Greetings from your Councilman At-Large! Franklin Township is one of the most diverse communities in the great State of NJ. As an elected official in the Municipality with nearly 23% South Asian population I must speak about the responsibility of the US Government to immediately help mitigate the current Covid-19 crisis in India, the largest democracy in the world from where I immigrated over 40 years ago. We as a nation are not safe from such pandemic unless other nations are also safe.
Let us remember the instance when former President Trump asked for a huge supply of Chloroquine to treat Covid-19, Indian Prime minister Modi complied and sent them to US ahead of other countries. So now at the height of this deadly pandemic when India needs the much needed raw materials to produce the vaccine, is it not our responsibility as the most developed nation and the largest economy in the world to reciprocate the goodwill of an important ally in Asia?
While 40% of US has received at least one dose of the vaccine, less than 2% of India's 1.3 billion people have been vaccinated. Just today I am reading about places in the US with overstock of the vaccines and even closure of some vaccine centers. On the other hand, the scenes I have been seeing from Indian news and social media are heart wrenching. Hospitals in major cities are out of Oxygen and images of people struggling to breathe are being broadcast all over the world. As much as the vaccine is required to protect the people from infection, Oxygen and other therapeutics such as monoclonal antibodies for the hospitalized as recommended by US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, are needed to save the lives of the people that contracted Covid-19.
India has the world's largest manufacturer of vaccines, Serum Institute of India which has the capacity to meet the demands of the world as it has done during the past crises, including the AIDS pandemic at the request of former President Bush. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation had stepped up in providing tremendous support to alleviate the financial burden faced by India. UK and France are sending lifesaving supplies to India beginning yesterday.
Let me quote Thirukkural (ancient Tamil language literature) "காலத்தி னாற்செய்த நன்றி சிறிதெனினும்
ஞாலத்தின் மாணப் பெரிது." meaning "A favor conferred in the time of need, though it be small (in itself), is (in value) much larger than the world." I urge all of our state and national elected officials to express support to India and ask the Biden Administration to release the raw materials for the vaccine, therapeutics, as well as lifesaving oxygen and medicine to India immediately.