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Indian diaspora steps up as force for good during Covid-19 pandemic

Indian diaspora steps up as force for good during Covid-19 pandemic

Like past years, this year’s Indiaspora philanthropy summit held in early October brought together philanthropists, policy experts, NGO leaders, students, and prominent members of the Indian diaspora on thought-provoking conversations and debates on various aspects of philanthropy and diaspora giving. Eminent philanthropists and Indiaspora members Vidya Shah and Romesh Wadhwani were keynote speakers at this year’s event.

Three broad themes

The summit was held virtually this year and organised in two sessions to accommodate Indian and US topics, audiences, and time zones. Three broad themes emerged from the discussions and interactions at the summit. Each of these themes highlights the incredible opportunity that the pandemic presents for all stakeholders for new, bold, and innovative collaborations:

* Whether it is the dire migrant worker situation in India or the equity gap that exists in the US that disproportionately impacts marginalised communities, the Covid-19 pandemic has brought to the forefront issues and challenges that have existed for many years. We need to acknowledge these challenges and collectively work towards addressing them.

* The panellists and speakers underscored the importance of quickly realigning to changing priorities. Whether you are a funder, philanthropist or non-profit, the faster you realign and adjust, the better your outcomes will be.

* While we all acknowledge that we have a long way to go to reverse the setback that the development sector has suffered in the past eight-nine months, we must pause and celebrate the incredible support we have seen from the community so far, where diaspora has really come together with a lot of energy and intent.

A force for good

One thing that was increasingly clear from the summit was the fact that we have come to witness a remarkable outpouring of support by the global Indian diaspora. One can argue that perhaps never before has there been such a coming together of this community.

When the pandemic hit at the beginning of the year, the need and urgency of support needed presented a tremendous challenge for the development sector, but also a huge opportunity to those who had the means to give back; and so it is great to see the way in which the diaspora has responded. ChaloGive, Indiaspora’s annual online giving campaign, raised over $1 million in just nine days from the diaspora in the US and enabled over eight million meals in the US and India earlier this year.

This year’s ChaloGive campaign focused on addressing food insecurity and supporting the most vulnerable communities in the US and India hit by the pandemic. Individuals, foundations, high net worth donors, and corporates have all stepped up. GiveIndia’s India Covid Response Fund (ICRF) has collected over 230+ crores so far from corporate CSRs, foundations, philanthropists and individuals.

Diaspora giving trends

If there was ever an opportunity for the Indian diaspora to bridge the giving gap and give to its full potential, it is now. The initial response from the diaspora has been very encouraging as the community has responded very quickly and generously. There is a lot of hope and optimism that in the coming weeks and months, we will not slow down and in fact build on this momentum.

The road ahead

Whether it is giving to India, or giving to the local community in the US; whether it is having an enhanced focus on impact investing and socially responsible investing, or building philanthropic partnerships with key stakeholders; the Indiaspora Philanthropy Summit has clearly shown that the diaspora has stepped up as a force for good. With no clear end in sight yet, we know that the impact of this pandemic is going to be felt for several months in personal and professional lives and civil society in general, but it is very heartening to see that we are all in this together.

“If you were ever waiting for a moment for the impact of your giving to be high, this is the moment… this is the moment for all of us to pitch in,” shared Ankur Vora, Chief Strategy Officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

This is truly philanthropy’s watershed moment and an opportunity for all of us to play a transformative role.

by Ashish Shah

Ashish Shah is the Community Relations Director of Indiaspora – a non-profit organisation founded by M.R. Rangaswami in 2012 with the aim of transforming the success of the Indian diaspora into meaningful impact worldwide.

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