Good morning,

This is Shephali, ETtech’s culture reporter.

On Monday, we wrote about how the pandemic has inadvertently led to the humbling of the humblebrag.

Amid the devastating second wave of Covid-19, a lot of people in urban India are being considerate of the grief that has struck people around them, even as they are tempted to take to social media to share with their network just how hashtag blessed they are!

Result: Many are avoiding sharing any celebratory posts on social networks so as not to seem tone-deaf and insensitive. This includes not broadcasting their promotion or new job updates, fitness goal achievements, chilling in Goa scenes, you get the drift.

Humblebrag

People, who otherwise concerned themselves with how others will ‘react to’ their posts, are now thinking about how others will ‘feel’ upon seeing their posts online.

And even though we thought that this underreporting of … accomplishments (why, what did you think?) was unique to the Indian urban class at home and outside, the internet taught us we’re not alone in this (either).

Shortly after the story was out, we got an overwhelming response from people around the world telling us they had felt this, too.

“My friends here in Hong Kong, where life is relatively back to “normal”, tell me they also feel guilty about sharing celebratory posts and highlights over concerns of rubbing it in to people living in countries (like India) still battling with surging cases,” Sareena Dayaram, a senior journalist based in Hong Kong, wrote to us on Twitter.


“This downplay is also common among diaspora from economically troubled countries,” said Annalisa Fernandez, a cross-cultural communication strategist from New York.

For instance, “you don’t see a lot of Venezuelans abroad posting birthday celebrations.”

Like India, Venezuela, too, has seen a sudden spike in new cases and fatalities related to Covid-19 in the last few weeks.


The same change in trends, motivations and behaviour “was observed on Instagram in Sri Lanka after the April 2019 Easter Sunday terrorist attacks” that jolted the country, shared Sanjana Hattotuwa, a public policy researcher from our neighbouring island country, who is now based in New Zealand.


Sad on some level that it takes a mass tragedy for people to be mindful of how their social media activity affects those around them.

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Nonetheless, to all those who sacrificed their dopamine levels to show solidarity for their friends battling with plummeting oxygen levels, here’s a 👍🏼 for you.

Over to my colleague and good friend Vikas SN to take you through the week’s most important stories


E-COMMERCE SURGE AND DELAYED DELIVERIES

Online Pharma

India’s online pharmacy sector is witnessing a huge increase in orders for medical devices, personal protective equipment (PPE), health supplements and commonly available drugs, amid the second wave of the pandemic in the country. Lockdown curbs along with high caseloads in cities is driving up sales by 25-65% for online pharmacies, according to company executives and industry experts.

E-commerce deliveries

The rising demand for online groceries and other essentials is delaying the deliveries from large e-commerce firms such as Amazon, Flipkart, BigBasket and Grofers across the country, but especially in regions hit hardest by the second Covid-19 wave. Customers shopping on these platforms are seeing delivery timelines of 3-7 days, partly also due to a shortage of supply-chain staff.

  • E-commerce deliveries had seen similar delays around this time last year, during the nationwide lockdown. Thankfully, the supply of essential goods does not seem to be hugely affected this time around.

E-commerce firms like Grofers, Amazon and Flipkart are trying to woo offline merchants to join their platform as restrictions on physical outlets across states due to the second Covid-19 wave are hurting such sellers.

Amazon Prime Day sale postponed

Amazon has also postponed its flagship Prime Day sale in India and Canada due to a surge in Covid-19 cases across the country. It is scheduled to take place globally in June. No new date for the sale has been announced for India or Canada as yet. The event has been one of the key initiatives for the online retail giant to increase its Prime subscriber base, which recently crossed 200 million.

Meanwhile, Amazon’s India marketplace unit Amazon Seller Services has received a fresh capital infusion of Rs 915 crore led by Singapore-based Amazon Corporate Holdings and a token investment made by the parent entity Amazon.com Inc. This is the first investment Amazon has made in its India marketplace unit this year. It had last invested Rs 2,310 crore in Amazon Seller Services in June last year, soon after government-mandated lockdown had ended and the e-commerce sector was starting to see a strong recovery in sales.

