Sundar Pichai, Satya Nadella rushing aid to covid-hit India

Sundar Pichai and Satya Nadella
Google CEO Sundar Pichai (left) and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella

With 352,991 new cases India sets global record for fifth straight day.

As India reported 352,991 new cases of coronavirus on Monday, the highest in a single day globally for fifth straight day, two Indian American CEOs pledged to rush critical aid to the land of their birth.

Google’s Sundar Pichai and Microsoft’s Satya Nadella pledged in statements Monday to help India tackle a critical shortage of medical oxygen, provide technical expertise and deploy corporate resources.

“I am heartbroken by the current situation in India. I’m grateful the US government is mobilizing to help.” Nadella tweeted.

“Microsoft will continue to use its voice, resources, and technology to aid relief efforts, and support the purchase of critical oxygen concentration devices,” he added.

Nadella was joined hours later by Pichai, who said in a Twitter post that he was “devastated to see the worsening Covid crisis,” and announced 1.35 billion rupees ($18 million) in aid from Google and its employees.

READ: United States offers to make vaccine ingredients available to India immediately (April 25, 2021)

“Devastated to see the worsening Covid crisis in India. Google & Googlers are providing Rs 135 Crore in funding to @GiveIndia, @UNICEF for medical supplies, orgs supporting high-risk communities, and grants to help spread critical information,” he tweeted.

“Supporting India during the current COVID crisis. We’re providing new funding and support to help people and communities in India hit hard by the country’s current Covid-19 crisis.”

Google said in a blog post that it would provide a grant to UNICEF for urgent medical supplies, including oxygen and testing equipment.

Give India, an online donation platform, will receive a grant for families hit by the crisis. The company is also contributing $15 million in free advertising for public health information campaigns.

Hailing from Hyderabad, Nadella, has worked at Microsoft since 1992 and became chief executive in 2014. Pichai was born in Tamil Nadu. He joined Google in 2004 and was named CEO of the firm in 2015, and became head of the parent company Alphabet in 2019.

“Right now India is going through our most difficult moment in the pandemic thus far,” Sanjay Gupta, Google’s head of India, wrote in the company’s blog post.

READ: How pressure mounted on Biden administration to help India during coronavirus surge (April 25, 2021)

Gupta said that the company was working to improve how people found information about “where to get testing and vaccines” across the company’s platforms, including its search engine, Google Maps and YouTube.

“We’re asking ourselves what more we can do as a company to ensure people get the information and support they need to keep their families and communities healthy and safe,” he added.

“Our Google community and their families are feeling the devastating impact, too.”

On Saturday, Indian American billionaire Vinod Khosla offered to fund Indian hospitals that need resources to import oxygen.

“I’m willing to fund hospitals in India that need funding to import bulk planeloads of oxygen or supplies into India to increase supply,” he said in a tweet.

READ: Vinod Khosla offers to help Indian hospitals with import of oxygen (April 24, 2021)

The executives’ commitments came as India’s total of covid cases climbed to over 17.3 million cases with 2,812 deaths taking the toll to more than 195,000 deaths, according to Indian health ministry figures.

Ten states—Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Delhi, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, and Madhya Pradesh—account for 74.5% of the total Covid-19 recoveries in India.

Everything is in short supply — intensive care unit beds, medicine, oxygen and ventilators. Bodies are piling up in morgues and crematoriums.

Several countries, including the US, Britain and Germany have pledged to send urgent medical aid to India.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd J Austin III on Sunday directed Pentagon to use its resources in order to provide material support to frontline Indian healthcare workers who are fighting against the second wave of Covid-19 pandemic.

READ: Covid tsunami hits India with record 332,000 daily cases (April 23, 2021)

The move came after President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris directed mobilization of American resources to assist India to tackle the unprecedented health crisis.

“I’m deeply concerned about the Covid-19 outbreak in India, and today, I directed the @DeptofDefense to use every resources at our disposal, within our authority, to support US interagency efforts to provide India’s frontline healthcare workers with the materials they need,” tweeted Austin.

In a statement, Austin said that men and women of the Department of Defense stand by their Indian partners in the hour of need and they are in this fight together.

“In the next few days, we will provide transportation and logistics assistance to deliver needed supplies to India, including oxygen-related equipment, rapid testing kits, and personal protective equipment,” he stated.

“We are currently assessing the equipment we can both procure and draw from our own inventory in the coming days and weeks. We will continue to work closely with other US agencies and Departments, as well as with industry, to support our Indian partners in their effort to combat this outbreak,” added Austin.

READ: Don’t let the ‘America First’ derail India-U.S. ties (April 24, 202)

In addition to the immediate aid, the US Development Finance Corporation will fund a substantial expansion of manufacturing capability for Indian vaccine maker Biological E Ltd, or BioE, enabling the company to produce at least 1 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines by the end of 2022.

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