AIF Raises Over $2 Million at the NDTV Telethon as 300 Million People Watch

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Raj Sharma

BOSTON–The American India Foundation (AIF), in partnership with New Delhi Television Limited (NDTV) held a live telethon fundraiser this past Sunday, raising awareness and more than $2 million Dollars or Rs 15.2 Crore in funds to provide effective and holistic rehabilitation of migrant communities in India through health, education and livelihood support.

“The NDTV/AIF telethon to aid migrant workers was a monumental success for AIF. We raised over $2 million dollars in two hours,” Raj Sharma, a board member of AIF and Managing Director of Wealth Management and Head, The Sharma Group, told INDIA New England News. “In addition, the event provided us national exposure in India and strengthened the bonds between India and the US.”

Mr. Sharma said that AIF’s New England team led by Nirmala Garimella and Suchitra Krishna participated actively in the planning and execution of the event.

“Our entire New England leadership and donors were energized by this awesome media exposure. We all felt a visceral connection to the suffering of migrant workers in India as a result of this pandemic,” said Mr. Sharma. “The outpouring of support from viewers around the world was touching and powerful, and demonstrated the power of collective philanthropy. This campaign is not over yet- it goes on for two more weeks and we hope to increase our fundraising tally. NDTV plans to run two additional 30-minute segments to keep the momentum going.”

The #RebuildingLives telethon watched live by 300 million viewers on primetime television and digital platforms worldwide, featured interviews and commentaries by key figures in the fight against COVID-19, including award-winning Indian film actress, Taapsee Pannu, Melissa Fleming, Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications, United Nations, Eric Falt, Director and UNESCO Representative to Bhutan, India, Maldives & Sri Lanka, Junaid Ahmad, Country Director-India, World Bank, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Chairperson, Biocon Limited and the key Ministers of the Odisha, UP and Karnataka state governments.

Nishant Pandey

“AIF is grateful for the overwhelming support the campaign has got both in the US and in India. Millions of migrant women, children and youth have been severely hit by the COVID-19 induced humanitarian crisis and we have to invest in their present today to secure their future tomorrow,” said Nishant Pandey, CEO of American India Foundation. “We are inspired by the strength and resilience migrant families have shown. Imagine what they can achieve if we invest in their health, education and livelihoods now”, he added. More than 40 million migrant daily-waged workers have lost their jobs during the COVID-19 induced lockdown in India and need urgent help to rebuild their lives.

Among others, the global two-hour event featured a story on 15-year old Doctaren Khadia from Magurpani in Odisha and her journey to becoming the head of the household when the COVID-19 lockdown was first announced in India. Doctaren’s parents are seasonal migrants and work in brick kilns located in a different state. Inspired by such stories, AIF Board members, Lata Krishnan, Harit Talwar and Venkat Srinivasan have committed $150,000 in matching funds, to double the impact of every dollar or rupee donated.

Recognizing contributions made by prominent donors, the telethon featured interviews with Vivek & Vandana Sharma, Pravin Goel, BlackRock’s Managing Director & Country Head, Manu Shah, CEO of MS International, Gary Norcross, Chairman, President & CEO of (FIS),  Anand Ramamoorthy, Managing Director, Micron India and Manoj Balachandran, Head – CSR, IBM India & South Asia.

The telethon was part of a 21-day #RebuildingLives campaign by AIF and NDTV. The migrant workers, many of whom have now returned home to their villages, face even bigger challenges in the days ahead as they face the risk of hunger, indebtedness and prolonged unemployment.  Attention is required towards a sustainable and resilient rebuilding of the lives of migrant workers and their families through a multi-pronged response, addressing health, education and livelihoods needs – both in the source and destination areas of migration.

The comprehensive and holistic COVID-19 response framework put forth by AIF consists of continuity, retention, remediation and online learning for children, supporting community health workers with knowledge and protection and livelihood support for youth who have lost their jobs. AIF seeks the support of its donors and partners to augment its resources for the urgent implementation of this COVID-19 Response Strategy.

For more information or to donate, visit the NDTV #RebuildingLives microsite or donate through the American India Foundation website

The American India Foundation is committed to improving the lives of India’s underprivileged, with a special focus on women, children, and youth. AIF does this through high impact interventions in education, health, and livelihoods, because poverty is multidimensional. AIF’s unique value proposition is its broad engagement between communities, civil society, and expertise, thereby building a lasting bridge between the United States and India. With offices in New York and California, twelve chapters across the U.S., and India operations headquartered in Delhi NCR, AIF has impacted 6.7 million lives across 26 states of India. Learn more at www.AIF.org

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