Yorkshire business leader issues urgent appeal to help with India's virus battle

A regional business organisation championing stronger ties to Asia has issued a rallying cry for firms to help India in its time of need as the country battles a deadly second wave of Covid-19.

The Yorkshire Asian Business Association (YABA) has been signposting organisations that can provide oxygen cylinders and concentrators as well as vital medicine to the proper channels after being contacted by the Indian High Commission.

Sharon Jandu, director at YABA, told The Yorkshire Post: “They didn’t really want donations, what they wanted was equipment and medicines.

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“They were quite specific in that they needed the oxygen cylinders and oxygen concentrators and medicines which would help against Covid.”

Sharon Jandu

Ms Jandu has family links to the country and recently lost an aunt to Covid-19 in Delhi, which has been one of the hardest hit cities in the country.

Her brother-in-law is still stuck there trying desperately to return to his family in Leeds.

She said: “It’s as if they can smell death in the air. They’re in the heart of Delhi. Cremations are constant. When they look out of the window, it’s eerie. It’s just awful.”

While the situation in India is bleak at the moment, Ms Jandu believes that the country will emerge from this second wave much stronger.

India is in need of oxygen to help Covid patients.

YABA has spent several years cultivating strong business relationships between Yorkshire and India – leveraging the understanding of the diaspora here in the UK to help overcome barriers.

Ms Jandu said: “Once India does get through this, and it will get through this, it probably will be one of the safest places to go because it will be ready. It will be open for business.

“Let’s rally around and support when things are not going well and when things are going well, then get behind that too.”

The ferocity with which the second wave has engulfed India has “shocked” the Indian diaspora in the UK, Ms Jandu says. She said: “Prior to all this happening, everybody thought India had it all under control.

“After the first lockdown, it felt as if India really was in control. India is the largest manufacturer of the vaccine. It just felt as if it was in a really strong place.

“I didn’t really understand why they are where they are.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a new £1bn trade deal between Britain and India on May 4.

However, humanitarian efforts at this time of crisis are likely to further strengthen ties between the two countries.

“When you’re there in a country’s time of need, nobody forgets,” Ms Jandu says. “That’s why it will make that special relationship even more special.”

She added that it’s in “everybody’s interest” to help India as it opens up to the world again.

YABA is signposting people to Khalsa Aid, a UK-based international NGO that provides humanitarian aid. It is also directing people wanting to donate money to the Indian Red Cross.

Individuals and organisations that are able to help can contact Ms Jandu at [email protected]

Ms Jandu said: “What we have done is made people aware of the urgency of it.”

She added: “Sometimes with this kind of thing when you’re watching those horrible pictures, you don’t know who to go to. We had a lot of our friends come up to us and they said ‘what can we do to help’?”

A lot of offers of support have already come from non-Asian friends and associates of YABA, Ms Jandu said.

YABA is focusing on acting as a facilitator.