UK, US, EU Lead Outreach as India Battles Deadly Covid Wave: The timing of the new British outreach to India couldn’t have been more poignant. In a week when the British Prime Minister was due in India, he is sending oxygen instead. The first lot is due in India on Tuesday. And who would grudge Boris Johnson a pat on the British back for this. “Thanks to the ventilator challenge (that Britain took up earlier to produce them on scale), the huge efforts of British manufacturers, we’re better able now to deliver ventilators to other countries. But also possibly with therapeutics, dexamethasone, other things, we’ll look at what we can do to help,” he said. Nine container-loads of supplies are now on their way from Britain. But not just Britain. The US, the EU, just about every country is doing all it can when India needs the best of such togetherness most. The troubles of others can be little consolation through this Covid crisis in India. But other countries have been through situations almost as dire as what India is undergoing. Only a little more than a couple of months back pretty Surrey county just to the west of London ran out of space in its mortuaries. A makeshift mortuary had to be set up in the woods. In Italy, the army had to be called in through its peak last year to remove the dead because city crematoriums could not cope. It got much worse in several Latin American countries. It’s Indians’ turn now to hold on to hope and to hold their nerve.
Indian Community in UK Steps up: The Indian community in Britain is chipping in to do all it can. The response to a request from the Indian High Commission in London has been encouraging. The High Commission tweeted over the weekend asking for refillable oxygen cylinders of 10 and 45-litre capacity, oxygen concentrators, in situ oxygen plants for hospitals, and the remdesivir drug. Not many have direct access to the items listed, but people are making cash contributions to that end. Besides the Indian High Commission, a number of community organisations are stepping in. The drive to support India is accelerating.
Crisis Leaves Many Indians in Britain Jobless: Britain is sitting very comfortably at the moment with Covid levels at a low, despite a slight rise over recent days following an easing of the lockdown. But in a less lethal way, of course, a lot of Indians in Britain continue to be affected. Indians are on average among the highest earners in Britain, but not all Indians, and not these days particularly. Many Indians in London work in catering and around Heathrow. Given the hit to travel and associated services, thousands of them are jobless. Many among them can be seen now queuing for free food in some Indian areas of London on the weekends. That is a sight that would have been unthinkable in pre-Covid times.
After UK Red-listing, EU-wide Ban Expected on India Flights: After that red-listing of arrivals from India in Britain, and given the fast-worsening situation, other countries necessarily had to follow. Germany has imposed a ban, followed by Italy. The ban is really going to be EU-wide given that anyone arriving in any EU country can travel without restrictions to any other. Given the expected wait of several days yet for the crisis to peak, the bans are likely to stay in place for some time to come.