Google, Microsoft announce funding to aid India in COVID-19 crisis

Updated - April 26, 2021 12:42 pm IST

Published - April 26, 2021 11:14 am IST - NEW DELHI

FILE PHOTO: The Google logo is displayed outside the company offices in New York, U.S., June 4, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

FILE PHOTO: The Google logo is displayed outside the company offices in New York, U.S., June 4, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai has announced Rs. 135 crore funding support for India’s current pandemic battle, stating he was ‘devastated to see the worsening COVID crisis’ in the country, while Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has also extended help.  

Promising to support India in the crisis using 'its voice, resources and technology to aid relief efforts', Mr Nadella thanked the US government for agreeing to help. The statements from two big tech CEOs of Indian-origin, follow Sun Microsystems’ co-founder Vinod Khosla on Saturday promising to help with plane loads of oxygen, and e-commerce major Amazon which is donating oxygen concentrators and other equipment to several hospitals.  

"I am heartbroken by the current situation in India. I’m grateful the U.S. government is mobilizing to help. Microsoft will continue to use its voice, resources, and technology to aid relief efforts, and support the purchase of critical oxygen concentration devices," Mr Nadella said in a tweet this morning.  

"Right now, India is going through our most difficult moment in the pandemic thus far. Daily COVID-19 cases continue to set record highs, with hospitals filled to capacity and in need of urgent supplies to cope with the increasing number of patients,” Google’s India head India Sanjay Gupta said in a statement. 

E-commerce giant Amazon too is working with industry partners and NGOs, including ACT Grants, Temasek Foundation, Pune Platform for COVID-19 Response (PPCR), to urgently airlift over 8,000 oxygen concentrators and 500 BiPAP machines from Singapore, to be brought to India. The medical equipment will be donated to hospitals and public institutions to augment their capacity to help Covid-19 infected patients across multiple cities, it said. 

Amazon India is also procuring over 1,500 oxygen concentrators and other critical medical equipment that will be donated to hospitals and medical facilities in partnership with multiple non-profits including Swasth, Concern India and impact organizations like ACT Grants and Sattva Consulting. A majority of these shipments are expected to land in India by April 30.  

“COVID-19 has severely impacted India in unimaginable ways. We stand firmly with the country, deploying our global logistics network to urgently airlift the needed oxygen concentrators to support the nation’s immediate need. We continue to explore other meaningful ways to help in saving lives and are committed to support the nation in this time of crisis,” said Amit Agarwal, Global SVP and country head, Amazon India.   

Google’s Rs 135 crore package includes a Rs 20 crore grant to the non-government organisation (NGO) GiveIndia to provide cash assistance to families hit hardest by the crisis to help with their everyday expenses, and to UNICEF to help get urgent medical supplies, including oxygen and testing equipment, to where it’s needed most.  

This tranche of support includes 900 Google employees’ voluntary donations amounting to about Rs 3.7 crore, which has been given to organisations supporting high-risk and marginalized communities. 

The largest chunk of Google’s funding support, however, comes in the way of advertising support for public health awareness initiatives, while support for public donations to several nongovernmental organizations have been incorporated on Google Pay. 

“Since last year, we’ve helped MyGov and the World Health Organization reach audiences with messages focused on how to stay safe and facts about vaccines. We’re increasing our support today with an additional 112 Crore INR ($15 million) in Ad Grants to local health authorities and non-profits for more language coverage options,” Mr Gupta said.  

Stressing that the biggest way Google can help people is through its core information products like search engine and maps to enable COVID search features, including information on where to get testing or vaccines, the firm said it is working with the health ministry to support vaccine awareness initiatives.  

“I am hopeful that the situation will turn around for our country soon, but as we have learned over the course of this pandemic, hope is not enough. At Google we’ll continue to work with local governments, partners and communities to give people the tools to stay healthy and safe. We’ll get through this tough time together,” Mr Gupta said.  

On Saturday, Mr Khosla had offered to help fund hospitals in India that need funding to import bulk planeloads of oxygen or supplies into India to increase supply. He had asked public hospitals as well as NGOs to reach out to him for help. 

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