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Crisis in India: What can business do to help?

Lord Karan Bilimoria, CBI President

Just three months ago, the sad deaths in India were less than 100 per day in a country of 1.4 billion people. Two months later, the situation had deteriorated significantly. It has been awful to watch this tragedy unfold.

The UK and India share a close bond based on our enduring ties and ongoing close cooperation. I was proud to chair the B7, hosted by the CBI (Confederation of British Industry) earlier in May, where we unanimously agreed to tackle the global challenge of the pandemic on a united front. If we are not able collectively to control the spread of the virus it will remain a huge risk for lives and economies around the world. No one’s safe unless we’re all safe.

Since April 26, I have been working with my team at the CBI on an urgent basis, reaching out to our members, including our members who are leading trade associations, to stand in solidarity with India. The CBI are working very closely with the Indian High Commissioner, Gaitri Issar Kumar, and her team in London and the British High Commissioner, Alex Ellis, and his team in Delhi as well as the UK Department for International Trade. The CBI office in Delhi is involved throughout and we are in constant touch with the Confederation of Indian Industry, our sister organisation in India.

It is inspiring how the business community in the UK and CBI members have stepped up to support this cause; the generosity and willingness to help has been immediate and substantial. Businesses have really stood up to the plate to respond to the crisis in India, just as many had done in the UK previously, from offering charitable donations to the provisions of medicines and oxygen related products. Thank you to all of you for all that you are doing. 

The CBI’s goal is to help others do the same and ensure the overall response is amplified, relevant and focused in a way which helps India. Actions which businesses can take now include supporting a charity active in the India Covid response, offering goods and services needed on the ground in India, or supporting employees in India and beyond.

3 actions that business can take now

1.​ Support a charity active in the India Covid response

CBI members, businesses and their employees across the UK have been donating to charities supporting communities across India. We want to work together to set an ambitious target to create even greater impact. 

The CBI is working with the British Asian Trust, (BAT), which has launched the India Recovery Fund (IRF)  to provide support where it is most needed. The IRF is the next phase of BAT’s hugely successful Oxygen Appeal, for which many of our members have helped raise welcomed funds.

The India Recovery Fund’s target is to raise £3m to go towards funding the three most important challenges facing the people of India right now:

  • Accelerating vaccinations and urgent medical care
  • Rebuilding livelihoods
  • Protecting mental health of children

CBI members Accenture and BT have helped set up the India Recovery Fund and made the first donations.

“We’re proud to have supported our long-term partner the British Asian Trust on the hugely successful Oxygen Appeal, and are pleased that we can deepen this partnership as a founding partner of this new initiative to help secure a better future for India,” said Andy Wales, Chief Digital Impact & Sustainability Officer at BT.

To provide some context of what we can achieve:

  • 50,000 strong vaccination workforce trained to accelerate the rollout of the vaccines and provide basic healthcare to tackle the spread of the virus
  • Enable thousands of people achieve a sustainable income through skills and support to grow a business or access jobs in critical sectors, such as healthcare and logistics
  • 300,000 children have the skills, emotional resilience and resources to return to school and continue to grow and thrive

Should you wish to donate or learn more please contact:

Ellie Jones, Senior Programme Fundraising Manager at British Asian Trust (ellie.jones@britishasiantrust.org / 07496 131 657) or the CBI.

Other CBI member’s have also supported the British Asian Trust and other charities:

Moto Hospitality colleagues were so moved by the horrific scenes, they wanted to help. By holding raffles, bucket collections, hair-shaving, bicycle rides and setting up a Just Giving page, they have raised an incredible £25,000 which will save more than 15,000 lives,” said Ken McMeikan, Moto Chief Executive.

Willis Towers Watson continues to make wide ranging contributions in India towards our collective fight against Covid by supporting NGOs and charitable institutions, ” said a spokesperson for Willis Towers Watson.

2. Offer goods and services that are in need on the ground in India

At this crucial moment we are urging UK firms to donate critical resources and supplies where they can. We are also working with institutions to support the set-up of Nightingale type hospitals in India.

