V.K. SANTOSH KUMAR
India's most prominent and influential figures from the entertainment and sports fields - including film stars Amitabh Bachchan, Karan Johar, Anil Kapoor and Rana Daggubati and cricketers Shikhar Dhawan and Rishabh Pant - helped raise more than US$1 million ($1.3 million) for the fight against Covid-19 in a virtual fund-raiser organised by The Indus Entrepreneurs Singapore (TiE) last Sunday.
They narrated inspiring personal stories and sent messages of hope and togetherness throughout the two-hour event, titled I Breathe For India and supported by India's largest donation platform GiveIndia and the non-profit Indian Institute of Technology Alumni Association Singapore, which culminated with spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar leading millions of viewers in a meditation exercise.
"Mission India's target was US$1 million in 14 days," said Mr Amit Gupta, president, TiE Singapore, which is the Singapore chapter of the Silicon Valley founded non-profit organisation TiE Global.
"We surpassed that through organic donations, I Breathe For India and matching donations from our sponsors.
"Due to the very encouraging response we got from the community, we have decided to extend the campaign till May 21. This will give more people the opportunity to participate and give back."
The donors include Indian-American billionaire businessman and venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, Mr Karan Singh Thakral, executive director of Singapore-based Thakral Group of companies, businessman Atul Shah, Deutsche Bank, Basil Partners, Livspace, Turtlemint, Leap Finance, Nityo Infotech and other individuals and organisations.
"Our motivation was to kick-start and mobilise a movement involving our corporate members and networks as well as members of the public to come together and donate generously for the urgent need of medical supplies and Covid-19 treatment in India," said Mr Gupta. "We developed the fund-raiser concept within 48 hours and rolled it out within a week.
"We found exceptional allies in Lara Dutta (Indian actress, entrepreneur and the winner of the Miss Universe 2000 pageant) and Shayamal Vallabhjee (South Africa-born sports scientist, psychologist, healer and motivational speaker) who agreed to host the event. They roped in some of the biggest and most inspiring icons from India.
"Our network then activated a flurry of corporate donors that supported the cause."
TiE Singapore will use the funds raised to address four major areas of Covid-19 relief efforts in India: lProvide oxygen concentrators, oxygen cylinders, ventilators and other medical supplies to critical areas. lArrange and coordinate transport for oxygen concentrators and critical medical equipment in several places. lWork with federal and state government institutions and NGOs to set up medical infrastructure. lSet up oxygen plants in hospitals and support other rehabilitation efforts.
"While it feels great to have raised more than our target, the hard work begins now," said Ms Sidhi Dhir, executive director, TiE Singapore. "We will work with our donation partners and their last-mile partners to handle the purchase, delivery and coordination work required to send medical equipment such as oxygen cylinders to hospitals and medical centres in India.
"Mission India has proven the potential of what community can achieve. However, the work is not done yet. Funds have to be converted into practical equipment in order for it to contribute towards saving lives."
Bollywood star Dutta said she was happy to participate in the I Breathe For India fund-raiser.
"I am blessed and fortunate to play my part in raising funds for India," she said.
"Together with my fellow colleagues from the film industry we will do whatever it takes to overcome this crisis."
"The Covid-19 crisis in India has left people literally gasping for air. People are dying outside hospitals due to a lack of beds and oxygen on a daily basis and these are under-reported figures. Children have lost their parents to Covid-19 and some families have lost their primary breadwinners. India is reeling under a medical crisis and requires our help more than ever.
"Every donation towards the I Breathe For India fund-raiser will be matched by our donors at TiE."
People can contribute to TiE Singapore's fund-raiser through Giving.SG at: https://www.giving.sg/campaigns/missionindia. All proceeds will be disbursed via the Singapore Red Cross.
Individuals and companies can also donate via the global crowdfunding platform Milaap at: https://milaap.org/MissionIndia.
All proceeds from the Milaap drive will be disbursed via TiE Singapore's partners Swasth, ACT Grants and Mission Oxygen.
Both platforms offer different kinds of payment options and there are no service fees.
The campaign closes on May 21.