Centre faces questions over how it plans to use foreign aid



  •  The consignment of about 28 tonnes of equipment sent by the French government to India was delivered to the Indian Red Cross Society at the Delhi airport and then transferred to the Centre.
  •  France delivered eight oxygen plants, four of which would be used at hospitals in Delhi.
  •  Each of these oxygen generator plants will make an Indian hospital fully oxygen Aatmanirbhar for more than 10 years.

How to route the funding?

  •  The process on how to route the funding, which is handed over by the foreign governments through the Indian Red Cross to the Ministry of Health, is being coordinated by an Empowered Group of Ministers and officials, which is fielding the requests from the various State governments.
  •  Whatever is coming in from abroad is going to the Ministry of Health and then, depending on need, will be processed.
  • As several countries, including the U.S., Germany and France, were sending military and technical personnel to run some of the equipment, the next logistical challenge would also involve ensuring that the foreign personnel were assisted locally at the areas where the aid is sent to within the country.

Foreign aid and its distribution

  •  The current mobilisation of resources involving the mapping of locations where supplies are urgently needed is being steered by empowered groups or panels.
  • These empowered groups were first set up days after the first lockdown was announced last year.
  • Initially, 11 empowered panels were formed to handle services to combat the pandemic, but in September last year they were restructured to a smaller group of five.
  • The objective is to dispatch promptly to recipient institutions in various parts of the country in coordination with different government agencies.
  • Once the consignment arrives, the information is passed to the empowered committees.
  •  In consultation with the health ministry officials, the material is distributed and the road and transport ministry is tasked with the supply of these materials. They are then immediately dispatched to various places.
  • The majority of resources coming to India are being routed through the Indian Red Cross Society (IRCS).
  • Those coming through direct collaboration between companies and NGO are being distributed by respective organisations.

The Distribution Plan

  • As a nodal ministry, the health ministry is coordinating with several ministries including the commerce (department of promotion of industry and internal trade or DPIIT), transport ministry and the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
  • The key panel, Empowered Group-2, is headed by the secretary DPIIT in the commerce ministry to ensure the availability of medical resources, especially oxygen.
  •  The EG-2 is keeping an account of the availability of oxygen based on each state's needs and the prevailing situation.
  • The DPIIT has set up a control room to coordinate the effort.
  •  Largely the government-to-government aid is going to hospitals and health facilities operated by the state or central government.
  • As per the plan drawn by the health ministry, the equipment which is procured or received is dispatched to the target state.

Indian Red Cross Society

  • The Indian Red Cross Society (IRCS) is a voluntary humanitarian organization to protect human life and health based in India.
  • It is part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, and so shares the Fundamental Principles of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. 
  • The society's mission is providing relief in times of disasters/emergencies and promoting health & care of vulnerable people and communities. 
  • It has a network of over 700 branches throughout India.The Society uses the Red Cross as an emblem in common with other international Red Cross societies.
  •  Volunteering has been at the very heart of the Indian Red Cross Society since its inception in 1920, with the Society having Youth and Junior volunteering programmes. 
  • The Society is closely associated with the St John Ambulance in India.


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