The Indian American Diaspora, the fastest growing ethnic group in the US, is going out to battle in its own resilient ways and has raised US$600,000 to meet the immediate crisis of hunger.
Call it a case of friends in need. The world’s largest democracy, India is standing along with the oldest democracy, the United States, to put up a joint fight against the corona pandemic and has pledged urgent medicine supplies to battle the worst-ever health crisis in recent memory.
Taking the spirit of unity in crisis and strong friendly ties currently bonding the two nations, the Indian American Diaspora, the fastest growing ethnic group in the US, is going out to battle in its own resilient ways and has raised US$600,000 to meet the immediate crisis of hunger.
ChaloGive for COVID-19 launched by Indiaspora, the largest convergence platform of the Indian American community in the US, has raised US$500,000 from its leadership network. Indiaspora also announced another US$100,000 as matching donation for its online giving campaign, which started on Friday. Money raised by Indiaspora will meet demand on the ground through beneficiary non-profits Feeding America in the US and Goonj in India, top members of Indiaspora told The Sunday Guardian on phone from Washington DC on Friday.
Speaking to this newspaper, Indiaspora founder, M.R. Rangaswami said: “The Indiaspora membership wanted to help quickly and at scale, both in the US and India, with a view to make an immediate impact. In Feeding America and Goonj, we found two organisations that fit the bill.”
The Indiaspora founder added that one of the most pressing and urgent challenges facing both the US and India right now is hunger, which is a deciding factor in Indiaspora’s new ChaloGive campaign.
High-profile names have endorsed the ongoing campaign, including former Pepsi Chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi, and former US Surgeon General, Dr Vivek Murthy, who serve on Feeding America’s Food Security Council and Board of Directors, respectively.
In the US, more than 37 million people face food insecurity, with food banks struggling to meet a massive increase in need. In India, nearly 140 million migrant workers have been displaced and remain in dire need of food and other essentials. “This pandemic has exposed an already existing hunger crisis,” said Indra Nooyi, former Pepsico CEO.
Nooyi said, “Together, as a society we must rise to this moment and address this great need knowing our investment in people, in families, and in communities will reap untold benefits not only now but into the future.”
Along with Nooyi, there has been an outpouring of support from the Indian Diaspora during this pandemic. Several community-based organisations are providing much-needed relief, with CEOs, entrepreneurs, professionals from different industries, and the entire community rallying to make contributions to various nonprofits.
Added Sanjeev Joshipura, Indiaspora Executive Director: “There has been a tremendous outpouring of support among the Indiaspora community! In just three days, we raised US$600,000 for our campaign, on top of all the other excellent COVID-relief causes that our members have contributed to.”
“It is essential that individuals—especially vulnerable populations who are most at risk—maintain access to food during this public health emergency,” said Dr Vivek Murthy. “I proudly support this campaign and trust its impact will go far to bring relief to those struggling with food insecurity.”
In India, philanthropists Rohini and Nandan Nilekani and Bollywood actress Nandita Das also have voiced their support for the campaign.
Back home, Goonj is looking to make the most of this association with Indiaspora to fight hunger on Indian streets. Already, there are many organisations supporting the cause of feeding the hungry in India through personal charities, individual donations and government grants. But this concerted effort by Indiaspora along with Goonj will address the issue of hunger in India in a sustained manner. Speaking on the partnership with Indiaspora, Anshu Gupta, Goonj founder said: “Despite our extensive experience of working in disasters, the scale and still unfolding nature of this long-tailed disaster calls for massive resource mobilisation or short-, mid- and long-term work…We are delighted to partner with Indiaspora on this campaign as an opportunity to engage the Indian-American community and our well-wishers from across the world in supporting their fellow citizens in this difficult hour.”
Praising Goonj, Rohini Nilekani said: “Goonj is just the kind of organisation we can rely on in this double crisis of health and livelihoods…It has decades of experience serving the most vulnerable while striving to preserve the dignity of every stakeholder, and it has time and time again demonstrated a scaled up, rapid response in the aftermath of disasters. We have been supporters of Goonj for many years. They care, and they deliver. Thank you all for your generosity and your support.” Feeding America, which has been providing emergency food assistance to people facing hunger through its nationwide network of 200 food banks in America for more than 40 years, is responding to the new hunger crisis in the US. Every dollar to Feeding America secures 10 meals through the food bank network.
The CEO of Feeding America too is all praise for the Indian Diaspora. “The nation and our food bank network are facing challenges unlike anything we’ve seen in our organisation’s history,” said Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, CEO of Feeding America, who added, “we are truly grateful to Indiaspora for its support of Feeding America through the ChaloGive for COVID-19 campaign. During this time of uncertainty, the generous donations derived from this effort will help bring much-needed food and hope to countless families facing hunger across the US.”
The top names in Indian Diaspora feel that the ChaloGive for COVID-19 provides an opportunity for the Indian American community to make a collective impact toward helping marginalised communities who have been disproportionately affected by the ongoing crisis. “This crisis has made it even harder for those who were already struggling to survive,” said Kris Gopalakrishnan, Chairman of Axilor Ventures and a founder of IT services company Infosys, who is also an Indiaspora Founders Circle member. “Given the increasingly global world we are living in, India and its Diaspora are in a unique and powerful position to help each other.”
The unprecedented situation due to Covid-19 has brought the fear of hunger to unimaginable levels. At least the United States would have never imagined such a situation even in its dreams. “While all eyes are on frontline hospitals, millions in America and across the globe suffer silently from a growing and equally alarming epidemic of food insecurity as the Covid-19 crisis threatens to push already struggling families deeper into poverty,” said Sejal Hathi, an Indiaspora Board member and physician at Massachusetts General Hospital. “Now more than ever is the time for communities like Indiaspora to come together and rise to this call to feed people in need. I’m so proud to witness this commitment.”