Indian Americans in US Congress, tech organise Covid-19 aid to India

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WASHINGTON (REUTERS) – Some US lawmakers and wealthy technology executives have joined forces to boost aid to India as it grapples with a severe spike in coronavirus infections, with a focus on ensuring aid is equally distributed across the country, a Congress member said.

Us Representative Ro Khanna, Democratic vice-chair of the Congressional Caucus on India, told Reuters that Indian-American billionaire and Sun Microsystems co-founder Vinod Khosla, and other Indian-American tech executives at Google, IBM and Microsoft are working closely with the bipartisan Congressional Caucus on India.

The group is trying to match Indian hospitals and other facilities with supplies of oxygen and other urgently needed medical equipment, and pushing the White House to do more for India, the world’s largest democracy, as a surge in infections overwhelms hospitals.

On Twitter, Khosla offered to fund the bulk import of oxygen and other supplies to India. Khanna said Khosla has offered to underwrite the initiative.

Khosla declined a request for an interview.

Google said on Monday (April 26) it was donating another US$18 million (S$23.86 million) in India for victims and medical supplies, and confirmed chief executive Sundar Pichai was personally donating US$700,000 to Unicef’s India response. IBM did not immediately return calls requesting comment.

Indian immigrants and their offspring, some with deep pockets, are a powerful political force in the United States, and dozens of Indian Americans have roles in the Biden administration. Demographers estimate close to 4 million people of Indian descent in the United States.

The United States has faced criticism in India where local vaccine makers struggled to buy raw materials from US suppliers.

Administration officials insist there is no export ban in place, although the US Defence Production Act allows the government to give preference to US manufacturers.

India on Monday ordered its armed forces to help tackle infections as Britain, Germany and the United States pledged to send in urgent medical aid. The World Health Organisation chief called the situation “beyond heartbreaking.

The Indian-American caucus is meeting with the Indian ambassador this week to see what