Amidst reports about India's super rich paying thousands of pounds to beat a new travel ban in the UK and managing to reach there 44 minutes before the deadline, there are many other wealthy Indians too who have chosen, instead, to help the country fight the second wave of COVID-19. Take for example, Mukesh Ambani, the chairman of Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) and India's richest person. He is personally supervising COVID-related work from the company's Jamnagar refinery. There are many corporates, who are busy in extending a helping hand in the COVID war.
Google and Microsoft also have pledged to support India as the country battles record numbers of coronavirus cases that have overwhelmed hospitals.
Sundar Pichai, chief executive (CEO) of Google and Alphabet tweeted: "Devastated to see the worsening Covid crisis in India. Google & Googlers are providing Rs135 crore in funding to @GiveIndia, @UNICEF for medical supplies, orgs supporting high-risk communities, and grants to help spread critical information".
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella says that the company is mobilising its resources to help the COVID-ravaged nation. "I am heartbroken by the current situation in India. I'm grateful the US government is mobilising to help. Microsoft will continue to use its voice, resources, and technology to aid relief efforts, and support the purchase of critical oxygen concentration devices," Mr Nadella tweeted.
After Google and Microsoft, Apple CEO Tim Cook has also extended its support to India as the COVID-19 crisis in the country is deepening.
"Amid a devastating rise of Covid cases in India, our thoughts are with the medical workers, our Apple family and everyone there who is fighting through this awful stage of the pandemic. Apple will be donating to support the relief efforts on the ground," Mr Cook said in a tweet.
Back home, the Tata group in a tweet, says it is importing 24 cryogenic containers to transport liquid oxygen and help ease the oxygen shortage in the country. Tata Steel is providing 200-300 tonnes of oxygen every day to several states and hospitals.
ArcelorMittal Nippon Steel India is also providing 200 tonnes of medical oxygen to medical facilities in Gujarat. The company's chief executive Dilip Oommen says, "Given the unprecedented challenges triggered by the Covid-19 surge, ensuring the health and wellbeing of our fellow citizens comes first for us, and there is nothing more important than saving lives.”
Similarly, many companies, including Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL), Hindustan Zinc Ltd, Jindal Steel & Power Ltd, are coming forward to supply oxygen to various states. SAIL has supplied 33,000 tonnes of oxygen to date from its plants in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, and West Bengal. Hindustan Zinc is providing 5,000 litres of oxygen in Udaipur from its Dariba plant. Jindal Steel also is supplying 50-100MT (metric tonnes) of medical oxygen to hospitals in Chhattisgarh and Odisha.
In a statement, Sajjan Jindal, chairman and managing director (CMD) of JSW group, says, “Oxygen is a raw material in steel plants, and at this crucial time, we have committed to the government to prioritize saving lives over steel making.”
To address shortage of oxygen tankers in the country, the Union government has imported 20 cryogenic tankers of 10MT and 20MT capacity and allocated them to the states.
Last week, the Indian government exempted basic customs duty on oxygen, oxygen-related equipment and vaccines. To augment their production and availability and to meet the rising demand, it was decided to grant full exemption from 'basic customs duty' and health cess on import of items related to 'oxygen and oxygen related equipment' for three months with immediate effect. Besides, it was decided that basic customs duty on import of COVID vaccines be exempted with immediate effect for a period of three months.
Amazon is donating 10,000 oxygen concentrators and BiPAP machines to hospitals and public institutions to augment their capacity to help COVID-19 infected patients across multiple cities in India.
Amazon has joined hands with ACT Grants, Temasek Foundation, Pune Platform for COVID-19 Response (PPCR) and other partners to urgently airlift over 8,000 oxygen concentrators and 500 BiPAP machines from Singapore.
Additionally, Amazon India is also procuring over 1,500 oxygen concentrators and other critical medical equipment in partnership with non-profits including Swasth, Concern India and impact organisations like ACT Grants and Sattva Consulting.
"We stand firmly with the country, deploying our global logistics network to urgently airlift the needed oxygen concentrators to support the nation's immediate need," said Amit Agarwal, global senior vice president (SVP) and country head, Amazon India.
Amazon will bear the cost of airlifting these oxygen concentrators and BiPAP machines, procured through multiple funders including ACT Grants and PPCR from Singapore to India through Air India and other international carriers.
Additionally, the company will also manage the movement of these oxygen concentrators and other donations from the local airport to identified hospitals and institutions.
Automobile manufacturer MG Motor India has tied up with Devnandan Gases to increase the production of medical oxygen. This will help in increasing the production capacity by 25% in the next two weeks with the vision of increasing it further to 50% soon.
Founded in 2011, Devnandan Gases is one of the key medical oxygen gas producers from Vadodara.
Fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) company Procter & Gamble (P&G) has pledged Rs50 crore towards one million vaccine doses covering 500,000 Indians. "For every P&G employee in India, the company is contributing towards the vaccination of 100 Indians. In addition, the company will also cover the vaccination cost of its over 5,000 employee force in India, and their eligible immediate family members," the company says in a release.
Meanwhile, the US Chamber of Commerce and CEOs from over 40 companies on Monday announced to provide the country with critical supplies.
The new US public-private partnership—A Global Task Force on Pandemic Response: Mobilising for India—will provide the country with critical medical supplies, vaccines, oxygen and other life-saving assistance amid an unprecedented surge in coronavirus cases.
"What we are witnessing in India is a stark reminder that while the US has turned a corner in our efforts to combat the pandemic, our global partners are facing a staggering health crisis that requires a substantial public-private response," says Suzanne Clark, president and chief executive officer of the US Chamber of Commerce, in a statement.
As part of these efforts, the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation has developed Resources for India's Covid-19 Crisis, including a portal through which American companies can offer in-kind donations.