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How India’s COVID crisis is impacting Americans of South Asian descent

April 30, 2021, 12:45 PM UTC

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Michele Buck’s Hershey is on a hot streak, female ambassadors in the U.K. achieve a milestone, and women founders reflect on the COVID crisis in India. Have a restful weekend!

– Eyes on India. Seeing the devastating spike in COVID-19 cases in India would be horrifying no matter what. But for those of us watching from the U.S., the tragedy feels particularly unfair—we have the sheer luck of the draw to be living in a country finally starting to throw off its pandemic shackles, just as another nation faces its most intense virus fight yet.

For those with close ties to India, that feeling is a gut-punch. Emma spoke to a number of Indian-American female founders (and other businesswomen of South Asian descent) about their experiences of following the unfolding crisis from half a world away.

Prerna Gupta, founder and CEO mobile media app Hooked, is worried about not just her New Delhi- and Mumbai-based extended family, but her company’s India-based employees. “On the one hand, [here in the U.S.] you feel like, ‘wow it’s over,’ and free,” she says. “Then the next day, you hear all this crazy stuff happening in India.” She noted that the lockdowns have a particularly stark effect in the country because of infrastructure issues: “Being able to go into the office is much, much more important to have access to high-speed internet and reliable electricity.”

ClassPass founder Payal Kadakia tells Emma that her extended family in and around Mumbai is “just scared.” GAP CEO Sonai Syngal didn’t comment directly, but the company said it’s working to support its almost-1,000 India-based employees with medical insurance, sick leave, and an eventual vaccine task force.

Seema Bansal, founder of the florist business Venus Et Fleur, called on all of us to pay attention to the Indian crisis, not tune it out as our own daily focus on the virus becomes less intense. “As Indian-Americans, we are doing all that we can to use our voice and resources to support, educate, donate and raise awareness of the worsening COVID crisis in India.”

After all, this pandemic is not yet over—and until it is, no nation is safe. “It feels like a replay of what happened when we first started hearing about China—people thinking, ‘Oh, it’s so far away, and it’s never going to get here,'” says Gupta. “I hope we learned something from that. We are all connected.”

Kristen Bellstrom
kristen.bellstrom@fortune.com
@
kayelbee

The Broadsheet, Fortune’s newsletter for and about the world’s most powerful women, is coauthored by Kristen Bellstrom, Emma Hinchliffe, and Claire Zillman. Today’s edition was curated by Claire Zillman. 

ALSO IN THE HEADLINES

- Chocolate on-the-go. Hershey is on a hot streak. The sweets company on Thursday raised its sales forecast for the year to a range of 4% to 6% as it released solid first-quarter earnings. CEO Michele Buck says the company is getting a boost not just from at-home indulgence. "We’re seeing this unique period where there is both a continuance of that at-home consumer behavior, as well as increasing away-from-home behavior,” she said. CNBC

- Carlson vs. Goldman. Goldman Sachs on Thursday encountered an unexpected antagonist at its annual meeting: Gretchen Carlson. The #MeToo figure and former Fox News anchor urged fellow shareholders to vote for a measure on this year's proxy that would force the bank to disclose how mandatory arbitration affects its staff and workplace. The proposal was defeated but won support from 49% of shareholders. Bloomberg

- Post up. The U.K. has appointed Menna Rawlings as its ambassador to France, the first woman to hold that post. That means that women now represent the U.K. in all G7 countries, a significant achievement for Boris Johnson's government, which has otherwise been criticized as "incredibly blokey." Guardian

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Michelle Boone, Chicago's former commissioner of cultural affairs, has been named president of the Poetry Foundation. Signify Health added Heather Dixon, Walgreens Boots Alliance chief accounting officer, to its board. 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

- Child care as infrastructure. In the pandemic, Quebec's child care centers survived—and some of them even thrived. What set these center apart from others in Canada is their funding model that treats child care like—you guessed it—infrastructure. "Child care is an area where private markets don’t do a very good job,” said Pierre Fortin, a University of Quebec at Montreal economist who's studied Quebec’s system. Bloomberg

- Must-see TV. Hong Kong has a new TV star who's a familiar face. Chief executive Carrie Lam's new talk show debuted on Wednesday on public broadcasting. Its riveting title: Get to Know the Election Committee Subsectors. The show is a new platform for Lam to champion the electoral changes introduced by Beijing that further sideline pro-democracy voices. Washington Post 

- Where are the women? Japan's newest foreign CEO is pointing out some of the glaring shortcomings of Japanese corporate culture. “I’ve been to 25, 30, 40 meetings so far, and I have yet to see one woman from a management position in any of these meetings,” said Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings CEO Jean-Marc Gilson “I was amazed.” He says in the absence of government intervention, he'll push within his company to promote qualified women. Bloomberg

ON MY RADAR

Did home economics empower women? The New Yorker

The women’s recession isn’t over—especially for moms The 19th

Child care is a business issue HBR

The misunderstood first 100 days of Kamala Harris Politico

PARTING WORDS

"The Internet is big. Whether you’re having a good experience or a bad experience, you kind of just have to make the most of it."

-Zoë Roth, better known as 'Disaster Girl,' who sold an NFT of her famous meme for $500,000. 

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