US has stepped up for India in an unprecedented way


Somewhere around last month, the Biden administration was blamed for keeping quiet about the raging second wave in India. However, after many top individuals raising their voice and after a talk with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the US responded with unprecedented financial assistance worth nearly USD half a billion.

The Biden administration has kept up with their promise of being the friend in need at difficult times. It wasn’t just the US government that had a hand in extending support to India, but also the corporate sector which created a global task force, as well as individual Americans and Indian-Americans who had opened their coffers for India.

Describing it as a “Berlin Life Moment”, Mukesh Aghi of US India Strategic and Partnership Forum (USISPF), told reports 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 mobilization 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 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 reports.

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.

“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.