Across the world, we have seen the harrowing images of Covid-19’s impact in India. The entire country is reeling under the devastating impact of the pandemic. Our thoughts are with the millions who are impacted including their relatives living abroad. Microsoft has had a presence in India for nearly three decades and our teams in the country play an important role for the company that stretches well beyond India’s borders. We have several thousand employees across 11 locations in India, and many more employees in other countries with families in India.
As we witness the impact on friends, co-workers and the broader community, it is clear we can and must help. We are focused on using our technology, skills, resources and voice to assist in the global response.
We are working to ensure we are doing everything we can to take care of our employees in India and stepping up to help address urgent needs in the broader community. This includes daily crisis management team meetings in Redmond and India with teams across the company. These calls allow us to quickly identify areas where Microsoft can help and ensure we can move quickly to respond.
Over the past month, Microsoft Philanthropies has been in close contact with nonprofit partners and government organizations leading the relief efforts in India to understand how we can best assist in the response. We believe a coordinated approach is the best way to help and we are working in partnership with humanitarian organizations and others in the private sector.
Here are some examples of steps we are taking.
- Becoming a founding member of Global Task Force on Pandemic Response: Today, along with a number of other companies we’re helping the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable launch the Global Task Force on Pandemic Response. This is a public-private partnership to provide India with critical medical supplies, oxygen and other life-saving assistance. This effort will focus first on India and will then be a vehicle to support other countries devastated by Covid-19. Microsoft was one of the first partners to commit to this effort, and Microsoft President Brad Smith is serving on the Steering Committee for the group. We are also working to help lead the Task Force’s CHRO India Action group, sharing ideas and best practices for getting assistance to India-based employees. These cross-industry, public-private partnerships are an essential part of an effective response, and we’re working to play our part.
- Addressing severe shortage of oxygen: We’ve already taken two steps to help address the severe shortage of oxygen for patients in India. As part of the Global Task Force on Pandemic Response, through a significant financial donation from Microsoft Philanthropies, we have joined with other companies to purchase 1,000 much-needed ventilators for hospitals in India. Second, as part of the Task Force, we’re working with the U.S.-India Strategic Partnership Forum and other companies to provide 25,000 oxygen concentration devices to health care facilities in India.
- Supporting nonprofits in India: We have harnessed the generosity of our employees in the U.S. and around the world through Microsoft’s employee giving program. Over the last week, this effort has already raised over $3 million (including Microsoft’s matched contribution) for organizations working on the ground in India, including Oxfam India and UNICEF.
- Providing critical technology and technical support: In addition to essential supplies, we know technology plays a key role in an effective response to the pandemic. As we saw in other countries in 2020, there is a strong need for technology tools that enable remote work, collaboration and communication across government and organizations working to respond to the pandemic. We’re ensuring every commercial and government organization in India has free access to the full capabilities of Microsoft Teams as they respond to changing conditions on the ground. We have also activated the Microsoft Disaster Response Team to provide technology support to efforts combating the outbreak in India, who are in frequent touch with both government agencies and first responders in the country to see how we can help.
- Continuing to supply medical assistance: This aid builds on Microsoft Philanthropies’ work over the last year partnering with India’s first responder nonprofits and government organizations to provide humanitarian aid, personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect frontline health workers, high-performance testing equipment including a mobile testing bus, and research support. We are building on this work to help mitigate food insecurity caused by sudden disruption of livelihoods and are continuing to provide medical assistance and PPE.
With escalating infections, hospitalizations and deaths being reported in several other countries, the crisis is reaching new and critical highs. Microsoft is engaged with other governments and humanitarian organizations to offer our support and we are ready to do more.
Main photograph: FedEx