India's COVID-19 tragedy: What it feels like for Indian immigrants watching from afar, and how you can help

·Associate Editor
·5 min read

India is currently grappling with a deadly surge of COVID-19 cases. The country has been consistently reporting upwards of 300,000 new positive cases every single day. 

And it recently recorded a whopping 400,000 one-day increase in new infections- a global high.

Many experts and journalists on the ground are suggesting that the actual numbers may be even higher.

Hospitals are overwhelmed, patients don’t have access to adequate oxygen and many are dying, not necessarily from COVID, but from lack of treatment.

Many healthcare facilities have been forced to turn patients away because of the lack of supplies.

Crematoriums and graveyards are overwhelmed and Indians are being forced to build makeshift funeral pyres to pay their final respects to their loved ones.

A man runs past the burning funeral pyres of those who died from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), during a mass cremation, at a crematorium in New Delhi, India April 26, 2021. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A man runs past the burning funeral pyres of those who died from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), during a mass cremation, at a crematorium in New Delhi, India April 26, 2021. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

With over 200,000 deaths reported, the situation is dire. 

People are calling it a ‘COVID tsunami.’

For many Indian immigrants with family back home, watching the tragedy unfold has been a literal nightmare.

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The Indian diaspora, at 18 million people, is the largest in the world. Many are living in countries where the pandemic is under control, vaccines are being distributed fairly and the governments have been able to provide financial and medical support for those affected by COVID.

There’s a pervading sense of grief, guilt and helplessness across those watching the homeland being battered by the virus.

But Indians living through the nightmare say there are ways in which the diaspora and the global community as a whole can help India right now.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

Amplify

One way is by creating awareness. Indians have turned to social media to ask for oxygen, hospital beds and medicines.

And other Indians have responded by puttingtogether toolkits, resources and linksto relevant information.

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Amplifying messages from both sides could enable those in need to get access to the resources they require.

Get political

The second way is by reaching out to political representatives in your countries and asking for medical aid to be sent to India. 

You can use this to contact a Member of Parliament in Canada and request them to authorize a petition to send aid to India.

India’s one ray of hope is domestic vaccine manufacturing. India has produced more vaccines than any other country in the world. But the production hit a snag after the U.S. halted access to key supplies.

But the United States, after a significant amount of pressure from the Indian-American community, has now agreed to send over the vaccine supplies.

Canada recently agreed to send financial aid to India’s Red Cross and the U.K. is sending over oxygen, ventilators and medicines.

Donate

Support India by donating money to verified COVID campaigns.

Many activists and foundations in India are working around the clock trying to provide oxygen and medicines to those affected by COVID and food and roof for those who have lost their jobs and are unable to earn. They need financial support to keep going.

An important point to note is the conversion rate for Indian currency. Just $1 US or Canadian is equivalent to over 50 Indian rupees. What may not seem like a large amount in dollars and pounds can actually be life-changing for somebody in India.

Support

Be sure to provide emotional support to those living in India who are affected by the crisis. You can do this by donating, and making space for people living as part of the Indian diaspora around the world, who may have relatives back home.

This is a global pandemic, if India does not get support now, it will spill over into other parts of the world. Canada and the U.S. have already started reporting cases of the double mutant variant that was first found in India.

A global pandemic requires a global response.