Google announces $18 million to aid India in COVID-19 crisis

Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai has announced ₹135 crore or $18 million funding support for India’s current pandemic battle, stressing that he was ‘devastated to see the worsening COVID crisis’ in the country.

"Right now, India is going through our most difficult moment in the pandemic thus far. Daily COVID-19 cases continue to set record highs, with hospitals filled to capacity and in need of urgent supplies to cope with the increasing number of patients,” Google’s India head India Sanjay Gupta said in a statement.

The ₹135 crore package includes a ₹20 crore grant to the non-government organisation (NGO) GiveIndia to provide cash assistance to families hit hardest by the crisis to help with their everyday expenses, and to UNICEF to help get urgent medical supplies, including oxygen and testing equipment, to where it’s needed most.

This tranche of support includes 900 Google employees’ voluntary donations amounting to about ₹3.7 crore, which has been given to organisations supporting high-risk and marginalized communities.

The largest chunk of Google’s funding support, however, comes in the way of advertising support for public health awareness initiatives, while support for public donations to several non-governmental organizations have been incorporated on Google Pay.

“Since last year, we’ve helped MyGov and the World Health Organization reach audiences with messages focused on how to stay safe and facts about vaccines. We’re increasing our support today with an additional ₹112 Crore ($15 million) in Ad Grants to local health authorities and non-profits for more language coverage options,” Mr Gupta said.

Stressing that the biggest way Google can help people is through its core information products like search engine and maps to enable COVID search features, including information on where to get testing or vaccines, the firm said it is working with the health ministry to support vaccine awareness initiatives.

“I am hopeful that the situation will turn around for our country soon, but as we have learned over the course of this pandemic, hope is not enough. At Google we’ll continue to work with local governments, partners and communities to give people the tools to stay healthy and safe. We’ll get through this tough time together,” Mr Gupta said.

Vinod Khosla offers to fund hospitals

On Saturday, another tech doyen of Indian origin, Sun Microsystems co-founder Vinod Khosla had offered to help fund hospitals in India that need funding to import bulk planeloads of oxygen or supplies into India to increase supply. He had asked public hospitals as well as NGOs to reach out to him for help.

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