This Too Shall Pass

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As the country is going through the fourth phase of a nationwide lockdown, many destitute people have been struggling to make ends meet. Jobs at all levels are lost, livelihoods wiped off, migrants are fleeing back to their villages. Yet, work to save and stop the spread of the virus is going on a war footing. Groups and organisations are committing to support in as many ways as they can to cushion the impact of the pandemic. 

Landmark Group, The Jagtiani Foundation, and The LIFE Foundation

To help meet the critical needs of those severely impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Landmark Group – the parent company of retail brands Lifestyle, Max, Home Centre, Easy Buy & SPAR, along with The Jagtiani Foundation – the private philanthropy arm of the Jagtiani Family, and The LIFE Foundation – a registered trust founded in 2000 by Micky Jagtiani that supports the public education system, have formed a united front to help with the relief efforts in Mumbai and adjoining areas.

Led by the values instilled by the family and the Group’s CSR mission which focuses on the health and wellbeing of local communities, a sum of over Rs 30 Crores has been committed to supporting and empowering those affected by the pandemic in India and the Middle East. In India, the group has committed ongoing support towards COVID-19 relief efforts in Mumbai, Coimbatore/Tiruppur, Bangalore, Delhi, and Chennai.

Launching the first phase of its COVID-19 relief initiative in Mumbai, the group has joined forces with public health partners, non-profit and civic organisations to ensure urgent help for vulnerable communities, providing food rations for local low-income families and daily wage earners.  Relief efforts are focused on providing important resources like medical equipment and supplies to frontline workers in collaboration with partner factories. The group, in Mumbai alone, is contributing food kits, medical kits and supplies for hospitals, communities and frontline workers. The LIFE Foundation, which typically works in over 2,000 anganwadis (childcare centres) and in over 160 schools, has also pivoted its programmes to provide aid to underserved populations and workers on the frontline.

Renuka Jagtiani, Chairwoman and CEO, Landmark Group, said, “The Middle East and India have been home to us for several decades, and therefore we have pooled our resources from the Group and the Jagtiani Foundation to work on ground and support those who have been impacted by the crisis. We have tried to reach people across our value chain and by prioritizing the health and safety of our employees and customers, as well as continuing to engage our partner factories in relief efforts and with communities in garment hubs across India. In addition, we are working closely with accredited NGOs, food banks, and healthcare workers on the frontlines to provide aid to help local communities where we operate in need directly in the GCC and India. So many people across the globe have been impacted by this pandemic, and our thoughts are with everyone whose lives have been affected.”

Vasanth Kumar, Managing Director – Lifestyle International Pvt. Ltd. added “We are driven by the need to support the communities who are facing unprecedented hardships due to COVID-19. We aim to bolster the efforts of NGOs, health care workers, and the local government authorities with our combined network and resources. In Mumbai, with support of NGO partners, we are distributing food & dry ration kits for over 43,300 people and over 18,500 medical kits & supplies for hospitals, communities, and frontline workers. We will continue our community relief efforts for COVID-19 on an ongoing basis.”

Poonam Lalvani, Managing Trustee, The LIFE Foundation said, “Since 2001, we’ve been dedicated to empowering youth and marginalised communities through a holistic approach that includes education and health. During these challenging times, we remain committed to our most disadvantaged populations across Mumbai, as well as Thane, Alibag, Chennai, Meghalaya, and Bangalore. To date, we’ve distributed over 100,000kgs of food provisions to vulnerable people, including low-income families and migrant workers. We’re also working to support public hospitals and frontline workers by providing medical supplies, including a recent donation to the paediatric ward ICU in Nair Hospital. We will continue to work tirelessly to serve the community, ensuring we’re agile in responding to daily changing requirements and that we’re truly reaching those in need on the ground.”

