps in the direct-action roadmap, butalso, has started a proactive counter campaign against the misinformation about the vaccine, the danger posed by covid and voodoo-treatments. With extensive reach well beyond its footings, Ekal has mobilized tens of thousands of its schoolteachers for this information campaign. ‘

    Ekal-Arogya (Health Foundation)’has established a 24-hr telehealth lifeline (# 011 41236457) for professional medical counseling. According to Ramesh Shah, Ekal Global Coordinator and an advisor to Ekal-USA, ‘Board of Directors’, “currently more than 350 ‘National Medico Organization (NMO)’ Doctors in India and some in U.S. are manning the helpline every day”. In addition to various empowering projects for the economic sustenance of the village folks, Ekal has earmarked one million dollars just for covid relief.

    It is converting its 29‘Gramotthan Research Ctrs’ and ‘Integrated Village Development Ctrs’ into corona isolation camps, fully equipped with Oxygen concentrators, PPE kits, Oximeters and basic medicines. After making provision for hundreds of beds it is dispensing Ayurvedic, Homoeopathic and Allopathic medicines as deemed necessary.

    According to Arun Gupta, Chairman of Ekal-USA ‘Board of Directors’, “Ekal has lost many volunteers to Covid and so Ekal has created an endowment fund to the tune of $500,000 – $1Million, as an assistance to their families. It is supplying 15,000 Oximeters and infrared thermometers to its ‘Arogya Sevikas’ (healthcare workers). It has created resident facilities for thousands of its city volunteers, throughout its reach. Ekal intends to extend emergency medical services to 5 million people. It is running vaccination Centers in collaboration with the local govt. These efforts are being spearheaded by Dr. Mukul Bhatia in India and Dr. Rakesh Gupta in U.S., with support from numerous healthcare specialists.

    In this national crisis, Ekal is working alongside various organizations like ‘Sewa International’, ‘AAPI’, ‘Seva Bharati’, ‘Mission Oxygen’ and few others. It is assisting many humanitarian groups who have collected funds for Indian pandemic but have no proper distribution network to dispense them. Ekal is appealing nationally and internationally to its donor-base to contribute to its various relief-work packages. As of now four donor-packages have been floated – Diagnostic Kits $50/village; Telehealth Lifeline $500/30 villages; Supporting Covid Ctr $5000/Ctr; and Supporting Covid Victim $5,000/Family.

    Ekal’s youth groups are also very active in creating awareness and raising funds for this unprecedented fight against the pandemic. One example – Arnav Enaganti from Michigan has taken an initiative to raise funds for Oximeter, PPE Kits and Oxygen concentrators. Come what may, Ekal is confident that with everyone’s help, we can defeat this deadly virus, once and for all. Please support this noble cause and donate generously at


  • 19 May 2021 2:13 PM | Rachappa Bellappa (Administrator)

    HOUSTON — A COVID-19 surge in India has triggered more than 300,000 new cases a day for the last five days in a row. Half of the world’s new cases are now reported there.

    RELATED: Coronavirus 'swallowing' people in India; crematoriums overwhelmed

    The surge has overwhelmed hospitals and created a massive oxygen shortage for patients. So Sewa International USA is stepping up in a big way.

    Gitesh Desai heads up the Houston chapter and represents the national organization.

    “In the last four days, we have raised, through our web page and Facebook page, well over $3.5 million. Our target is $5 million," Desai said.

    Sewa is a Sanskrit word that means selfless service. The organization serves in 20 countries and provides disaster relief. The Hindu faith-based nonprofit has 40 U.S. chapters, including one in Houston.

    “We already sent our initial shipment of 400 oxygen concentrators. It will be delivered by this Friday. Today, we purchased another 2,100 oxygen concentrators,” Desai said.

    Desai said the group is also purchasing ventilators and will be sending volunteers door-to-door in India to provide COVID education.

    “The magnitude of the challenge is so huge. I think it has touched the emotions of every individual,” Desai said.


  • 19 May 2021 2:10 PM | Rachappa Bellappa (Administrator)

    As the virus tore through his family in the Indian state of Maharashtra, Ramesh Bhutada knew he could not sit by his brother’s hospital bed or hug his grieving relatives.

    Instead, the 75-year-old Sugar Land resident picked up his phone.

