NLSIU Alumni Raise Over Five Million INR for COVID Relief to the NLSIU Community

Sameer, a staff member at NLS, had a harrowing time when his mother fell ill after having contracted COVID-19. “The virus was detected through a CT scan. In the absence of an RT-PCR test, we were unable to even approach hospitals for a bed. And it was a challenge accessing the medication Remdesivir. I had essentially lost hope,” said Sameer, who then reached out to the University for help.

With several alumni and students pitching in for help, he managed to procure a bed at Dr. B. R. Ambedkar Medical College and Hospital for his mother, who has now returned home and is recovering. “The COVID Relief Committee helped us with procuring medicines and footing hospital bills,” said Sameer, who was able to get timely financial aid thanks to the immediate response from the Alumni Community.

Sameer is one of the beneficiaries of the NLSIU COVID Relief Fund which has garnered over Rs. 50 lakh, owing to the tremendous efforts of our alumni toward supporting the NLSIU Community during the pandemic.

Why was the Fund set-up?

In the second half of April, we witnessed the peak of the second wave of COVID-19 during which several members of the NLSIU Community were affected. There were a number of faculty and staff members who, either had relatives in hospitals, or were battling the virus themselves. Beds were hard to come by, and treatment was expensive. It was around the same time that two beloved members of the Community, Prof. V S Mallar and Dr. R S Kumbhar, also succumbed to the virus.

This led to discussions on alumni WhatsApp groups where alumni expressed their willingness to help those in need of funds. NLSIU faculty member Dr. Mrinal Satish, who is part of the COVID Relief Committee, said: “There was a conversation within the Alumni Community on raising funds, and faculty members also received calls from alums who were keen on contributing for COVID relief to the NLSIU community. They suggested that a formal fund be set up by the University, to which contributions could be made. Accordingly, the NLSIU COVID Relief Fund was set up within the next 24 hours.”

Rs. 48 lakhs in 48 hours!

The University worked with the Governing Council of the Alumni Association to put out a call on social media,including alumni WhatsApp groups, regarding the Fund. The response to the call was overwhelming – nearly Rs. 48 lakh was collected within hours of the Fund being set up! The first chunk of ₹21 lakh was raised in the first 24 hours while another chunk of ₹27 lakh came in during another slot of 24 hours. The Alumni Community rose to the occasion with around 250 members contributing to the Fund.

COVID Relief Committee:

To ensure a systematic way of disbursing the funds for COVID Relief, the University set up a Committee comprising two members each from the faculty, the administrative staff, and the Alumni Association. To ensure quick turnaround, the committee coordinates online to decide on the method of disbursement.These funds are distributed on a need-basis, and to those whose financial need is over and above the benefits provided by the University, including insurance and medical reimbursements. A few members of the staff and their families have already received assistance from the Fund for COVID-19 treatment.

Life Beyond COVID-19:

Besides providing for treatment and medical facilities, few alumni members also expressed interest in contributing toward education and future support to families impacted by the pandemic.

Ex-gratia payments were given out to families of two staff members who passed away due to COVID-19: Ravi C B, the hostel cook, and Srinivasa H, the housekeeping supervisor at the University.

Ravi, who passed away in April, is the son-in-law of Narayanappa, who was a cook in the Boys’ Hostel until his retirement recently. Ravi is survived by his wife and two daughters aged 10 and 6 years old.

His wife, Anitha said: “At first, we weren’t able to find a bed, and then there was the mounting medical care expenditure. However, NLS helped and supported us at every juncture – be it in facilitating a bed, medical expenses, as well as emotional support. While there are going to be several challenges lined up ahead, the University and alumni support has given me some strength in these difficult times.”

Appreciating the prompt support:

Acknowledging the prompt and substantial support received from the Alumni Community, NLSIU Vice-Chancellor Prof (Dr) Sudhir Krishnaswamy observed that “While the University does provide a generous medical insurance and an adequate medical expenses reimbursement plan, the COVID pandemic placed demands on staff that far exceeded this coverage. Our alumni ensured that we could support every staff member in need and allow them to get through this crisis. Above all, the COVID Relief Fund effort demonstrates the ability of the University and our Alumni community to work collaboratively, effectively and transparently to resolve insurmountable challenges – this is a great sign for the future of the University!”