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Photograph: Courtesy Noah Fecks

Some of the world’s best Indian restaurants are teaming up to raise money for Covid relief

Buy dinner from a participating restaurant to fund on-the-ground initiatives in India

Morgan Olsen
Written by
Morgan Olsen

As a second wave of Covid-19 continues to wreak havoc on India, hospital beds are maxed out and medical oxygen supplies are running dangerously low. And while new cases have been declining for the past two weeks, deaths are still on the rise. Plainly put, it's a humanitarian crisis we should all care about – no matter where you live.

If you're looking for a meaningful way to help right now, it could be as easy as ordering dinner. Grassroots campaign 1 Billion Breaths For India launches this weekend with the goal of raising $500,000 for tangible, on-the-ground Covid relief. How? With help from some of the best Indian restaurants in the world.

Organizer Basu Ratnam – the founder of INDAY eateries in New York – has enlisted nearly 30 Indian restaurants across North America to help him raise funds to support Oxygen for India and Give India Oxygen, two foundations that support local healthcare systems through the vital chemical element.

‘It all came together really quickly,’ Ratnam says. ‘I saw what was happening in India, and I think I felt what’s being called “survivor’s guilt” as well as an overwhelming sense of agony.’

So Ratnam picked up the phone and started calling the owners of Indian restaurants in the United States and Canada to ask if they'd be willing to help. He made nearly 30 phone calls and didn't get a single ‘no.’

From Sunday, May 23 through Saturday, May 29, participating restaurants will be dishing out special meals (around $50 each) with all proceeds benefiting 1 Billion Breaths for India. The activation includes top-rated Indian restaurants like Gupshup in New York City, Superkhana in Chicago, Curryish in Toronto, Badmaash in Los Angeles and Ghee Indian Kitchen in Miami. Take a look at the full lineup below:

And he's not stopping there. After the North American event wraps, Ratnam will take the 1 Billion Breaths initiative to the UK before hosting an in-person block party in New York City in mid-June. There are plenty of ways to support India through this devastating crisis, but for Ratnam, it always comes back to food.

‘Food is so elemental to how we come together as communities,’ he says. ‘And in our culture – Indian culture – we express love through food. For me, it always felt like a really natural connection, because it's in our blood. Hospitality is the same way: in times of crisis, we feed people.’

Follow the campaign on Instagram for additional information and upcoming lineups in the UK and New York. Then, plan to squeeze in dinner out next week – it shouldn't be hard with so many amazing Indian restaurants to choose from.

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