Sometime in March, Noida-based entrepreneur, Rahul Raj, was having a casual conversation with his Twitter friend Anurag Dikshit about how the COVID-19 crisis was worsening in India.
The latter, a Mumbai-based serial entrepreneur, has been virtual friends with Rahul for years. In the past, the duo has brainstormed several innovative ideas in the technological sphere.
During their chat, both of them realised an unfortunate truth—that there was a high possibility of medical professionals in the country experiencing a serious deficit of equipment and appliances in the upcoming days.
After consulting a team of researchers, professors and experts from Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Jawaharlal Nehru Centre For Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), Indian Institute of Technology (IITs) and other elite institutions, the two of them decided to launch ‘Caring Indians’, an initiative where the best technical minds of the country would come up with cutting-edge healthcare solutions within short notice, to mend the gaps in the country’s healthcare infrastructure.
However, over time, ‘Caring Indians’ has proliferated beyond expectation to become a multipronged positive movement against COVID-19. From providing meals to the helpless daily wage earners to prototyping fascinating innovations for the frontline healthcare workers, Caring Indians is now a nationwide phenomenon.
Brainstorming innovative technical solutions
Initially, Caring Indians was created to become a virtual conclave of technological innovations.
Speaking to The Better India, Rahul Raj, says, “Anurag and I started the initiative on March 21, just four days before the nationwide lockdown was imposed. Soon, we were joined by Nanjesh Patel, Ajayender Reddy, Manish Goyal and Samarth—all of whom were my Twitter contacts, who are now coordinating particular domains of the initiative.”
“We welcomed engineers from all over India, and within a while, we came up with designs like a low-cost contactless infrared thermometer, invasive ventilator system, Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) diagnostic panels, protective masks, calcium hypochlorite disinfectant solution etc.,” he adds.
The ideations were materialised in different labs across India. For instance, IIT Kanpur and NOCCA Robotics worked on the ventilator, while a few engineers designed the thermometer in Jaipur and Nagpur.
Rahul Raj himself is currently working with two professors in IIT-Guwahati on some other IoT devices.
“Most of the products are already in the prototype phase, and they will be sent for bulk production once we get the government approval and production work resumes,” says Rahul. He admits that logistics is also a big challenge since importing parts from other countries is impossible at the moment.
Serving Meals Across The Country
The initial objective of Caring Indians attracted only a niche follower base comprising the scientific brains of the country. Moved by the plight of the poor amid the lockdown, the founders wanted to expand the ambit of the movement beyond technology.
Soon, the initiative became an umbrella project that roped in doctors, volunteers and people from all walks of life who were willing to do their part for helping their distressed countrymen.
They started a food distribution chain and have served over 50,000 meals across Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Jaipur, Ranchi and recently South Bengaluru. Monitored by film producer Manish Mundra, the group has also distributed PPE kits and masks in several places.
“Within the initial few days itself, we got over 1000 volunteers who were delegated in their own areas with one particular responsibility or the other,” informs Rahul.
Aside from tapping the technical talent pool and supporting the needy, Caring Indians is also acting as a connecting link to facilitate the procurement and distribution of locally-produced masks, gloves, sanitisers, PPE kits etc.
They have collaborated with the government authorities in different districts to execute smoother management of their operations.
If you are willing to be part of this noble movement, follow the @CaringIndians Twitter handle or drop them a mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Know more about their ongoing projects here:
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)