Items needed include: Oxygen generators, ventilators and breathing apparatus, lateral flow tests, empty refillable oxygen cylinders, cryogenic tanks of 30/40/50 metric tonnes, ISO containers, in situ oxygen manufacturing plants for hospitals, oxygen generator plants, bilevel positive airway pressure (BPAP) machines, PPE, warehousing, transport & logistics. There is also an urgent need for medicines such as Remidisvir, Regeneron, Tocilizumab and Favipiravir to treat those with the virus.

The CBI is additionally working with Rotary International to support effective distribution.

“Rotary International’s extensive footprint across India enables us to support implementation and get equipment to the right place at the right time” said Nayan Patel, UK Special Advisor, Rotary India Covid Taskforce.

If you think you can offer these products or services then please reach out to peter.werner@cbi.org.uk who may be able to link your business up with the relevant contact at the Indian High Commission.

Over the past few weeks, CBI members have come forward to support with critical resources. My thanks for to all of them. Just a few examples include:

“Working closely with the CBI, Peak Scientific has been able to provide oxygen to those areas in India with the greatest need, redirecting operational resources to meet demand,” said Jonathan Golby, CEO.

PG Paper Company Ltd, pivoted its business, working round the clock to procure and deliver thousands of oxygen concentrators to India.  Over 1,000 units have already been delivered,” said Puneet and Poonam Gupta OBE, Joint Chief Executives.

Pfizer has mobilized the largest humanitarian relief effort in our company’s history. We are rushing shipments of Pfizer medicines from our distribution centers in the U.S., Europe and Asia that have been identified as part of India’s COVID treatment protocol,” said Ben Osborn, Managing Director and Country Manager UK.

“As part of a global response by Linde plc, BOC.  We have donated 5000 medical oxygen cylinders to the Indian Red Cross and are working with the charity Medaid to send our spare oxygen concentrators to India,” said Steve Thompson, Executive Director Sales & Marketing.

“Following the call to UK business to support India from the CBI, Rentokil Initial plc has begun to ship 288 pallets of PPE (inc. coveralls, masks, gloves) and Hand Soaps & Sanitisers - worth around £2.5m. These will be used in 500+ hospitals across India,” said Andy Ransom, CEO.

Mott MacDonald are working with the CBI and sharing our experiences and lessons of the UK’s COVID-19 response, where we helped deliver four temporary nightingale hospitals across the country,” said S S Acharya, Managing Director India.

Amazon is using its global logistics network to purchase, airlift and deliver some of the critical medical equipment identified by the Government of India and local charities. Amazon will deliver oxygen concentrators from Italy, ventilators from the UK, and nebulisers and inhalation devices from Germany,” said a spokesperson for Amazon Europe.

Vodafone has undertaken specific initiative with social sector partners and few hospitals in 5 cities in India to provide essential equipment including oxygen concentrators, cylinders, ICU and PPE for community support,” said a spokesperson for Vodafone.

3. Support your employees in India and beyond

For businesses, the support and wellbeing of their employees is paramount. Many UK companies have colleagues living and working in India who will have been impacted directly by the pandemic.

The Chief Human Resource Office India Action Group has been formed by a number of global businesses to share ideas and practical information among chief HR officers trying to help their people in India. As a network, the aim is to collaborate to expedite getting help to our people and the communities in which they live and work, it is expected to connect more than 100 global HR leaders and provide a platform to share resources and best practice.

Should your CHRO be interested in getting involved please ask that they register with CHRO.India.Action@accenture.com  

And for your employees, such as those of Indian origin in the UK, please share with them organisations like GiveUsAShout who a offer free, confidential and anonymous text support services to those who need mental health support. Text SHOUT to 85258.

The health and safety of our people is our utmost priority at all times.  All our teams in India are working from home and we continue to provide them with all practical support, including partnering with service providers for virtual healthcare consultations and mental wellbeing support. It is heartening to see the strength and spirit of resilience of our people, as they come together to support each other through these difficult times,” said Kishore Jayaraman, President, Rolls-Royce India & South Asia.

If you can help in any way, make your voice heard. Please contact: Peter.Werner@cbi.org.uk

More information on this issue and on the CBI response: our previous CBI release: 'If you can help, make your voice heard - CBI President on India Crisis'


Original article link: https://www.cbi.org.uk/media-centre/articles/crisis-in-india-what-can-business-do-to-help/

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