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  • Surviving COVID-19: ‘You rip off the band-aid’Ashish K. Mishra
    Surviving COVID-19: ‘You rip off the band-aid’Saving lives is the topmost priority. So it is understandable that a lot of focus is on social distancing and isolation to stop the rapid growth of the novel coronavirus. Already, the number of infections outside China, where the virus originated, is peaking at an alarming rate. So much so that Europe is now being viewed as the new epicentre of the pandemic. But even as all of this has been happening, voices are starting to emerge on the impact of the coronavirus on the economy, and on companies. Public markets across the world are volatile, and depending on who you ask, you’ll get a version of hope or doom. Along with the aviation business which clearly is reeling from the frontal impact of travel bans, I think travel companies, many of whom are dependent on people moving around for work or leisure, are the worst hit. Last week, I reached out to one of the co-founders of a travel company, someone who has built a robust, differentiated business. “How are things?” I asked. This is what came back:
  • The COVID-19 Report: Gig economy, groundedPradip K. Saha
    The COVID-19 Report: Gig economy, groundedWe don’t have a paywall for most of our stories on Coronavirus and its impact. Support us and subscribe here. Rajendra Singh is sitting inside his white Maruti Suzuki Wagon R, his seat reclined and his feet sticking out of the driver-side window. He’s watching a Hindi movie on his mobile phone, half of his face covered by a handkerchief. Every once in a while, he looks up at the device […]
  • The COVID-19 reading list you won’t find elsewherePranav S.
    The COVID-19 reading list you won’t find elsewhereIt has been a tumultuous week, to say the least. Business and livelihoods across the board have been disrupted, even more so with India now in a lockdown. We’ve covered this over the past few days in our special series of reports on the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve published half a dozen of these stories this week, plus another two last week. Today, instead of inundating you with more of our work, we have put together a selection of some of the best writing on and around the coronavirus outbreak, from India and the world over. It’s a fairly short list—five excellent stories—because even stuck at home, we believe your time is precious. Hopefully, these stories will help both in understanding what is happening and in coping with it.
  • COVID-19: Bittersweet aid from Chinese in the USFrankie Huang
    COVID-19: Bittersweet aid from Chinese in the USWe don’t have a paywall for most of our stories on Coronavirus and its impact. Support us and subscribe here. For the past two months, Chinese organizations and individuals in the US have sent countless parcels of supplies over land and sea to the coronavirus outbreak epicentre in Wuhan, as well as to other provinces with smaller clusters. But as the situation in China began to stabilize, it became more apparent […]
  • The pandemic will redefine fintech lendingVardhan Koshal
    The pandemic will redefine fintech lending The transfer of money from me to you and you to me is what greases the wheels of the modern economic machine. We earn, we spend, and then, most importantly, we borrow to spend some more right now, betting on earning more later. Salaries and profits fuel deposits and capital, which get routed into credit, which drives consumption, resulting in the vital rotation of money. Over the past five years or so, India has seen a flurry of startups emerge promising to usher in a new wave of technology- and data-led lending. Venture capital tracking platform Traxcn lists 484 “alternative lending” startups in India, thanks to the easy availability of liquidity and rising consumption across segments. App after app proffered credit at a tap, each targeting a niche of an increasingly internet-connected population; many built large loan books in a short period of time on the back of aggressive segmentation and acquisition strategies. But in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and India’s lockdown, producers, makers, sellers and consumers are stuck across the economy. The holy flow of cash and credit is suffering heavily, resulting in one of the deepest economic impacts in the history of nations.
  • The COVID-19 Report: Indian restaurants run on fumesHarveen Ahluwalia
    The COVID-19 Report: Indian restaurants run on fumesWe don’t have a paywall for most of our stories on Coronavirus and its impact. Support us and subscribe here. It was the emptiness that crushed them first. Once bustling and overflowing with people, Indian restaurants had started to go quiet. The regulars stopped showing up sometime early in March. The sound of friends talking over drinks, waiters moving in and out of the kitchen, the smell of cut vegetables and […]
  • COVID-19 and the ecology of diseaseRoshni P. Nair
    COVID-19 and the ecology of diseaseViruses are intelligent. These co-passengers are seasoned travellers, having hitched rides for billions of years. But we take them for granted. This underestimation has led to a proliferation of zoonotic diseases (i.e. diseases that spread from animals to humans) over the last 30-odd years. At the time of writing this, there are 207,615 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, also called COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2, worldwide. Of these, 156 are in India. But these numbers will be dispatches from the past by the time this sentence ends. COVID-19 has disrupted the world as we know it. Man is no longer a social animal. Supply chains are crumbling, industries collapsing, elections are being postponed, sporting events called off and jobs guillotined. The debate about the zoonotic source of COVID-19 is ongoing, but chances are that it came from a reservoir of bats or pangolins. The frequency of zoonotic outbreaks and their proliferation⁠—whether malaria, Japanese encephalitis, Ebola, SARS, etc.⁠—are concurrent with increased habitat loss, ecosystem imbalance and poor urban planning. All compounded by faster spillover in a globalized world. ...
  • COVID-19 isn’t quite retail’s demonetization momentSaif Iqbal
    COVID-19 isn’t quite retail’s demonetization momentAs mom-and-pop neighbourhood stores scaled down over the past few weeks and white-collar workers began working from homes, organized retail—from e-commerce to brick-and-mortar chains—has seen booming demand. Now that India has entered a nationwide lockdown and inter- and intra-city transportation has ground to a halt, the consumer’s dependence on these two channels is set to increase further. We are in the middle of what has widely been construed the “demonetization […]
  • COVID-19: Medical devices need your attentionT Surendar
    COVID-19: Medical devices need your attention

    Standing on the porch of the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Mumbai suburbs, Diwakar Vaish, co-founder of Noida-based AgVa Healthcare, was trying to catch the attention of software industry executives. This is at the annual conference hosted by IT trade body Nasscom. Vaish’s stall was a side-show for startups to exhibit digital technologies in the healthcare sector. 

    On a cool, breezy February day, the atmosphere was nothing as grim you would expect in a hospital emergency ward. Vaish's rig, comprising an iPad-like device on a short steel column mounted on wheels with dangling wires, was a cost-effective version of a ventilator used in critical care. There wasn’t much excitement about his solution, as few executives really understood the medical problem he aimed to solve.

    Today, a robotic engineer by training, Vaish is super busy. 

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