Overview of COVID-19 Relief Efforts by Landmark Group in India

In India, the Group’s brands, alongside The Jagtiani Foundation and The LIFE Foundation have pledged to support and empower affected communities including migrant and garment workers, front-line personnel, low-income families, and other vulnerable individuals.

The Jagtiani Foundation is working directly with government hospitals to provide Personal Protective Equipment and masks to frontline healthcare workers, working with Max India to leverage the Group’s partner factories in India to channel resources through its existing supply chain and working communities. The Foundation is also working with a network of reputed local non-profit organisations, such as Apnalaya, Jan Sahas, Oscar Foundation, SAVE, and READ, to provide access to food for underserved populations including low-income families, daily wage earners, and migrant workers. Since its inception, READ has been working on prevention, protection and rehabilitation for young workers from Textile industries and Garment Units located in & around Tiruppur, Erode, Coimbatore and nearby districts and SAVE, a reputed organisation with its roots in the Tiruppur area in Tamil Nadu, has been one of the pioneers in bringing out the issues of textile and garment workers to the world, and eradicating child labour in Tiruppur. In addition to funding these organisations, the Jagtiani Foundation, as well as The LIFE Foundation have also partnered with SPAR Hypermarkets to ensure good quality rations are made available in the quickest possible manner.  The Foundation, in its first phase, is focusing resources in Mumbai, one of the hardest-hit cities in India, as well as in Coimbatore and Tiruppur, a major textile and knitwear hub contributing to 90% of total cotton knitwear exports from India.

The LIFE Foundation has dedicated its COVID-19 efforts to providing food rations and hot meals for labourers, villagers, street dwellers, elderly citizens, and children, as well as PPE Kits, sanitizers, masks for frontline workers in police stations, and public hospitals. The LIFE Foundation is also working to provide medical equipment, having recently donated to the paediatric ward ICU Nair Hospital, Mumbai.

Lifestyle International Private Limited (LIPL) will continue to work with its partner NGOs, pivoting existing programmes to address the immediate needs of those impacted by COVID-19, providing humanitarian relief, and strengthening public health systems. This includes working providing food packs to daily wage earners and migrant workers, as well as medical supplies to government healthcare facilities.

JITO

One of India’s multi-stakeholder community of businessmen professionals, who share a commitment to shape the future of community and society, Jain International Trade Organization (JITO) Kolkata Chapter has been distributing 15000 packets of cooked food to the destitute people on the streets of Kolkata under their project Food4Everyone. The company has extended its CSR initiative and is planning to distribute 200000 food packets and cater to 15,000 people daily till the lockdown continues within an objective that maximum should have access to basic meals. With the support of Kolkata Police, Food4Everyone distributed more than 3, 30,000 packets.

JITO members have also donated Rs. 243,39,03,012 in PM and CM Relief Funds collectively from all its chapters across India.

“Going with Prime Minister Narendra Modiji’s agenda that ‘no one will go hungry’ in the troubled times of COVID-19 emergency, we have decided to distribute daily over 15000+ packets of cooked food to the needy people, who are residing on the streets during the troubled times of COVID-19. As consuming good food helps in building the immune system, we feel that we have contributed in preventing the ongoing health crisis that hits people who are immune-compromised. Our healthy and nutrient-rich food is a step towards prevention,” said Dr Narendra Shyamsukha, Chairman, JITO Kolkata Chapter.

JITO is currently operating from seven kitchens, where all the chefs and their assistants take necessary precautions like wearing gloves, masks and using hand sanitizers while preparing the food. The distribution is being by the local cops, who allow 20 people at a time in the queue.

“We’re expanding our hours so that we can accommodate more people. But we’re reducing the number of people that we’re allowing on-site at any one time. We request more such organizations to come forward and help people in such an extreme situation,” added Dr. Narendra added.

“We are making sure that all the people who aren’t earning daily wages, stuck in the city, can’t move back to their hometown, get daily food,” said Prakash Nahata, Chairman, Food for Everyone Project.

