View from India: PM appeals to companies to help combat Covid-19

PM urges India Inc to open their vault and contribute towards the crisis, while auto-production units are exploring possibilities of making ventilators. These are some of the latest developments in India's response to Covid-19

The Tatas family has pledged to give Rs 1,500 crore to help combat coronavirus. “The Covid-19 crisis is one of the toughest challenges we will face as a race. At this moment, the need of the hour is greater than any other time,” tweeted Ratan Tata, chairman of Tata Trusts, along with a statement from the public charitable organisation.

Of the Rs 1,500 crore, Ratan Tata has said that Rs 500 crore will come from Tata Trusts, the philanthropic arm of the Tatas, while the remaining Rs 1,000 crore will come from Tata Sons, the holding firm of the Tata Group of companies. Based in India, the Tata Group is a large multinational conglomerate with many subsidiary and joint venture companies.

N Chandrasekaran, the chairman of Tata Sons, has indicated that the group is also bringing in necessary ventilators and preparing to manufacture them in the country.

Elsewhere, Covid-19 has forced automakers to close operations in their production units as uncertainty has loomed. The Ministry of Heavy Industries has appealed to the automakers to collaborate with ventilator manufacturers and use their production units to build these vital pieces of medical equipment. 

Besides the Tata Group, the Mahindra Group has reported that it will be manufacturing ventilators, while Maruti Suzuki has indicated to the press that it will join hands with AgVA Healthcare to produce 10,000 ventilators.

As the number of people testing positive for Covid-19 increases, India needs to be equipped with infrastructure to meet the medical requirements.

The Indian Railways has suspended operations in the 21-day lockdown period, but what’s noteworthy is that a sleeper coach has been converted into a prototype isolation unit for Covid-19 patients. It may seem like an experiment, but the prototype can be replicated if the number of Covid-19 patients surges. To meet the upcoming demand, every zonal railway will convert 10 coaches into isolation units. As per instructions from the Railway Board, production units are exploring possibilities of manufacturing hospital beds and ventilators.

A corpus has appealed to individuals and companies to contribute funds towards the coronavirus pandemic situation. Called 'Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund’ (PM CARES Fund), the Prime Minister Narendra Modi is chairing the Trust, which includes such members as ministers of home, finance and defence. Modi has appealed to India Inc to open their vault and has said that the corpus will accept micro donations, while pointing out that the fund will strengthen disaster management. Donations to this fund will be given income tax exemption under section 80(G) of the Income Tax Act.

"Increase social distancing, reduce emotional distancing," urged Modi in the latest episode of 'Mann ki Baat', his monthly radio address to the nation, on Sunday. He also saluted nurses, whom he describes as the embodiment of humanity: “The selfless spirit of service with which you perform your duty is beyond compare. It’s a coincidence that the world is celebrating year 2020 as the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife.” This goes back 200 years to 1820, the year associated with the birth of Florence Nightingale, who lent a new identity, a new paradigm, to the term ‘Service to humanity’ and to the field of nursing, taking it to new heights.

“Dedicated to the spirit of service of every nurse in the world, this year has come as a challenging examination for the entire nursing community ... I believe all of you will not only clear the exam successfully, you will also save many lives,” added the PM.

He also apologised to citizens for the ongoing hardships caused by the pandemic outbreak.

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