It’s clear everyone wants to help but a real question exists as to how best to do so.
There are three primary areas individuals can make a difference: donating to select nonprofits, raising awareness around the issue and checking in on their South Asian friends:
1. Giving to Nonprofits
There are many amazing nonprofits that have jumped to help solve this the Covid-19 issue. It’s worth noting that the nonprofit sector does have participants that have religious or political affiliations that may not be optimal for those giving from outside of India. It’s super important to take the time to do a bit of homework on specific nonprofits prior to making a donation.
There are two specific nonprofits I plan to both contribute and help grow awareness around:
The US Strategic India Partnership Forum focuses on engagement around policy and trade between the US and India public and private sectors. They’ve done incredible work on the ground and have heeded the need of the moment by focusing on Oxygen distribution (by securing Oxygen concentrators), home medical kits (for those who can’t make it to a hospital) and other medical supplies.
The group has created a 501c3 nonprofit called the US India Friendship Alliance that will work closely with the Government of India, the Indian Red Cross and US Industry partners. They have made a goal to secure 100,000 oxygen containers and have already secured 35,000 containers due to the generosity of donors like Deloitte and individuals like USISPF Chairman John Chambers.
Here’s a tweet showing the first shipment of containers arriving in New Delhi earlier this week:
If you are interested in supporting the US India Friendship Alliance institutionally or individually, please:
The American India Foundation was started nearly 20 years ago in the aftermath of another crisis, the Bhuj earthquake in the state of Gujurat that killed nearly 20,000 people and injured another 167,000. Former President Clinton partnered up with leading Indian Americans to start a dedicated foundation oriented around investing in education, livelihood and healthcare.
I had the privilege of seeing this group get started and helping catalyze their first volunteer chapter in the SF Bay Area back in 2003. That experience helped foster my interest in the development sector within India. AIF is focused on the health infrastructure issues and plans to add 2000 portable hospitals across India in the coming months. This gives an additional 2.5 million people access to healthcare. AIF is partnering with both the Government of India (through the office of the Principal Scientific Advisor) and Mastercard on this initiative.
If you’re interested in contributing, please visit
— A group of entrepreneurs, investors and executives within the Indian startup ecosystem came together to help with Covid-19 relief. They are sourcing oxygen concentrators for those most at risk within the startup ecosystem and in partnership with the government of India.
A great initiative has been taken by Sonal Chokshi to capture and curate key organizations and resources in the fight against Covid-19 in India in this Google doc:
Please take a look as its got many useful articles and is updated frequently.
2. Raising Awareness
It’s important to make everyone aware of the severity of the issue at hand. A friend of mine asked how this most affects the US. There are innumerable ways that this will trickle down to the US but here are a few of the key areas:
New Viral Strains
There are a number of cases now in the US of the double mutant strain. These are folks who likely visited India and returned to the US either pre or post vaccination. The looming question is how well do the mRNA vaccines protect against these new strains. Early studies and assertions from immunologists suggest they should be effective in preventing serious hospitalizations or death, but the reality is we won’t know until there’s additional data from the mRNA vaccine manufacturers and the CDC (which could take months). It’s important to not get carried away with the isolated incidents that will likely start getting lots of engagement on social media and local news.
There are going to be significant business continuity issues related to companies that do business with India and have employees located in India. Accenture has 200,000 employees in India and an executive recently noted several have passed away already. There will be significant impacts to the world economy broadly and the US economy specifically with this unforeseen second surge which will undoubtedly affect earnings and the market over the next few quarters. Please ask your employers if they are thinking of offering help in India and offer your time and money to enable saving the critical lives at stake.
3. Checking In
The events in India not only directly affect those resident in the region but also the hundreds of millions of Indians across the diaspora. Mental health is still an underdeveloped field and there are significant cultural stigmas around therapy which hinder having open conversations. It’s incredibly important to try and reach out to your South Asian friends and colleagues to see if they’re doing okay.
Many don’t want to express their stress or grief (especially in professional settings) but they need to know it’s okay to feel anxious and have a safe space to talk if it’s helpful. I’ve talked to many friends and family members over the past week and so many have noted that they’ve not shared widely their own fears related to family members living in India. Many have lost loved ones already and didn’t get to say goodbye.
The impact of Covid-19 will be felt across all ages for years to come and the small acts of empathy and kindness truly go a long way in the healing process.
May marks Mental Health Awareness month and I encourage all to both take time for self care and provide support for others.