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GETTING THE VACCINE JAB

Hunger Games

GIF Source: Giphy

India’s vaccination drive is turning out to be a real-life Hunger Games competition, with citizens using all the resources at their disposal to land that coveted vaccine slot.

Several techies tried to game the CoWin platform using automated scripts to book the vaccine slots quicker than people who accessed the website on their laptops or smartphones. The government later stepped in to restrict real-time access to appointment availability data through its APIs, apart from also adding a rate limit of 100 API calls per 5 minutes per IP.

On Friday, the government added an additional security layer to prevent misuse of vaccination slots. A four-digit pin number will be sent to the person going for the jab and will have to be verified before the vaccine is administered. Users will also have to enter a Captcha to book their vaccination slot.

Aarogya Setu

Meanwhile, users will soon be able to access their vaccination status on the Aarogya Setu contact tracing app. The feature is expected to be rolled out in the next one or two weeks. The government is also exploring whether contact tracing of people who have been fully vaccinated should be stopped since it does not want to unnecessarily keep tracking a person’s location as well as other details.

That said, India’s plan to use drones to deliver Covid-19 vaccines is still a distant dream as it may take at least a year due to a lack of legislation that permits long-range drone flights in the country, according to senior government officials.

STARTUPS, TECH FIRMS AID COVID RELIEF EFFORTS

Several top technology startups like Urban Company, Byju’s and Zomato have announced a range of initiatives to help employees and their families cope with medical emergencies and financial upheaval.

Logistics and supply chain startup Delhivery has helped to import 1,000 oxygen concentrators with 38,444 more expected to arrive through all of next week. Microsoft is working with other companies to provide 25,000 oxygen concentration devices to healthcare facilities in India. The tech giant has also raised over $3 million from its employees with a matching grant from the company.

Fintech company Paytm is setting up oxygen plants in 12-13 cities. The company is making donations to import these machines, which cost between Rs 50 lakh and Rs 1 crore per plant, through its foundation and will provide them free of cost to government hospitals.

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Prominent Silicon Valley venture capitalist Vinod Khosla has pledged $10 million to the online donations firm Give India Foundation to aid India’s Covid-19 fight.

Accenture has pledged $25 million towards pandemic relief efforts in India while Capgemini is committing Rs 50 crore to augment the medical infrastructure in the country.

Flipkart and Amazon have announced a slew of measures to support small businesses amid the pandemic.

ZOMATO EYES SECOND SHOT AT GROCERIES

Zomato Grofers

IPO-bound food delivery app Zomato is in talks to invest around $100 million in e-grocer Grofers. This move comes after a failed attempt at acquiring Grofers last year. The investment is likely part of a larger financing round and may value the Gurugram-based online grocery firm at around $1 billion, sources told ET.

Grofers is expected to scrap the IPO plan and continue to remain private, said another person in the know. The startup was exploring a listing on the tech-heavy Nasdaq in the US through a Cantor Fitzgerald blank check firm, as reported first by ET on February 24. Do read our explainer on the implications of this deal.

Grofers Shareholding

Here’s a quick look at the top funding deals this week

deals digest

OTHER BIG STORIES BY OUR REPORTERS

Dogecoin

Indian cryptocurrency exchanges are witnessing record-breaking trading volumes of Dogecoin, causing a massive surge in traffic on these platforms. We recently took a closer look at Dogecoin, a cryptocurrency that started as a joke in 2013 but is currently the world’s seventh-largest digital coin.The announcement comes after PUBG was banned along with other Chinese apps following a prolonged border standoff between the neighbours. Do read our explainer on the implication of PUBG’s India return and a timeline of its journey in the country so far.Private sector lenders IndusInd Bank, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank and Axis Bank are likely to go live with the framework by July this year.WhiteHat Jr had sent the legal notice to Poonia last November for allegedly defaming it and infringing on its ‘registered and unregistered trademarks’Mid-tier tech services firm LTI is betting big on its large deals in financial services and other industry sectors to maintain the higher growth momentum this financial year.

That’s about it from us this week. Stay safe and get vaccinated if you get the opportunity.





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