India’s COVID-19 crisis prompts GSS response

banner image

A thoughtful get well card from a nurse at Bright Vision Hospital, Singapore. This gesture really kept my spirit up so could recover faster to assist others

2 June 2021

Graduate student, Rishika Madan, had to spend her first NUS semester remotely in India. As a new student, COVID-19 has disrupted her plans of studying in Singapore. A survivor who had COVID-19 twice, she writes reflexively and shares her journey with fellow students.


A 3-Generation family in my hometown – a grandmother, her son and her grandson – were infected with COVID-19 and were in dire need of oxygen. Due to availability of only two oxygen cylinders, they were unable to provide oxygen to the grandmother and she succumbed to the infection shortly after. This story illustrates the condition of millions of people in India during the ongoing pandemic where their loved ones are dying due to the lack of hospital beds and medical equipment.

My mother works as a front-line medical professional at the hospital meant that my family was at a higher risk of exposure to the COVID-19 virus. We were infected in September 2020 and it was a hard time for all of us. Our days were full of anxieties and fears. Despite the uncertainties, we were fortunate that our symptoms were mild. Access to good healthcare facilities also helped in our recoveries, which people in India have no access to.

I was looking forward to my studies with NUS but due to travel restrictions in August 2020, I had spent the first semester in India. In February 2021, I finally landed in Singapore in the middle of my second semester. To my dismay, on the last of my 14-day Stay-Home Notice, I was tested positive for COVID-19 again. As a foreigner in a new country who had spent the last two weeks in isolation, I was mentally and physically drained with feelings of loneliness, anger and worry.

I was transferred to Bright Vision hospital and initially thought that I was profoundly unlucky with my reinfection. What I realised much later was how lucky I was to have my hospital bill covered by my student insurance. I had access to robust medical care in Singapore and recovered soon again.

Juxtaposing what happened with me compared to the situation with millions of people in India made me conscious of my privilege –  access to good healthcare both times. Hearing many such horrifying stories was heart-breaking and I wanted to help in my capacity. As an Executive Committee member of the NUS Graduate Students’ Society (GSS), I found the appropriate platform to do so.

Mission India, a Fundraising Activity by GSS

With support from the Office of Student Affairs, GSS collaborated with TIE Singaporea non-profit organisation for entrepreneurs in Asia, on Mission India. The project is a fundraiser which aims to raise USD 1 Million towards procuring medical equipment such as oxygen concentrators and building medical infrastructure in India. I’m proud to be a member of GSS who is helping the initiative by fundraising and promoting the cause to the NUS community.

I mobilised a team of 12 passionate student volunteers and we reached out to staff and students. In unity, we worked towards our common goal of fighting the pandemic.


GSS Goodie Bag Giveaway at UTown, 6 May. Students queuing to collect their goodie bags and to learn more about Mission India.

Right: Instagram post from @nusgss
Middle: Instagram post from @nusgss
Left: Instagram Post from @kimberlygao0114

On 6 May, we organised the Goodie Bag Giveaway where we engaged with over 200 students to promote the cause and request for donations. We still have a long way to go as India's COVID-19 caseload continues to surge and the numbers of deaths are still rising on a steep trajectory. I strongly urge you to contribute to this initiative and help India during this time of crisis.

Donate now:


Rishika Madan, Graduate student, Faculty of Science
Assistant General Secretary,  35th ExCo, NUS Graduate Students’ Society 2020-2021