Indian diaspora in UK helps homeland amid healthcare collapse

Indians in UK lend a helping hand as India gasps for breath


April 30, 2021

/ By / New Delhi

Indian diaspora in UK helps homeland amid healthcare collapse

photographs of helpless citizens begging for oxygen for their relatives who are struggling to breathe amidst Covid-19 surge has shocked & moved Indian diaspora across the world (MIG Photo/Aman Kanojiya)

Despite travel ban and lockdown amid a raging pandemic, the Indian diaspora in the United Kingdom is making efforts to provide financial and healthcare support from far.

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While the eye-witnesses of the total collapse of the healthcare system in India are getting used to the unfortunate reality, photographs of helpless citizens begging for oxygen for their relatives who are struggling to breathe amidst the Covid-19 surge has shocked and moved the Indian diaspora across the world.

At a time when most nations have closed their doors for Indian visitors amid scare, the global Indian diaspora has been making tremendous efforts to help their motherland in whichever way possible. “How could we not be bothered? It is our motherland, they are our families. I have not been able to visit my ailing grandmother but have decided to help others like her,” says Shankar Badale who is pursuing business and management research masters at the University of Stirling in Scotland currently.

Badale, with a group of his friends, is working with the British Asian Trust, an organisation based in London, which is collecting donations in order to send oxygen supplies to India.

British Asian Trust is an organisation based in London which is collecting donations in order to send oxygen supplies to India

“There isn’t a member of the Indian diaspora here who has not been touched by the events going on in India. I have a lot of family members in India. We are hearing terrible stories. It is really astonishing how the challenge has exponentially increased over the last month,” adds Badale.

The trust, run by British Asians to support development projects, is focusing on ‘the single most important danger’ to people in India currently – lack of oxygen.

In a Hindu temple in Wembley, northwest London, the small congregation chants a special prayer for people thousands of miles away. “The Hanuman Chalisa is a devotional hymn believed to have immense power for helping those in need. My family is working to send oxygen cylinders to India and we are also praying for our ancestral land’s safety day and night,” says 55-year-old Anita Devakarni, a housewife who has been living in London for almost three decades now.

Badle and Devakurni are but only two of the members of the Indian Diaspora in the United Kingdom which is one of the largest ethnic minority communities in the country. The 2011 census recorded the Indian diaspora in the UK to be 1.5 million strong, equating to almost 1.8 pc of the total population of UK.

Many members of the British Indian community are raising funds for oxygen equipment. Shreya Jain, a friend of Badale and who is also working with the same organisation for raising funds, says that the appeal has already raised hundreds of thousands of pounds to buy oxygen concentrators.

She goes on to say that while the trust is doing exceptional work, it is not alone. Another independent GoFundMe campaign, run by the Indian community in London, manages to collect over USD 2 million in a single day.

“It just feels so real – not just to British Indians, but to British citizens too. Some of GoFundMe campaign’s biggest donations have been from British citizens who have been watching the news about India,” she explains.

Others in the UK’s extensive Indian medical community have been finding other ways to help.

In the evenings and on weekends, in between working as a consultant cardiologist in Bristol, Dr Amardeep Dastidar has been offering telemedicine and remote consultations to people in India. He says he has received an overwhelming response from thousands of miles away as Indians battle with the biggest wave of Covid-19.

“I was personally hit, my brother was infected, had to be hospitalised, was in ICU for seven days. It was a challenging time. Fortunately, he survived but my whole family was in extreme distress while he was admitted. That is why I decided to provide a free consultation to people who cannot afford to go to the hospital because of Covid-19 scare or financial constraints,” explains Dr Dastidar.

“Everyone is coming to the tipping point. I think everyone needs a bit of support,” Dr Dastidar says.



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