    From across an ocean, Bhutada consoled his two sisters after the unexpected deaths of their husbands. One died a week before his youngest daughter’s wedding. Bhutada called his brother, who found a hospital bed in a nearby small town, and instructed the younger man to rest after sensing difficulty in his voice.

    “It’s a very tough situation,” said Bhutada. “Any family I talk to over here, I find that someone from their extended family has been affected back in India.”

    Indian American communities across the country — including a sizable population in the Houston metropolitan area — are mourning the deaths of family members, checking on relatives with growing alarm, and launching efforts to help their native country battle the world’s worst COVID-19 surge.

    The unexpected, tsunami-like barrage of cases and deaths has overwhelmed the country’s medical system and shows no signs of slowing. The surge comes months after Indian leaders and health officials declared success in effectively stamping out the virus with a prompt lockdown last spring and strong compliance with the mask mandate. Cases peaked last September, according to New York Times data, but tapered off for the next six months while a third wave slammed the U.S.

    Virus variants, large gatherings and a slow vaccine rollout are among factors experts cite for the current surge in India.

    “Each one of us has been touched in a very deep way,” said Jagdip Ahluwalia, executive director of the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Houston, who has lost multiple family members within weeks. “It’s a tragedy. The system’s just been overwhelmed.”

    The country’s death toll pushed past 200,000 on Wednesday, according to data tracked by Johns Hopkins University, though health experts believe the official tally likely marks an undercount. The daily death count has nearly tripled in the past three weeks, according to the Associated Press. India, the world’s second most populous country, added nearly 380,000 new cases on Thursday, another global record, as it pushed past 18.3 million total infections. The case load is second only to the U.S.

    The rampant surge is overwhelming the country’s health care system, with reports of dire oxygen shortages, desperate pleas on social media from families and doctors with dying patients, and crematoriums running out of space.

    “Everything that you can think of is in critical supply right now,” said Gitesh Desai, president of the Houston chapter of Sewa International. “The challenges are enormous. It’s a mammoth task.”

    As President Joe Biden and leaders of other countries pledge to send help, Indian Americans from the Houston area and elsewhere in the world are raising money and coordinating relief efforts.

    Sewa International, a Hindu nonprofit, launched a fundraiser that by Thursday had garnered more than $5.8 million of its $10 million goal. With the donations, the organization is buying and shipping some 2,600 oxygen concentrators and additional medical equipment to India. Multiple community and professional groups have partnered with the organization, named for a Sanskrit word meaning selfless service, Desai said.

    Additionally, the Houston and Dallas branches of the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce partnered to raise funds for ventilators, Ahluwalia said. The organization secured donations and purchased dozens of ventilators that the U.S. government obtained when the pandemic was overwhelming New York last spring, he said.

    The group shipped 20 ventilators on Tuesday to the Indian Red Cross in Delhi, which will distribute the equipment to hospitals, and this week plans to send 30 more.

    “We are proud of the way the Indian diaspora across the globe, and the communities we live in, have come together,” Ahluwalia said.

    Texas has the second largest population of Indian Americans, behind California, with nearly half a million people, according to Asian American Pacific Islander Data. The Houston metro area was home to the eighth largest community of Indian immigrants in 2018, with 88,000 people accounting for 1.3% of the population, according to Census data.

    “It’s really hitting home,” said Naushad Kermally, a Sugar Land City Council member. “Even though it’s happening there in India, there’s a lot of folks here in Sugar Land and Houston area, and the U.S. for that matter, that have family overseas living in India.”

    In a Wednesday letter to President Biden, Fort Bend County Judge KP George urged the U.S. to initiate emergency measures to aid India. Roughly 100,000 residents in his county have ties to India, George said.

    “Over the last few weeks, family members of thousands and thousands of my constituents are facing death and serious illness,” wrote George, who grew up in a small village in South India. “It is because of my constituents and our interconnected communities that I write this letter.”

    Manisha Gandhi, a member of the board of directors for Hindus of Greater Houston, said her phone is flooded with texts and WhatsApp messages from friends across the U.S. whose Indian relatives are searching for hospital beds, oxygen or other medical treatment.