The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation 

The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation in India announced its support of the Road to Recovery, an initiative formed by a coalition of funders to stabilise small businesses, micro-entrepreneurs and gig workers, whose livelihoods are so important to their families, communities, and the Indian economy. Leveraging their experience in supporting low-income gig workers and micro-entrepreneurs over the last several years, the Dell foundation is working with the Global Alliance for the Mass Entrepreneurship and Impact Investors Council to help seed two funds – a COVID-19 Sustenance Fund and a COVID-19 Liquidity Fund.

The Dell Foundation is making an initial commitment of Rs 20 Crores across both funds to support gig workers and micro-entrepreneurs with recoverable grants and loans to help them get back to business. Ford Foundation, Kris Gopalakrishnan, and the CSR arms of Arvind Group and Claris Lifesciences Ltd. are the early funders that have already committed their support to the Road to Recovery initiative.

“Our commitment is to ensure that MSMEs and gig workers can get back to work for their families, communities, and the economy,” said Geeta Goel, Country Director – India, Michael & Susan Dell Foundation. “We encourage other funders, investors, CSRs and philanthropies to join these collaborative platforms with the goal of supporting the stabilisation of small and micro businesses gig workers whose livelihoods impact the community and the overall economy. Together, these sectors employ over 100 million of the country’s workforce.”

The COVID-19 Sustenance Fund is targeted to raise Rs 100 Crore and will provide concessional loans or returnable grants for gig workers who have experienced a substantial drop in their income levels. Companies such as SuperMoney and Shubhloans, and the CSR platform, Samhita, will help to disburse grants and loans from the fund to support gig workers to navigate this new normal and regain their livelihoods. The COVID-19 Liquidity Fund is a Rs 500 Crore fund being set up with Northern Arc (formerly IFMR), with the primary objective of lending to micro and small businesses through Non-Banking Financial Corporations (NBFC).

Current research shows that gig workers across the country have seen a decrease in their income levels from 50 per cent, and in some cases, no income at all. As gig workers experience some of the worst dips in their incomes, it is important that we get them back to work in a meaningful way. As we come out of lockdown, there will be an urgent need to assist the workforce to transition back to work and help them meet their financial obligations.

MSMEs in India contribute to 29 per cent employment and 25 per cent GDP. More than 90 per cent of people in the micro and small segment have limited savings and safety nets. Both funds will help to inject much-needed liquidity in the market for gig workers and micro-entrepreneurs to help reduce repayment issues and stabilize their livelihoods.

Castrol India

Castrol India Limited touched the lives of over 62,000 mechanics and their families across India through monetary contributions amidst the national lockdown, as an extension of its activities under its CSR programme for mechanics – Castrol Eklavya. The contribution supports them to cope with the crisis during this difficult time.

Contributing to the overall empowerment and upliftment of the mechanics’ community, enabling them to earn a sustainable livelihood and live with pride is the key motto of the Castrol Eklavya programme.

Commenting on the initiative, Sandeep Sangwan – Managing Director, Castrol India Limited said, “These unprecedented times have called for an exceptional approach to resolve issues of impacted communities. Mechanics keep the wheels of India moving, and we are glad that we could support them in a small way during these trying times.” 

In addition to this, Castrol India also launched Castrol Super Mechanic Online Academy to help mechanics upgrade their technical and business knowledge and evolve stronger to restart their business.

The Company is also committed to supporting the Government through this pandemic on both medical and social perspectives. It is working with various NGOs to initiate specific actions in these areas:

Medical support in the form of emergency supplies and equipment to Government hospitals across various states including Maharashtra, Telangana, New Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh and Haryana.

Survival kits including groceries to the migrant daily wage earners and food for those stranded – especially the truck drivers at various transportation hubs.

Protective gear to policemen and garbage collectors in key metros.

The Company is also supporting truckers and mechanics through its pan-India outreach programmes; including partial cover for any Covid-19 medical expenses they may incur and initiate programmes to help them and their families tide over the periods of reduced activity.

