How the Reliance family came together to fight COVID-19 in India

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As India went into lockdown on March 24, the Reliance family, Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) and Reliance Foundation, almost immediately launched a 24x7, multi-pronged, on-the-ground effort to ensure the nation wins the battle against COVID-19. “Whenever India is faced with adversity, our people have always overcome it with unity and determination. Our response to this crisis will be no different. Together, we will win,” says Nita Ambani, founder and chairperson of Reliance Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Reliance Industries. The foundation was set up in 2010 to play a catalytic role in addressing India’s developmental challenges through innovative and sustainable solutions for its vision of an inclusive India. Apart from donating 556 crore to various government relief funds, including the PM CARES Fund and various other relief funds, the Reliance Foundation has been working relentlessly through the pandemic to serve the marginalised and the vulnerable. Here’s a closer look at the various initiatives they have undertaken over the last few months that range from a food distribution programme to producing PPE equipment for India’s front-line heroes.

Mission Anna Seva

As of the end of May, the foundation’s feeding programme had provided over 4.5 crore meals across 77 districts, 17 states and one union territory. Mission Anna Seva is the largest meal distribution programme undertaken by a corporate foundation anywhere in the world. They have been providing meals to daily wagers, slum dwellers, urban service providers, factory workers and residents of old-age homes and orphanages, as well as front-line workers across the country. They’ve given cooked meals, ready-to-eat food packets, dry ration kits to families and bulk rations to community kitchens and to those most in need by working together with over 75 partners across the country who are engaged in hunger alleviation programmes. 

Alongside this, food tokens (that can be redeemed at Reliance Retail outlets such as Reliance Fresh, Reliance Smart Superstore, Reliance Smart Point, and Sahakari Bhandar) have also been distributed. The entire staff of the foundation and the larger Reliance family from across the country are working together on this project. Reliance Retail employees are packing, preparing and supplying the provisions needed. Employee volunteers from across Reliance sites in Mumbai, Silvasa, Vadodara, Patalganga, Hazira, Jhajjar, Shahdol, Jamnagar, Dahej, Barabanki, Nagothane, Gadimoga and Hoshiarpur have been distributing free meals to vulnerable communities in their respective locations.

And staff members at certain Reliance petrol stations in West Bengal, Kerala and Odisha are distributing free meals to truck drivers who are transporting essential commodities. Apart from the gargantuan Anna Seva mission, the foundation has also provided tonnes of dry fodder for cattle and bird feed across the country, and has been working in collaboration with various NGOs to help feed the thousands of stray dogs across the country that have had a tough time finding food due to the fall in human activity.

Healthcare services

In March, Sir HN Reliance Foundation Hospital (RFH) and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) announced it had set up India’s first COVID-19 hospital, a dedicated 100-bed centre at Seven Hills Hospital for patients who test positive for COVID-19. This first-of-its-kind centre is fully funded by Reliance Foundation and has now been expanded to 222 beds. All beds are equipped with the required infrastructure, biomedical equipment such as ventilators, pacemakers, dialysis machines and patient monitoring devices. In a short span of time since its inception, the RFH facility at Seven Hills Hospital has admitted more than 300 COVID-19-positive patients. Sir HN Reliance Foundation Hospital is also the first institute in Maharashtra identified by ICMR to be part of a multicentre clinical trial to evaluate the efficacy of plasma therapy.

Reliance also provided free fuel to government notified emergency service vehicles used to transport COVID-19 patients. So far, over 5.5 lakh litres of free fuel, supporting over 14,000 ambulances, has been provided. And finally, to combat the rising demand and global shortages, Reliance Industries is producing 1,00,000 personal protective equipment (PPE) and face masks per day for India’s health workers. Reliance Life Sciences is providing test kits and consumables for effective testing, thereby enhancing India’s testing capacity.

On-ground and online 

Reliance Foundation has also been supporting rural communities across the country during these unprecedented times. Through virtual audio-visual sessions, they have been providing specialist help and advice to farmers, fishermen, Gram Panchayat leaders and other groups, giving them guidance on how to meet challenges and learn about various schemes for financial support and livelihood opportunities. Farmer Producer Organisations, mentored by Reliance Foundation, are also supporting farmers to harvest their crops and get a fair price for their produce. In addition, they have mobilised self-help groups into making masks, sanitisers, donating grains and other essentials to help those in need in their own local communities.

In order to ensure availability of essentials to Indians, all 736 grocery stores of Reliance Retail have been providing a sufficient supply of essentials (staples, fruits and vegetables, bread, breakfast cereals) and other items of daily use so that citizens need not stock up. Along with home delivery services for senior citizens and takeaway orders from the stores so that the consumers and staff are not exposed.

Reliance’s telecom arm, Jio, has been providing uninterrupted and reliable digital connectivity to over 40 crore individuals and thousands of organisations. It has introduced a range of new digital tools to aid healthcare-from-home solutions, from the symptom checker (it enables users to check their symptoms at home to prevent unnecessary pressure on the medical system and provides real time updates on the coronavirus situation) to Jio Haptik (the WhatsApp chat bot has been developed free of cost to power the MyGov Corona Helpdesk to address queries around the coronavirus outbreak and disseminate verified information). Be it on the ground through their relief efforts or online through their digital and telecom innovations, the Reliance family has come together to battle the pandemic. 

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