    Some people are returning to India to care for sick family members or perform last rites for their parents, Gandhi said. However, flights are limited, and the U.S. issued an advisory urging people to avoid travel to India.

    Fear and anxiety are prevalent among the Indian American community, she said. The diverse community has come together, regardless of political or religious affiliations, to contribute to relief efforts. Some people are praying, at home and at temples across Houston, she said.

    “We’re all worried about what’s going to happen,” Gandhi said. “When will it end?”

    The explosive situation caught many off guard. The pandemic appeared to be stable in India, with roughly 15,000 new cases and 100 deaths reported each day in early March. People gathered for massive political rallies and religious festivals.

    Then, early this month, the virus erupted.

    “We thought things were under control, but I think everyone got caught my surpise, including the goverment of India,” Bhutada said. “They were flat-footed, so to say.”

    In a Sunday address, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told citizens to get vaccinated and be cautious, Reuters reported.

    Bhutada, founder and CEO of Star Pipe Products, temporarily shuttered his company’s manufacturing facility in the Indian state of Gujarat when a handful of employees fell ill. He arranged for free meals and COVID-19 protections for his workers. Some have lost loved ones, he said.

    In text messages, Bhutada has tried to remind his grieving employees to stay positive, even as he struggles to do the same.

    In his own family, Bhutada said no one knows how his brothers-in-law, a farmer and retired school teacher, became infected. The men, ages 58 and 64, both died in hospitals when their health rapidly deteriorated. Their wives were not permitted to view the bodies.

    “Fortunately, in the Hindu philosophy we believe in reincarnation,” he said. “This is the only way you can find solace in a situation like this.”

    Amid the onslaught of calamitous news, Bhutada read an Indian news report about an 85-year-old man who gave up his hospital bed for a younger COVID-19 patient. The elderly man died days later. The story has circulated on social media and in Indian media outlets.

    “When you think about someone sacrificing his life, for the life of somebody else…tears came to my eyes,” Bhutada said. “The best of mankind can also show in crisis.”

    Still, the man who believes there is a reason behind everything keeps pondering one question.

    Though he has grasped at explanations for the pandemic — lessons about taking care of each other or simplifying life — Bhutada said he has come up short of an answer.

    “Regarding this pandemic,” he said, “I’m not able to answer why the humanity had to go through this kind of huge suffering.”


  • 19 May 2021 2:06 PM | Rachappa Bellappa (Administrator)

    Private sector, nonprofits, join US in sending aid to India amid COVID crisis


    Tuesday, May 4, 2021

    With restrictions on travel to the U.S. from India taking effect Tuesday, the Biden administration, private companies and nonprofits are working to send supplies and aid to help the country ravaged by the pandemic.

    There are several exceptions, including for lawful permanent residents, spouses or children of U.S. citizens and green card holders, parents or siblings of a U.S. citizen or green card holder under 21 years old, health care and aid workers, and certain government officials with visas. The U.S. policy also says that flights that take off before the end of the day Monday will still be permitted to land after Tuesday.

    The travel ban comes after the case count in India continues to grow rapidly. In 24 hours, the country reported more than 368,000 news cases bringing the total number of cases to more than 19 million, while the total number of deaths is more than 219,000


  • 19 May 2021 2:02 PM | Rachappa Bellappa (Administrator)

    As India faces an overwhelming surge of record-breaking COVID-19 cases and deaths, humanitarian organizations are offering ways to help the country in dire need of resources.

    Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere (CARE), a global humanitarian agency that helps in delivering emergency relief, has been working with its India chapter to provide on-the-ground resources during the crisis.

    Since pandemic began, CARE India has aided more than 400,000 people in the most marginalized sections of the country with PPE and dry ration support, a CARE spokesperson told ABC News.

    "The unabated spread of COVID-19 has placed immense strain on organizations and communities dealing with this humanitarian crisis," CARE India told ABC News. "Marginalized communities face the greatest risk since they are already struggling to meet their daily needs. We at CARE know that the poor communities, as well as women and girls, are at highest risk."

    Currently, the CARE India team is in Bihar and is coordinating with COVID-19 designated hospitals across the country to collect data, administer IT services and support the well-being of health care workers.

    On the organization's website, there are ways to donate to the India COVID-19 emergency.

