These IIT graduates started an online fundraiser for oxygen concentrators in a small district in Madhya Pradesh – they raised more than ₹47 lakh in three days

These IIT graduates started an online fundraiser for oxygen concentrators in a small district in Madhya Pradesh – they raised more than ₹47 lakh in three days
Kunal Mahajan, Shashank Yaduvanshi, Rishav Gupta raised ₹47 lakhs in three days for COVID-19 reliefBI India
  • Three IIT Delhi graduates, one of whom is an IAS officer serving in the Mandsaur district of Madhya Pradesh, raised over ₹47 lakhs for oxygen concentrators in the area.
  • Rishav Gupta, additional collector of Mandsaur district in western Madhya Pradesh, Shashank Yadhuvanshi, android engineer at Jack Dorsey-led Square, and Kunal Mahajan, business developer at the payments giant Stripe led the campaign.
  • Within three-four days of launching the crowdfunding campaign, they raised above their target.
The second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic has crippled India’s healthcare system, overburdening hospitals and medical staff. India’s big cities, including its national capital Delhi, are facing a crunch in the supply of oxygen, which makes one only wonder about the state in India’s rural districts.

And that was a conversation taking place in a Whatsapp group of three Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi graduates, one of whom is an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer serving in the hinterlands of India. The trio decided to raise ₹47,50,000 to install 50 oxygen concentrators in the district of Mandsaur in central India. Within three-four days of launching the crowdfunding campaign, they raised above their target.
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Rishav Gupta, additional collector of Mandsaur in western Madhya Pradesh, was discussing the situation in his own district with his friends in the US -- Shashank Yadhuvanshi, who works as an android engineer at Jack Dorsey-led Square, and Kunal Mahajan, who is a business developer at the payments giant Stripe.

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“I was telling them about the situation, that while at the district level there is enough supply of oxygen, beyond the same, in the hinterland of India we are facing certain issues. Because of logistical issues, the best way to deal with the crisis is install oxygen concentrators,” Gupta told Business Insider.

While they started talking about donating on their own, the idea eventually led to something bigger – crowdsourcing funds to install a greater amount of oxygen concentrators in Mandsaur. “We got in touch with Milaap and importers of oxygen concentrators. We required 50 concentrators, for 10 small hospitals in the hinterlands,” he said.

While Mandsaur has a 300 bed district hospital with 96 points of central oxygen line, the idea was to make use of the 10 peripheral hospitals to reduce the load in the main hospital. Within days of launch, they received an overwhelming response on their crowdfunding campaign, and calls started pouring in. “We got a lot of help from the IIT community, spread the word through social media and we saw that people from Mandsaur, who are now living abroad, chipped in generously,” he said.

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Gupta, being an IAS officer, ensures that there was no dearth of help from the government. “All of these are supplementary, public representatives are spending all their funds on covid help, but the scale of the pandemic is such that we are doing all that we can,” he said.

Gupta explains that there are two kinds of situations they are dealing with on ground – one, where a patient has tested covid positive, the other is a suspect. “We are able to control the situation in covid positive cases, but there are a lot of people who ignore the symptoms and don’t start medication until the case becomes a severe one. So, they come to the hospital only when the condition is worse and critical, and those are the patients to worry about,” said Gupta.

They have already placed orders for 35 concentrators, and now having achieved the fund target will now order for 15 more.

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