ICICI Bank

ICICI Bank stands in solidarity with the Government of Karnataka by providing protective equipment to the state government, hospitals and police forces for their tireless efforts to safeguard citizens of the state in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic.

The Bank is working actively with the authorities on this front. It has donated protective equipment like 66,000 of three-ply surgical masks, 2,300 litres sanitisers, 52,500 gloves and 15,000 kg of bleaching powder to the Deputy Commissioners of Mysuru, Chikkamagaluru, Bengaluru, Belagavi, Kalaburagi, Chitradurga and Udupi among others. This initiative is part of the Bank’s nation-wide drive of contributing various protective gears to aid the front-liners to combat the pandemic.

Speaking on the initiative, Saurabh Singh, Head – Government Banking, ICICI Bank said, “ICICI Group has a legacy of supporting the development of the nation as well as providing support in times of natural calamities and disasters. Taking this legacy forward, we are standing in solidarity with various state governments, police departments and health professionals in their tireless efforts to treat and safeguard citizens of the country in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic. Our support to the various authorities in Karnataka is part of these activities.

The doctors treating the COVID-19 suspects/patients and the police and paramilitary forces managing the orderly implementation of the lockdown are at the frontline of this combat. We have focussed our efforts to reach out to the government hospitals and the forces in the state. Despite supply chain challenges, we are providing them supplies in the form of sanitisers, surgical masks, N95 masks, gloves, personal protection equipment, etc. We are also providing equipment like thermal scanners and non-invasive category ventilators.”

Sakthi Masala

Sakthi Masala, one of India’s reputed food products manufacturers, donated Rs 5 Crore (on 30.03.2020) towards Tamil Nadu Chief Minister’s Public Relief Fund in appreciation of the able leadership of the Chief Minister, Edappadi K Palaniswami for the COVID-19 containment and relief efforts.

The Group is making a contribution to the relief fund for the second time by donating Rs 5.10 Crore on 11.05.2020 for providing immediate relief to the people in distress. In total, Sakthi Masala has made contributions to the tune of Rs 10.10 Crore to the relief fund to demonstrate its unwavering solidarity with the Tamil Nadu government and the people of the State.

Sakthi Masala recognises and salutes the exemplary administration of the Chief Minister, and profusely thanks the ministers, MLAs, officials of the State’s Health & Family Welfare, Revenue, Police, Food And Civil Supplies, Labour Welfare, Fire and Rescue Service, Disaster Management Authority, Rural and Local Government Bodies, District Administration, and officers of other ministries and departments, field workers, doctors, paramedical staff, sanitary workers and conservancy staff, police staff, home guards, ex-servicemen, volunteers, social service organisations, NCC and NSS students who are working round the clock to contain the spread of the coronavirus on a war footing.

The Group believes that the State will soon emerge victorious in its battle against the pandemic with the grace of God and the selfless dedication of everyone in the State.

Clariant

Clariant, a focused, sustainable and innovative specialty chemical company, has in the past weeks initiated the production of sanitiser solutions from its facilities in India to help curb the spread of COVID-19. Clariant’s sites across Roha, Maharashtra; Bonthapally, Telangana; Rania, Vadodara and Cuddalore, Tamil Nadu have committed to supply the necessary products that are required for the healthcare facilities.

Clariant’s site in Cuddalore has produced a total of 154,250 litres of sodium hypochlorite solution for sterilisation. This is being used by local hospitals and healthcare centres in 683 Panchayats in Cuddalore and around 250 Panchayats in Virudunagar district.

In addition, Clariant’s Bonthapally site has produced 4000 litres of the solution with a limited workforce, which was sprayed across 14 local wards. The team handed over 1000 disposable masks and 50 protective face shield masks in and around Bonthapally village, the Gram Panchayat Office and the local police station.