    Sewa International, a nonprofit organization, announced Sunday it sent an initial shipment of 400 oxygen concentrators and other emergency medical devices to India through its "Help India Defeat COVID-19 campaign," according to a press release Sunday.

    "Naturally, in the current situation, many Americans are concerned about the safety of their extended families and friends living in India. Hundreds of volunteers from Sewa and our partnering organizations are working on the ground in India," Arun Kankani, president of Sewa International, said in a statement. "Right now, our top priority is to quickly acquire oxygen concentrators and ship them to India as it can save lives."

    The organization has also partnered with the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin to raise funds in the U.S., including by providing ways to donate.

    On Sunday, Indian health care officials reported 349,691 new COVID-19 cases and 2,767 new deaths, ABC News reported. President Joe Biden spoke to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday and pledged that the U.S. will immediately help India with the crisis, according to a White House press release.


  • 18 May 2021 1:09 PM | Rachappa Bellappa (Administrator)

    As a second COVID-19 wave rages through India, the country’s health care system finds itself unable to keep up with demand. Without sufficient hospital beds, equipment and, more important, oxygen, India has put out a call for help worldwide. And some members of the Indian diaspora in Connecticut are answering. 

    Sujata Srinivasan, an independent journalist with the Connecticut Health Investigative Team, is raising funds for OxygenforIndia. Formed by the director of the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy, the newly created organization is aimed at expediting the “last mile.”

    The main issue in India, Srinivasan said, is not a lack of oxygen supply but instead a broken infrastructure. In other words, oxygen is available but few have access to it due to transportation, lack of connections, etc. That last mile is where OxygenforIndia comes in, helping bridge the gap between suppliers and patients. 

    “The problem that they’re solving is distribution, which is a huge barrier getting oxygen to people in desperate need right now,” she said. “It’s how do you get it to remote places? How do you get it to small hospitals? How do you get it to homes of COVID patients that cannot afford the hospital?” 

    The volunteer-run campaign has set up “help desks” at several hospitals in overburdened cities. Priority patients can obtain a reusable oxygen cylinder or concentrator with a fully refundable deposit.

    By offering take-home options to patients who can safely recover at home, OxygenforIndia also targets overcrowding in hospitals. 

    “When a wound is bleeding, deeply bleeding, and there is a threat to life, the first thing you do is stop the bleeding. That is increasing the medical oxygen availability to hospitals and ramping up distribution,” Srinivasan said. 

    OxygenforIndia hopes to provide 40,000 cylinders and 3,000 concentrators to hospitals in need. Srinivasan has helped raise more than $4,500 so far. And in an effort to keep donations coming, she’s put her cooking skills on the table. 

    “I’m offering a thank-you gift -- a homemade Indian meal made by me to friends and family who donate more than $100,” Srinivasan said.

    It’s the least she can do, she added, to help her natal country as many struggle to breathe over 7,000 miles away. 

    Just last week, the World Health Organization reported India accounts for 1 in 4 COVID deaths worldwide. And with more than 22 million confirmed cases, India becomes the second country with the most infections -- trailing just behind the U.S. 

    Dr. Sankar Niranjan, a nephrologist with Saint Francis Hospital in Hartford, said the situation is not only alarming but also saddening. He runs the Connecticut chapter of AIM for SEVA, an education trust helping level the academic playing field for rural children in India. 

    The organization has partnered with SEWA International to provide relief. 

    “They’ve raised somewhere close to $10 million as of last week to send oxygen concentrators and supplies to the hard-hit parts of India,” Niranjan said. 

    SEWA international had shipped over 5,000 oxygen concentrators as of Monday, according to its website. 

    But how did India get to this point? 

    New coronavirus variants take the majority of the blame, but they aren’t alone in the case explosion.

    “Earlier this year cases were low, people were feeling confident, and then we had this combination of pandemic fatigue, dropping precautions and lack of vaccinations. And all of a sudden we’re seeing this huge surge and the medical system is completely overwhelmed,” said Dr. Neha Jain, a psychiatrist with UConn Health. 

    She launched a private fundraiser on GoFundMe to help her former medical school peers. In the last weeks, she’s heard numerous accounts from them on how grim the situation is for both patients and those on the front lines. 

