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Google, Microsoft pledge aid to India in fight against Covid2019

Sundar Pichai-led Google will contribute Rs 135 crore in funding.

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NEW DELHI: Google CEO Sundar Pichai and his Microsoft counterpart Satya Nadella have extended their support to India amid a record surge in Covid2019 cases.

Pichai tweeted, "Devastated to see the worsening Covid crisis in India. Google & Googlers are providing Rs 135 crore in funding to @GiveIndia, @UNICEF for medical supplies, orgs supporting high-risk communities, and grants to help spread critical information."

Taking to Twitter, Nadella said, "I am heartbroken by the current situation in India. I'm grateful the US government is mobilising to help. Microsoft will continue to use its voice, resources, and technology to aid relief efforts, and support the purchase of critical oxygen concentration devices."

Amidst the devastating second wave of the Covid pandemic, India reported 3.52 lakh fresh coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours. This is the highest single-day spike registered since the onset of the pandemic.

Pichai's tweet also had a link to a blog where Google detailed ways to help with their efforts to fight the worsening situation.

On the blog, Google India country head and vice president Sanjay Gupta detailed how the 135 crore grant from the search giant would work. “This includes two grants from Google.org, Google's philanthropic arm, totalling Rs 20 crore ($2.6 million). The first is to GiveIndia to provide cash assistance to families hit hardest by the crisis to help with their everyday expenses. The second will go to UNICEF to help get urgent medical supplies, including oxygen and testing equipment, to where it's needed most in India. It also includes donations from our ongoing employee giving campaign -- so far more than 900 Googlers have contributed Rs 3.7 crore ($500,000) for organisations supporting high-risk and marginalised communities."

Moreover, Gupta also informed about increased Ad Grant support for public health information campaigns.

“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 Rs 112 crore ($15 million) in Ad Grants to local health authorities and non-profits for more language coverage options,” he said.

Google is already helping India with its core information products like Search and Maps, YouTube and Ads. Covid features on Search are available in India, in English and eight Indian languages, that continue to improve localisation and highlight authoritative information.

This includes information on where to get testing and vaccines. Maps and Search surface thousands of vaccine sites. Google is also collaborating closely with the ministry of health & family welfare, and with organisations like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to support vaccine awareness initiatives, wrote Gupta.

On YouTube, Google is supporting the Indian government in their vaccine communication strategy. It ran a workshop for 200+ health officials to learn how they can use YouTube to reach audiences across Indian languages with vaccine information.

Indian conglomerates have also pitched in the efforts to increase production and supply of medical oxygen in the country for the treatment of Covid-positive people.

The Tata Group announced that it would be importing 24 cryogenic containers to transport liquid oxygen to help overcome its shortage. Reliance Group has also committed to increase supply of oxygen to states where Covid cases are rising; its philanthropic arm Reliance Foundation has scaled up its operations to provide 875 hospital beds to Coronavirus patients in Mumbai, which is one of the worst-affected urban centres in the country.

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