Furthermore, Clariant’s Roha site has been producing sanitisers for local and in-house use. The site team handed over 100 fogging hand pumps for sanitisation purposes and nearly 1000 face masks to support the safety of local authorities.  The team has donated 300 litres of handwash liquid soap to the Tahsildar office and 2000 litres of the same to the Raigad Collector’s office.

Its Rania site team distributed 111 dry ration kits to the needy from the nearby villages.

So far, Clariant in India has contributed to CM Relief Funds for COVID-19 of Maharashtra (Rs 10 Lakhs) and Telangana (Rs 5 Lakh). Our employees voluntarily contributed a day’s salary and an equal amount was topped up by the management, totalling Rs 16 lakhs towards the PM-CARES Fund. In addition, the Roha employees and the Union jointly contributed Rs 1.50 lakhs for the Maharashtra Chief Minister’s Relief Fund.

Adnan Ahmad, Region Head for Clariant in India, said, “We are in the midst of an unprecedented situation with the COVID-19 pandemic. Clariant in India’s team is focussed on employee safety, community support and ensuring business continuity. Our teams are committed to supporting the neighbourhood around our sites, to ensure that they are safe too. Clariant has also contributed over Rs 32 Lakhs to various government relief funds for COVID-19. Simultaneously, we are now meeting the demands for many essential ingredients of our key customers, especially those who are engaged in servicing the increasing needs of the health and hygiene market segments.”

Quotes from Industry Heads: 

Naveen Soni, Senior Vice President, Sales & Services, Toyota Kirloskar Motor: “We appreciate the Government’s efforts to elevate the economy during these difficult times. Now, with the focus shifting towards reopening and strengthening the economy in order to maintain business continuity and sustain jobs, the announcement of the economic package by the honourable Prime Minister comes as a welcome relief. We welcome the message for India to be self-reliant and the need to introduce strong reforms, which will further strengthen the Indian auto industry which is one of the key pillars of economic growth and has the distinction of having a globally competitive and very well developed supply chain with a high level of localisation. The stimulus package of INR 20 trillion is comparable with the measures taken globally and will definitely boost the morale of the stressed sectors and industries, especially the MSMEs. Furthermore, the reclassification of the MSME sector, based on investment and turn over will open up various enterprises to remain as MSMEs, aiding cash flow with collateral-free loans. The Government is taking measures to boost the supply side of the economy and we now await their support to boost the demand side where govt spending can boost a faster revival of the economy.

We at Toyota have been strongly supporting the Government’s ‘Make in India’ initiative and have introduced various initiatives over the years through localization of parts and components, empowering local suppliers and promising quality at par with the global standards. We hope, through this new stimulus and the likely reforms, the industry will be able to iron out bottlenecks pertaining to liquidity, supply chain, demand, labour-related issues and restore the economy in an effective manner. Given the current situation, we understand that we will have to operate alongside COVID-19 for a prolonged period. However, through this initiative, the Government has inspired us to strengthen our preparedness and confidence to resume business operations while safeguarding the health and safety of all stakeholders. The relief package announced by the Honourable Finance Ministry today will certainly support in helping the MSME sector, NBFCs and also help in building demand in the lockdown 4.0 phase. We look forward to catering to our valued customers during this time of distress and will continue to support the Government in this fight against the COVID-19 epidemic.”

Dr Manu Gupta – SEEDS Co-Founder
“Early conservative estimates of losses from the COVID-19 crisis were pegged at about $240 billion and MSMEs, the lifeline of the Indian economy, is taking the brunt of it. In light of that, today’s announcements by the Hon’ble Finance Minister regarding the relief measures for these enterprises are heartening to see. The collateral-free loans will be a huge aid for the recovery for the micro and small enterprises. However, a large number of small businesses still operate in the informal sector. Civil society has an important role to play in bringing these bottom-rung establishments under the tent and provide accompanying support of local social networks. This will not just help them recover from the current crisis but also make them resilient to future shocks.”