    “They have pulled providers that aren’t necessarily trained in western medicine. I don’t know if anyone in medicine is sleeping right now. There is a lot of frustration, but quite frankly there is a lot of fear in the medical community right now because when people’s loved ones are sickened and you can’t save them, people do get angry,” Jain said. 

    In less than a week, she raised almost $5,000 to purchase oxygen concentrators for Mayom Hospital, a private hospital in Gurgaon. The challenge, she said, as an individual and not a large organization is finding a reliable supplier. Many families in the same boat have had no option but to bank on the black market. 

    Along with many others of the diaspora, fundraising and sourcing supplies from miles away is Jain’s way of grappling with the crisis.

    “You feel helpless, but then that intersperses with these impulses to drop everything and run back … but you know you can’t. So you figure out ways to cope. And I think that’s what most people from the immigrant community are doing,” Jain said. 

    While Connecticut, along with most of the country, prepares to return to some sense of normalcy by July 4, Jain said it’s important to remember that we’re not at the finish line just yet. 

    “Even though we are in a good place, the pandemic is not over,” Jain added. “What we’re seeing in India right now can very much happen here in the U.S. We still need to be careful.”


  • 18 May 2021 1:06 PM | Rachappa Bellappa (Administrator)

    As India confirmed 390,000 new COVID-19 cases and nearly 4,000 deaths on Tuesday, there is a dire shortage of hospital space and oxygen. The India Association of New Hampshire is giving its first big donation to relief efforts.

    The association has raised $60,000 so far, thanks to donations from the New Hampshire Charitable and Gupta Family foundations, along with hundreds of individuals.

    “So many Granite Staters have been sending us donations, donations have been pouring in every day,” said Tej Dhakar from the association. “We really appreciate the kindness of the people and their concern.”

    Checks have been written to Together for India and Sewa International, relief organizations sending desperately needed oxygen concentrators to India.

    “We are also going to use these funds to set up and maintain makeshift hospitals with a lot of beds and also provide essential rations and medical supplies,” said Subba Raju Datla from the Boston Chapter of Sewa International.

    Rotary International’s 2,000 members in New Hampshire and Vermont are supporting the relief efforts. So are the New England Maskateers.

    The India Association of New Hampshire hopes to double donations and keep sending life-saving help.

    “The humanitarian aspect has come out, the good in serving the humanity at large, it’s a global pandemic,” said Rep. Latha Mangipudi from Nashua.


  • 18 May 2021 12:23 PM | Rachappa Bellappa (Administrator)

    The cylinders were put onboard the navy warship sent as part of Operation Samudra Setu 2 to pick medical equipment from South Asian and South-East Asian countries

    Global Schools Foundation (GSF) has dispatched more than 500 oxygen concentrators to India for COVID-19 affected patients, as a timely gesture to help the nation deal with the medical crisis in the country.

    These life-saving equipment are in addition to the first shipment of 200 oxygen cylinders sent on an urgent basis as part of a larger consignment onboard the Indian Navy warship Airavat to aid in transportation of medical oxygen and other supplies.  The cylinders were put onboard the navy warship sent as part of Operation Samudra Setu 2 to pick medical equipment from South Asian and South-East Asian countries.

    Global Schools Foundation reached out to Sewa International - a huge network of social initiatives across India - to tap their deep local resources and get these oxygen concentrators to the small towns and villages deep inside the huge country. Through Sewa International, the concentrators will reach locations where COVID-19 patients are in urgent need of medical help.

    “We are saving lives in India by sending life-saving equipment such as oxygen concentrators and cylinders. They can be used within hospitals or at venues of social organisations or community centres,” said Atul Temurnikar, Chairman, Global Schools Foundation. “It is our duty to ensure we reach this benefit to remotest corner of India and GSF would do whatever it can to assist in Covid-relief measures.”

    He further said that GSF will have constant vigil on the evolving medical landscape to ensure quicker response time when situation arises.

    “The 500 oxygen concentrators is a timely step and an important contribution by GSF towards medical relief of COVID-19 patients in India,” said Shyam Parande, Secretary, Sewa International.


  • 18 May 2021 12:19 PM | Rachappa Bellappa (Administrator)

    Less than a fortnight after President Joe Biden in his conversation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged his country's steadfast support for the people of India, America has responded with an unprecedented financial assistance worth nearly USD half a billion.

