Jaipur Foot USA Chairman Prem Bhandari applauds Air India crew for service amid COVID-19 crisisPTI | New York | Updated: 20-05-2020 12:36 IST | Created: 20-05-2020 11:28 IST
Jaipur Foot USA Chairman Prem Bhandari has described the 'Vande Bharat' exercise to repatriate Indians stranded abroad as a "historic humanitarian mission" by the Indian government as he along with other members of the Indian-American community accorded a warm welcome to an Air India crew here. The Air India flight arrived from India into the J F K International Airport in New York on Tuesday and in a special gesture of gratitude for their service, Bhandari welcomed them as guests in the Stay Bridge hotel in New York's iconic Times Square.
"The Vande Bharat is a historic humanitarian mission and unprecedented effort" launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to repatriate thousands of Indian nationals stranded during this coronavirus pandemic, Bhandari said. "The pilots and crew members of Air India are warriors for us who have put their lives at risk by coming to New York, the epicenter of COVID-19, to fly their stranded countrymen back home," he said.
Coronavirus cases in New York stand at over 353,000 with over 23,834 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. He said the Air India crew are guests of the Indian-American community and people of Indian-origin in the US as he welcomed them at the hotel owned by Chandra and KK Mehta in Times Square. "You have come to a second home. I salute you on behalf of Indians and the Indian-American community in the US for your services in the times of such crisis." He also expressed gratitude to Air India Chairman and Managing Director Rajiv Bansal for the opportunity to be of service to the Air India team. Consul General of India in New York Sandeep Chakravorty applauded the Air India team saying they have risen to the occasion in the face of the COVID-19 challenges. He said the Consulate and the community organizations in New York applaud the Air India crew for rising to the call of duty and for their service to the nation. Present on the occasion were Deputy Consul General Shatrughna Sinha, Regional Finance Manager, Americas, Air India Kamal Roul, and Federation of Indian Associations- NY NJ CT (FIA) President Anil Bansal. Mehta announced a donation of one million dollars for COVID-19 relief efforts in Rajasthan. This is in addition to the Rs 1.5 crore donated by the Nakoda Bheravnath Charitable Foundation that has already been donated for the COVID-19 cause. Bhandari, who is the Chairman of the Foundation's advisory board, said Rs one crore was donated to the PM CARES Fund within a day of the Fund being created in March. He added that the Mehtas had also offered to provide hundreds of rooms for Indians students stranded in the US as the COVID-19 crisis began in the country.