In the wake of an increasingly severe COVID crisis in India, several U-M academic leaders have released statements of support. “The U.S. government has pledged to help, and we urge immediate and meaningful action,” reads the statement from President Mark Schlissel. “We are sharing our expertise with elected leaders to advise on how to best provide assistance.”

“India has long been one of our most cherished international partners in education and research. About 1,000 of our current students and 6,000 alumni hail from India. Many are in the country now experiencing the crisis personally. We also have established several collaborations with Indian organizations and academic institutions and are also proud to have many faculty and staff of Indian heritage.

Across campus, LSA Dean Anne Curzan shared the following heartfelt message for U-M community members with connections to India:

Michigan Medical School Dean Marschall S. Runge provided a public health perspective on the crisis. “India has experienced dramatic spikes in positive cases and the pace of illness has crippled the hospital and health care systems across the country,” he wrote.

“Around the world, countries that are able are pledging their help with philanthropic funding, oxygen supplies, vaccines and PPE. India has had many long-standing connections to the University of Michigan through academic and research collaborations and partnerships...if you are able, consider how you might assist the people of India who are suffering so deeply.

Steve Grafton, President of the Alumni Association at the University of Michigan, supplied a link to the American India Foundation’s COVID Response Fund and encouraged alumni to donate. He also added a positive note about collaboration and resilience.

“If there is a silver lining during the pandemic, it is in the stories of courage, collaboration, and kindness that we are hearing about...Although it may seem insurmountable right now, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Our futures will not be determined by this crisis, but by our resilience to rise up in spite of it. We send our Indian alumni and their families strength, support, and hope for a better tomorrow,” he wrote.

Director of the Center for South Asian Studies, Professor Jatin Dua, expressed solidarity “with all of our cherished alumni, friends, and family members in India, as well as on behalf of our current students and their families.” His statement continues: “To all who are enduring these agonies, we at CSAS agonize with you. As you grieve, we grieve too.”

Professor Dua’s message included a call to action, urging the White House and U.S. NGOs “to continue exploring options for providing urgently needed oxygen generation equipment.” 

“We are all touched by this pandemic; each of us is a part of the continent. As we in the U.S. have begun to emerge from our darkest year in recent memory, may we not rest until we have ensured that our friends in India, and in the rest of the world, are emerging alongside us,” reads his statement’s powerful conclusion.