Startup ecosystem leads battle against the second wave of corona virus

By  Rajiv Mathur, Managing Director, The Fuel Delivery
June 27 2021: After a COVID-marred 2020, India witnessed a promising start to 2021 characterised by rapid rebounding of the economy. The reopening of offices, public places and retail establishments came as a waft of fresh breeze after a prolonged nationwide lockdown. The pandemic seemed a tale of the past, and leading economic research consultancies expressed confidence in the economic growth. Oxford Economics predicted the Indian economic growth to be 11.8%, while CRISIL pegged it at 11% for FY 2021-22.  However, the second wave of coronavirus in March 2021 caught the economy off guard, derailing the recovery in Q1 2021.
With an average of over three lakh cases daily, the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic brought untold hardships for patients and their families. The pandemic has redefined the world like never before:
From 2020, the Work from Home(WFH) model and online learning has become the norm amid the travel restrictions. In-store purchases have given way to video shopping, and face-to-face meetings have been replaced by videoconferencing over Zoom or Skype.  An undercurrent of these trends is the acceleration of digitisation, wherein emerging technologies have played a pivotal role in sustaining the momentum.
The magnitude of fatalities and devastation caused by the pandemic has led to several stakeholders rising to the crisis and augmenting government efforts to tackle the onslaught of the disease. The pandemic prompted firms to reinvent their organisational strategies and operational structure to navigate this unprecedented time. The urgency to fight the pandemic spurred out-of-the-box thinking and fostered innovation to combat the challenges arising from the crisis.
The corporate sector  demonstrated an exemplary spirit to alleviate the hardships of patients since the first wave of coronavirus. The second wave witnessed corporate going the extra mile by leveraging the power of collaboration and crowdsourcing to arrest the surge in cases within few months. Several firms scaled up the capacity building by turning their premises into COVID care centres and donating necessary medical equipment to tide over their shortage. Startups have been at the helm of innovation by undertaking path-breaking initiatives. Most of the startups leveraged their expertise to diversify into the healthcare domain and overhaul their existing structure. Indian startups developed several products such as anti-microbial coatings, UV sterilisation systems, drones to enforce adherence to social distancing and much more.
It is noteworthy that the second wave of coronavirus witnessed firms breaking their traditional mould and restructuring their existing models to steer through the crisis. From COWIN slot finder tools, AI-powered chatbot for free flow of information, source-based oxygen concentrators, super protective masks and doorstep delivery of fuel, the innovation during the second wave knew no bounds.
Undoubtedly, government initiatives have provided the groundwork for innovation. The Department of Science and Technology is encouraging startups to develop technologies in oxygen innovation, portable solution, relevant medical accessories, diagnostic, informatics to tackle various challenges induced by the second wave of coronavirus as part of its initiative called NIDHI4COVID2.0.
Earlier, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) announced the revised guidelines for the BPO and IT Enabled Services (ITES) sector to reduce the compliance burden for the industry and facilitate 'Work from Home' and 'Work from Anywhere. These new guidelines have provided the much-needed impetus to the BPO sector and will also significantly enhance ease of doing business.
Several states also stepped forward to bolster these efforts of the central government. For instance, the Kerala government launched an app, GoK-Kerala Direct, that sends COVID-19 updates and travel information in English and Malayalam via phone messages to cater to the population without smartphones.
A salient feature of the fight against COVID-19 was the shared purpose and concerted collaboration among various stakeholders across industries to win the battle against COVID-19. New models and products have come to the fore, and groundwork during the pandemic has laid the blueprint to anticipate and tackle such crises in future. The key here is to sustain this out-of-the-box mindset to solve global challenges. With the advantages of demographic dividend, conducive policy framework and burgeoning startups and SMEs, India is poised to emerge at the global centre stage by catalysing entrepreneurship and innovation. 

The author is a seasoned professional with 30 years experience in Business Management & Operations, Technology Solutions, Brand Building, Security and Emergency Response.
The Fuel Delivery (TFD) is an endeavour to largely solve the issue of managing  fuel requirement efficiently, cost effectively and  safely.