In the Tense Atmosphere Around Covid-19, One Philanthropist Businessman is a Ray of Hope: Ratan Tata


In the Tense Atmosphere Around Covid-19, One Philanthropist Businessman is a Ray of Hope: Ratan Tata

Illustration: Robin Chakraborty

As we prepare to enter the second week of the 21-day lockdown, the collective mood continues to be grim. With more cases reported from different parts of the country every few hours, and panic over the sudden nation-wide shutdown, many have expressed fears that our country may soon struggle to deal with the scale of the coronavirus pandemic.

Within the tense atmosphere, it took just one philanthropist businessman to shine a ray of hope onto our timelines. Ratan Tata, the 82-year-old Chairman Emeritus of the Tata Group, took to social media platforms this week to announce that the Tata Trust would donate a staggering Rs 500 crore to protect medical personnel, treat patients and increase testing in the country.

Following Ratan Tata’s announcement, N Chandrasekharan, chairman of Tata Sons announced an additional Rs 1,000 crore to tackle the pandemic — making it the biggest combined contribution by any Indian by far.

Calling Covid-19 one of the toughest challenges that the human race will face, the octogenarian Ratan Tata also announced that Tata Trusts, Tata Sons and the Tata group companies would be joined by local and global partners and the government to fight this crisis on a “united public health collaboration platform”.

The Taj Group of Hotels, which was built by Tata’s great-grandfather, Jamsetji, meanwhile, has displayed similar benevolence, offering free meals to patients, doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers at Mumbai’s government hospitals.

The Tata group has also paid all temporary workers and daily wage earners, for March and April, across all offices and production sites in India, and has said it would pay workers who failed to report due to precautionary measures, as well. This has earned the group some high praise online.

Meanwhile, other corporations too have stepped in to feed the kitty, Alcohol company Diageo India has pledged to produce 3,00,000 litres of hand sanitiser and donate 1,50,000 masks to five state public departments to counter the shortage, while the chairman of the Vedanta Group Anil Agarwal has also pledged Rs 100 crore.

Big names like Mukesh Ambani and Anand Mahindra have also made their own contributions — from producing face masks to setting up isolation centres for coronavirus-infected patients. As have newer companies, like PayTM, which has committed Rs 5 crore to all teams working on Covid-19 solutions.

The company’s founder, Vijay Shekhar, has also reportedly let go of two month’s salary so that the employees would continue to get their own.

So even as all corporates dig deep in their pockets, and celebrities and cricketers continue to make contributions of their own, all eyes will be firmly locked on how this money’s spent over the next two weeks. Let’s hope it goes to the right place.