Bradford born Vaseem Kader, moved to Mumbai, India nine years ago, and has become a successful social entrepreneur in the city which is home to the world’s largest film industry.
Vaseem’s family are the owners of Bradford’s pioneering Asian fashion brand Bombay Stores, yet despite giving more than three decades to the successful business he decided he wanted to settle down in India. Since moving there, Vaseem and his wife successfully launched a series of nail salons and also run a social enterprise, called the Happy Foundation investing back into supporting those in need.
He told Asian Standard, that his life has been pretty great in India until the Covid disaster hit, destroying families, livelihoods and creating panic.
“I have never seen anything like it” Vaseem shared over a video call.
“We [India] opened up last year after the first lockdown and just like many other business owners my cosmetics business had suffered during the first lockdown, but then when we opened up, we had a boom. While you guys in the UK, then went into your second lockdown in January, we in India thought we were invincible” he said.
“The problem here is mismanagement of government. Disaster management in India has been a Disaster. There are a lot of rich people and there are a lot of poor people in India. While I am not politically inclined and have no interest in politics, there is politics at play. India has many states and there are different political parties managing those states.
“What has been happening in my view is that central government has been holding oxygen and vaccines, to states not controlled by them, so those leaders become unpopular in their states. This is so the government, which is the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) becomes popular.” He continued.
“Disaster management in India has been a Disaster”
“If you look at the death rate, it’s not the highest by population, the issue is the lack of resources reaching people and making people suffer. The lack of healthcare getting to people quickly. India isn’t short of resources – it’s made the vaccine after all.”
The number of new coronavirus infections in India has passed 20 million with 357,229 new cases reported within 24 hours as of Tuesday 4 May.
India is now the second nation in the world, after the United States, to pass the milestone with health ministry data showing 222,408 deaths since the pandemic began.
The government says infection rates are coming down, after the country set yet another daily global record for COVID-19 cases on Saturday, with 401,993 new infections.
But experts believe the true figure for COVID-19 cases and fatalities is higher.
The news that’s coming in is of hospitals running out of beds, patients with severe Covid are left to fend for themselves at home or be treated at hospital car parks and in the streets. Distraught people are flooding social media with pleas for oxygen and medicines. The recent surge of infections in India seems to be faster than anywhere else in the world and has left India’s healthcare system at its knees.
Many deaths in rural areas are also going unregistered. It’s an emergency and thankfully several countries including the UK have sent in aid to help India during this crisis.
The UK has around 1.4 million British Indians, many of whom have been anxiously waiting for news from loved ones, to ensure they are safe or at least have access to treatment from this deadly virus. They also want to do what they can to help India during this catastrophe.
Many British charities such as the Amir Khan Foundation, Penny Appeal have stepped up to help India during this crisis.
Vaseem, has also offered to help through his social enterprise – Happy Foundation.
He told Asian Standard: “People don’t need to send money for oxygen supplies or medicines, as the resources are there, they just need to reach the people, the infrastructure isn’t there and there is a lot of mismanagement.
“How people can help is by supporting those people who can no longer go to work.” He continued.
“Imagine a father who is a taxi driver, with lockdown in place how is he going to earn for his family? Where is his income going to come from?” Asked Vaseem
“He isn’t as lucky as the British people who have furlough schemes, grants and even interest free loans. India doesn’t have a decent healthcare or a welfare system and that is the biggest problem here. I am lucky I have a lot of support, but so many of these people don’t and if we don’t help them, many of them will starve.”
The social entrepreneur has decided to step up his social work by helping those who are without income and has had many friends and family from the UK getting in touch with donations, so they can directly reach those in need, without any red tape or commissions.
If you want to help or donate you can do so by either sending a donation via the Just Giving page https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/vaseem-kader?utm_term=Q43pBB74W or directly via bank transfer to Starling Bank Maheshkumar Shah A/c 60828114 60-83-71 IBAN: GB12SRLG60837160828114 SWIFT/BIC: SRLGGB2L
Vaseem has a message to British people and that is to appreciate what you have. He said: “You are so lucky and should really be thankful for what you have. You have free education, NHS and a great welfare system. Don’t take anything for granted. Stay safe.”