BOSTON—A group of Boston-based Indian-American business leaders and philanthropists joined hands together at a lightning speed to help India during the current pandemic. They already wired $600,000 to India and a plane-loaded with supplies and oxygen concentrators is scheduled to depart for India on May 8.
In initiative was launched by Boston entrepreneurs Gitika Srivatsava and Naresh Ramarajan, who were quickly joined by philanthropists Desh and Jaishree Deshpande and Prashanth and Anuradha Palakurthi. Deshpandes provided a seed money of $250,000 and Palakurths pitched in $100,000. In addition, Palakurthis have committed an additional $150,000 to other charities who are helping India during the pandemic such as SEWA and Indian Muslim Relief and Charity.
“India is facing its worst crisis since independence,” said Mr. Palakurthi. “Despite overwhelming challenges, Anuradha and I are heartened by stories of exemplary courage, community’s-mindedness and commitment of Indian citizens to overcome. We are honored to do our part to the assist the efforts of millions of Indian frontline medical workers who we are confident will overcome.”
Mr. Deshpande said that Ms. Srivatsava and Mr. Ramarajan are two amazing entrepreneurs that Boston community is proud to have. Both are undergrads from Harvard. Later, Ms. Srivatsava also got her MBA from MIT at Sloan and Mr. Ramarajan got his MD from Stanford. They are founders of a company called Navya Network. They are connected very well with health care professionals in India and USA.
“When the recent COVID crisis hit INDIA, they immediately jumped into action. They knew that the best way to help immediately was to get people oxygen. They secured a donation of 75 concentrators from a Community Partners International, and solved the logistics of shipping them through Air India. On hearing this, Cornell/NY Presbyterian approached them about shipping a donation of 2,900 concentrators,” Mr. Deshpande said. “Naresh connected with Direct Relief, an experienced logistics provider, who then secured a charter plane from FedEx to carry the large load to India free of cost.”
The plane is now lined up for May 8th take off.
“Naresh and Gitika also reached out to resellers of the state of the art portable oxygen concentrators, INOGEN GEN 5,” said Mr. Deshpande. “The reseller agreed to set aside 500 units at 50% discount and sell the units for $1,500.”
Everything moved a lightning speed.
“This is when we got involved. I spoke to Gitika on Saturday morning. Jaishree, Serge Bhachu and I went to work. Within no time Bostonians came together and seeded the effort with $600,000,” Mr. Deshpande said. “We are very thankful to Prashant and Anuradha Palakurthi, Abha and Anil Singhal, Tuli family (Sushil, Jay and Bindi), Deepika and Amar Sawhney, and Dennis Hong. I am also proud that our sons and their wives joined the cause. As soon as I sent the email, generous people from Silicon Valley jumped in and took the total amount to over a million dollars. We are very thankful to Vinod and Neeru Khosla, Godhwani family (Jyothi, Anil and Gautam) and Hemant and Jessica Taneja from the Silicon Valley.
Mr. Khosla, Indian-American technology guru and entrepreneur, has pledged $10 million towards providing oxygen supplies to India amid the worsening second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country.
As soon as Boston-based Venkat Srinivasan heard about this initiative he put Serge, Gitika and Naresh in touch with the America India Foundation, or AIF, CEO Nishant Pandey. Mr. Pandey moved with lightning speed and wired $600,000.
“We are very thankful to America India Foundation. FEDEX is getting a large plane ready for us on May 8th. We are going to load it up with 3,400 oxygen concentrators and a few more million N-95 masks to balance the load and have it land in Mumbai by May 10th. TATA Memorial Center(TMC) will be the receiving organization that will clear the customs and start saving lives right away. TMC will use these units in their own hospitals as well as dispatch them to other hospitals. We are also very thankful to Government of India for charging no customs duty and making the whole process friction free.”
India, however, needs many more units and there are many more lives to be saved, said Mr. Deshpande.
“We are getting ready to line up the next plane to carry more concentrators. We now need to raise enough funds to fill it up. It costs $1,500 to buy a unit,” Mr. Deshpande said.
Mr. Deshpande urged everyone to donate funds to buy one or more units to save lives in India.
You can send the funds to:
Community Partners International (CPI)
Bank Name: Wells Fargo Bank, NA
Bank Address : 2144 Shattuck Avenue Berkeley, CA 94704
Account Name: Community Partners International
Account Number: 6455450715
ABA / Routing Number: 121000248
Address: 580 California Street, 16th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94104
Purpose: OXYGEN for India
Tax ID 94-3375666
CPI is a 501c3 organization and is not charging any overhead to help us out.