Even as the number of coronavirus cases in India inches close to a 1,000 and the nationwide lockdown results in economic hardships for a large section of the population, especially the poor, India Inc. is stepping up its efforts to contribute resources in the country’s fight against the novel coronavirus.
In the largest financial contribution till now, the salt-to-software Tata group announced a commitment of ₹1,500 crore to combat the challenges posed by the global pandemic. Out of this, ₹500 crore will be given by Tata Trusts, a clutch of philanthropic bodies that own a majority stake in Tata Sons, the flagship holding firm of the Mumbai-headquartered business group.
In a statement issued on March 28, Tata Trusts said that it is pledging this money to buy personal protective equipment for medical personnel on the front line; respiratory systems for treating increasing cases; testing kits to increase per capita testing; setting up modular treatment facilities for infected patients; and knowledge management and training of health workers and the general public.
“In this exceptionally difficult period, I believe that urgent emergency resources need to be deployed to cope with the needs of fighting the Covid-19 crisis, which is one of the toughest challenges the human race will face,” Tata Trusts chairman Ratan Tata said in the statement.
On the same day, Tata Sons, the flagship holding firm of the group committed ₹1,000 crore to support the earlier pledge and initiative announced by Tata on behalf of the Tata Trusts. “Tata Sons announced an additional ₹1,000 crore support towards Covid-19 and related activities. We will work together with the Tata Trusts and our chairman emeritus, Mr. Tata, and would be fully supporting their initiatives, and work in a collaborative manner to bring the full expertise of the group,” Tata Sons chairman N. Chandrasekaran said in a statement.
Apart from supporting the Tata Trusts, the group was gearing up to make necessary ventilators available by manufacturing them in-house shortly, Chandrasekaran said.
Apart from this, other corporate houses and other bodies have also come to the fore to lend a helping hand to the country in this time of crisis. The automobiles-to-financial services Bajaj Group has also pledged ₹100 crore for the fight against Covid-19.
“In the ongoing fight against Covid-19, we all need to come forward in ways more than ever before, to ensure that all citizens of our country have access to healthcare and other necessities of life,” Bajaj Group chairman Rahul Bajaj said in a statement. The Bajaj Group is based in Pune, which is one of the worst-affected cities with a high number of Covid-19 cases, along with Mumbai. Maharashtra, the state in which these two cities lie, has emerged as the second-largest in terms of number of coronavirus cases recorded, after Kerala. The Bajaj Group will support the government in upgrading the key healthcare infrastructure in Pune, Bajaj said. In addition to this, it will also take care of the food and shelter needs of the most affected—daily wage earners, homeless and street children—in various parts of India; and provide rural care and livelihood aid.
The Mumbai-based JSW Group, led by billionaire Sajjan Jindal, has also committed ₹100 crore for this cause. Each employee of the group has committed a minimum of a single day’s salary for the purpose. Engineering conglomerate Larsen and Toubro (L&T) and ITC have also committed ₹150 crore each to fighting the pandemic.
Many companies are trying to help in non-monetary ways as well. Since the nationwide lockdown was announced on March 24, many migrant workers in cities like Delhi have been trying to get back to their native places in neighbouring states by walking a few hundred kilometres on foot. With all modes of interstate transport suspended and food and shelter proving to be a challenge in the cities where they work due to lack of wages, they are left with no option but to return to the refuge of their villages. Despite incurring heavy losses due to a complete shutdown in air traffic, airliner SpiceJet has offered to help transport stuck migrant workers from cities like Delhi and Mumbai to Patna, the capital of Bihar, the state from which many of these workers hail.
Apart from the business houses, other wealthy bodies like the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) are also doing their bit to the help the nation. Cricket isn’t just a sport, but more of a religion in India and the BCCI is the richest cricketing body in the world. Notwithstanding the uncertainty around the Indian Premier League’s 2020 edition, the potential cancellation of which will lead to losses for the BCCI and the franchise owners, the BCCI has announced a donation of ₹51 crore to the Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund (PM-CARES) to contribute towards strengthening the nation’s disaster management capacity and encourage research to combat Covid-19.
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