    Biden spoke at length with Modi last month and conveyed solidarity with India in its fight against the viral disease. He assured the prime minister that the US and India will work closely together in the fight against COVID-19. "Just as India sent assistance to the United States as our hospitals were strained early in the pandemic, we are determined to help India in its time of need," Biden had said in a tweet.

    Reflecting an overwhelming support for a "natural ally", the entire country not only the administration, but also the corporate sector which created a global task force, as well as Americans and Indian-Americans have opened their coffers for India.

    This half a billion dollars includes USD 100 million pledged by the Biden administration, USD 70 million by pharma major Pfizer and 450,000 Remdesivir doses, the governmental purchase price of each of which in the US is USD 390.

    Thousands of oxygen concentrators and plane loads of life saving drugs and health care equipment are flying off the United States for India almost every day.

    Several companies like Boeing and Mastercard have announced financial assistance worth USD 10 million each, Google has pledged USD 18 million, which the Global Task Force that comprises CEOs of top American companies have already pledged USD 30 million worth of life saving equipment.

    Describing it as a “Berlin Life Moment”, Mukesh Aghi of US India Strategic and Partnership Forum (USISPF), told PTI he expects the assistance to touch almost USD 1 billion by the end of the month. “It is emotional for the diaspora, almost everyone has someone who has been touched by COVID-19,” he said.

    Nisha Desai Biswal, president of US India Business Council (USIBC) said, “The outpouring of support from the United States over the past two weeks was a spontaneous mass mobilisation of support for the Indian people from across the America government, business community and diaspora community and the American people.” “It is unprecedented, and it reflects both the deep bonds between our two countries and the gratitude that Americans feel for the role India played in supporting the United States when we were experiencing our COVID surge last year,” she said.

    However, given the “speed and severity” that have overwhelmed the capacity of hospitals and local authorities, more assistance will be needed and for a sustained period of timescale of the pandemic, Biswal said.

    People of the country and the Diaspora too have come out in large numbers. Indian-American Vinod Khosla has committed USD 10 million, top corporate leader John T Chambers has promised USD 1 million.

    For the first time in its history, Sewa International has raised USD 15 million; American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) (USD 3.6 million), Indiaspora (USD 2.5) million and Jai Shetty has raised USD 4 million.

    “There has been overwhelming support and offers of assistance from the US Government, private sector, diaspora and the American public at large. In fact, in my interactions in recent days, the US interlocutors across the board ask me, ‘tell us what more we can do for India'”, India's ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu told PTI.

    “They recall with fondness the help India gave. These are reflective of strong partnership and close people to people ties between our both nations. We deeply appreciate these gestures. We will continue to engage with the US in our collective fight against the pandemic,” he said.

    Among other major financial contributions announced include Procter and Gamble (USD 6.7 million); Merck (USD 5 million), Walmart (USD 2 million), Salesforce (USD 2.4 million), and Caterpillar (USD 3.4 million). Companies like Deloittee have announced to 12,000 oxygen concentrators to India.

    While Microsoft is partnering with the US government in providing aid and oxygen, FedEx and UPS have taken up the mantle of taking care of the transportation of life saving health care equipment like oxygen cylinders, ventilators and oxygen concentrators to India.

    On Sunday, Indian-Americans from Tamil Nadu including eminent philanthropist M R Rangaswami, held a “Help Tamil Nadu Breathe” to raise USD 1.5 million in few hours. “This is an incredible outpouring of generosity, which people have come to expect from America. When the world has a crisis, beyond politics, beyond dispute America steps up,” Rangaswami said.

    “It is comforting to see US cargo jets with much needed medical supplies landing at the Delhi airport regularly,” said Karun Rishi, president of the USA-India Chambers of Commerce. Noting that the stakes are very high for the entire world, he said India's success or failure to come out of this once in a century crisis will have a direct impact throughout the world. Echoing Biswal, Rishi said that more needs to be done.

    “The scale of assistance to India needs to increase and speeded up. To make some reasonable impact to tide over this crisis, India may need between USD 25-USD 50 billion in assistance in the form of vaccines, technology transfer, increasing vaccines and therapeutics manufacturing capacity, medical equipment and public health measures,” he said. PTI



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