As India completed day 5 of the 21-day lockdown to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic, there hasn’t been much in the way of good news. The coronavirus positive cases have crossed over 1100 with over 25 deaths on March 29. But at the same time, help has been coming in from all corners of the world and Indian startups continue to come together as a community to help solve the crisis.
Alibaba founder Jack Ma has sent forward donation of urgent medical supplies to India. India along with six other countries has received a total of 1.7 Mn face masks, 165K test kits as well as protective clothing and medical equipment such as ventilators and forehead thermometers.
Government Funds, Apps To The Rescue
In India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced PM-CARES programme under which people across the country can donate towards fighting the crisis of coronavirus. Amid celebrity donations, startups have also pooled in funds and are encouraging users to donate further towards the cause. Yesterday, PhonePe had announced INR 100 Cr pledge to offer INR 10 cashback to every user who donates to PM CARES fund. The company said it crossed INR 11 Cr in donations and reached almost 5 lakh donors in 24 hours.
Similarly, Paytm is aiming to contribute INR 500 Cr to the PM-CARES fund. For every contribution or any other payment made on Paytm using the wallet, UPI and Paytm Bank debit card, the company will contribute an extra up to INR 10.
Further, Kotak Mahindra Bank announced an immediate commitment of INR 25 Cr towards PM CARES Fund and INR 10 Cr to Maharashtra Chief Minister’s Relief Fund – COVID 19. Further, chairman Uday Kotak announced a personal commitment of INR 25 Cr to the PM CARES Fund.
Further, the government is building two apps to track Covid-19 infection paths. The first app, Corona Kavach, is built by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and the second, CoWin-20, is being built by NITI Aayog.
The central government has set up 11 empowered groups for ensuring a comprehensive and integrated response to Covid-19. “These groups have been set up under the Disaster Management Act. Each group has a senior representative from PMO & Cabinet Secretariat to ensure seamless coordination,” ANI tweeted.
The government has also set up a mental health helpline, which will be operated by NIMHANS, Bengaluru. The toll-free helpline has been set up for people who may face any mental health issue due to the lockdown in place due to coronavirus.
A fund has also been set up LocoNav to collect and raise funds to provide aid such as food, water, essential items, etc. to truck drivers in need. So far, the funds collected have benefitted over 250 truck drivers in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand by safely delivering food and other essential items to them. The company has also set up a 24*7 emergency helpline number.
Startup’s Hunt For Solutions
To further augment for solutions, Marico Innovation Foundation has launched #Innovate2BeatCOVID – a nationwide hunt for innovative solutions for coronavirus. Marico Innovation Foundation is calling upon Medtech entrepreneurs, corporates and innovators who can solve the med-tech challenges. Marico Innovation Foundation and ATE Chandra Foundation and Harsh Mariwala are offering a grant of INR 2.5 Cr for the innovations.
Solutions for coronavirus are already coming up from startups. Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan tweeted that Fablab has come up with a respiratory device called Respiratory Assistant that automates the use of Ambu Bags and can be used for CMV and CSV. It allows doctors to set the tidal volume and respiratory rate. The Respiratory Assistant is also made of locally available components.
In Goa, MyClinikk is helping the government in launching teleconsultation service. This telephone-based service allows the patient to connect with specialists and avail instant treatment and advice, free of charge.
At the same time, at the forefront of the crisis, grocery delivery startup Grofers is now leveraging help from ecosystem players. Grofers CEO Albinder Dhindsa called for semi-skilled idle workers who can join Grofers warehouses to increase deliveries in all cities. Entrepreneurs are already stepping up to help Grofers and idle-workers are scooping up some extra income.
Further, the ministry of home affairs also finally clarified that transportation of essential as well as non-essential goods is allowed during the lockdown, which should help the supply chain get up and running.