A friend in Malaysia—Dr Kamalanathan Sappani who’s also on our Global Advisory Board—called me one day to say that Indian-origin doctors in Malaysia are willing to do their best to help India during the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. He asked me who in India can receive consignments of oxygen cylinders and concentrators and will be able to reach them to the most vulnerable and needy. He also wished to know who can get the consignments cleared on arrival at Delhi airport. Our magazine spoke to some key people in the Indian Government, and one of the Ministries readily agreed to receive the consignment. Like Dr Sappani there are thousands of well-meaning overseas Indians who are willing to come to the country’s aid at this critical juncture. This sentiment is echoed by American Vice President Kamala Harris who in a recent address to the Indian diaspora in the USA said, “Generations of my family come from India. My mother was born and raised in India. And I have family members who live in India today. The welfare of India is critically important to us.”
In the absence of a Ministry for Overseas Indians many in the diaspora do not know whom to contact for sending consignments that go to the right places. The earlier Ministry had been a reassuring factor for the diaspora. It also used to have an institutional mechanism known as the India Development Foundation (IDF) for Overseas Indians for properly channelizing diaspora philanthropy into India, but the IDF-OI too was wound up several years ago.