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By Dr Samantha Batt-Rawden
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British businesses must step up to support India as Covid-19 cases soar

British businesses must step up to support India as Covid-19 cases soar
4 min read

The B7 Summit will be a crucial moment to show solidarity and strong support to our Indian friends in a moment of need and ensure a resilient global recovery from this devastating pandemic.

Just two months ago, the sad deaths in India were less than 100 per day in a country of 1.4 billion people. Two months later, the situation has deteriorated significantly, becoming awful and tragic.

From the 26th April, I have been working personally with my team at the CBI on an urgent basis, reaching out to our members (we represent 190,00 businesses, employing 7 million people - one-third of the private sector workforce in the UK) as well as our trade association members (almost 200 leading trade associations from the NFU to the Law Society).

At this crucial moment we are urging UK firms to donate critical resources and supplies where they can. This includes: ventilators and breathing apparatus, lateral flow tests, empty refillable oxygen cylinders with 10 litres and 45 litres LMO capacity, ISO containers to facilitate transport of liquid oxygen to deficient areas, oxygen concentrators, in situ oxygen manufacturing plants for hospitals, oxygen generator plants, bilevel positive airway pressure (BPAP) machines, PPE, warehousing, transport & logistics. There is also an urgent need for Remidisvir and Favipiravir to help treat those with the virus.

We have been working with the MOD and the NHS regarding the possibility of setting up nightingale / field hospitals at speed in India

The UK and India share a close bond based on our enduring ties and ongoing close cooperation. The global challenge of the pandemic must be tackled on a united front. If we are not able collectively to control the spread of the virus it will remain a huge risk for lives and economies around the world. The B7 Summit hosted by the CBI on 11th and 12th May will be a crucial moment to show solidarity and strong support to our Indian friends in a moment of need and ensure a resilient global recovery from this devastating pandemic.

In recent weeks the CBI has been rallying UK businesses to support Indian companies. I’m delighted to say that businesses including BOC Ltd, Gilead Sciences, Peak Scientific, Air Liquide, Penlon (are exploring various options to support this), PG Paper Company LTD , DHL, CEVA Logistics part of the CMA CGM Group, Wincanton, Heathrow Airport, Mott MacDonald, Accenture, KPMG, and trade associations including Association of British HealthTech Industries (ABHI), Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), British Compressed Gases Association (BCGA) are stepping up to the plate and supporting, just as they have done here in the UK throughout the crisis. Our goal is to help others do the same and ensure the overall response is amplified, relevant and focused in a way that helps India. 

In addition, we have been working with the MOD and the NHS regarding the possibility of setting up nightingale / field hospitals at speed in India. We are also working with the British Asian Trust to help raise funds for 200,000 oxygen concentrators to be distributed throughout India.

We are working very closely with the Indian High Commissioner, Gaitri Issar Kumar, and her team in London and the British High Commissioner, Alex Ellis, and his team in Delhi. Our CBI office in Delhi is involved throughout and we are in constant touch with the CII, our sister organisation in India.

The 1.5 million people of Indian origin, living in the UK, of which I am proud to be a member, are a living bridge between our two countries – the Indian community throughout the UK has immediately rallied round to help in any and every way, it has been inspirational.

I say to any business out there - If your business can help, make your voice heard.

 

Lord Bilimoria is a crossbench member of the House of Lords and vice-chair of the Indo-British APPG.

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