Hope is the currency of faith

In a vast and diverse democracy such as India, I have always believed and said that religion is for the riches since their stomachs are well fed and always full.  Whereas the poor or the “have nots” first worry about earning their livelihood to feed their family.  It is this worry that coerces them to believe in something called religion that is otherwise interpreted and perpetuated by our great scholars.   Many institutions prosper and flourish in the name of religion because of poor and misinformed populates, it is time to put charity and kindness above all religions in the wake of Covid-19.

Just as Government of India was creative and bold enough to draw a one-time dividend from the Reserve Bank of India to fill-in fiscal deficit, I am sure that all the religious or sectoral institutions including temples, mosques, gurudwaras, churches etc. whether registered or not, can be made to participate in a 20-year government bond @ nominal interest from their treasury including gold and other assets.

Nobody knows the worth of the Vatican?  However, based on media reports the Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Thiruvanathapuram, India, is reported to have gold worth US$ 15 billion with one cellar yet to be opened.  Without adding wealth of other known residences of God, if we were to simply multiply this number with 5 i.e. number of major religions in India, we are talking about US$ 75 billion.  Even if we leave behind 25% for their administration and maintenance, we are looking at ~ US$ 55 billion gushing into the economy.  My trustee friends in these religious institutions need not worry since their cash boxes will keep receiving donations from the faithful including myself moment the lockdown eases.

A word of caution that these bonds are a loan to the Government of India (GoI) and not a one-time dividend.  It should be used for productive measures and creation of capital assets rather than for subsidy or direct benefit transfer (DBT).  The monies collected must be used for stimulating the economy, setting up healthcare facilities, decentralize and deconcentrate economic activities from urban to rural areas, build infrastructure, speed up migration of manufacturing facilities from China to India etc, ….perhaps the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister may add more here.  As long as the GDP grows by more than 3% yoy, the GoI should be able to repay these debts easily in a 20-year horizon.  If this were to be achieved, the PM can forego the idea of inheritance tax on us mortals forever; might as well use the inheritance left by the Gods.

I fail to understand why can’t all of humanity rise above religious inhibitions to feed the families just as Sikhism runs langar (community kitchen) or ISKCON runs meal program called Annamrita.  I am sure there are many other similar programs and good work being done elsewhere which I am not aware of.  But there is no point in keeping the assets of these institutions idle when they can be used as community kitchens or make-shift medical facilities or temporary shelter.

As I write and suggest this, there is a deep reservation in my mind due to the powerful lobby that controls such institutions as well as the political ramifications of doing something like this.  As I think more, I am reminded of a similar principle illustrated in a Akshay Kumar / Paresh Rawal Bollywood starrer movie – “OMG” which itself was an adaptation of a Gujarati play called “Kanji virrudh kanji”.  I only hope my cynicism is proved wrong.

Saumil Shah is a Mumbai-based Chartered Accountant. The above are his personal views.

DocsApp unveils Coronavirus Risk Scan for self-assessment

Bangalore, April 2020 DocsApp, the 24/7 digital healthcare platform, has launched a  Coronavirus Risk Assessment Tool to help individuals assess the level of possibility of them being affected. This innovative tool, based on simple inter-active questions, generates a risk score based on an individual’s symptoms. This will go a long way in bringing down an individual’s anxiety level, remove uncertainty and decrease the overall paranoia in the society at large. The fact that a person can have information about their level of risk and the possibility of being affected without stepping out of the house is not just convenient but also ensures the safety and social distancing. This tool will also go a long way in spreading appropriate awareness and battling ignorance associated with this pandemic.

Mr. Satish Kannan, Co-Founder & CEO DocsApp said, “With the current scenario, we as a  pioneer in online doctor consultation, felt it was our responsibility to empower everyone to stay ahead of the curve in terms of understanding their potential risk as well as providing authentic and validated information. Hence, Coronavirus Risk Scan Tool which is an easy and important first step for an individual to know the risk she or he is exposed to which in turn will allow a decision on appropriate next steps to be made.”

To avail the facility, users need to click on the following link and answer a set of questions to generate their respective risk scores. Link- covid19.docsapp.in

DocsApp is a 24×7 digital healthcare platform that connects patients to specialist doctors through chat, call and video. The mobile and web-based platform offers doctor consultations on the go. Established by ex IITians, Satish Kannan and Enbasekar Dinadayalane, DocsApp leverages technology to provide quality healthcare to millions of Indians without any geographical constraints. It is headquartered in Bangalore.

Since its inception in 2015, the app has acquired a user base of 10 million+ Indians and provides 2,00,000+ consultations per month across the country. DocsApp connects patients to specialist doctors across 20 departments such as Dermatology, Weight management, Sexology and more. The App facilitates 5000+ experienced MD doctors who provide consultation to patients via chat, video or voice call.  DocsApp even allows patients to order medicines and book lab tests. The Company has raised $10.1 million till now from Bessemer Venture Partners, Rebright Partners, TechMatrix Corporation, DeNA networks and Facebook’s angel investors, InnoVen Capital, Anand Rajaraman and Venky Harinarayan.

Zapzapmath offer for schools, teachers worldwide

Kuala Lumpur, MALAYSIA, April, 2020 – Zapzapmath, a brand under Visual Math Interactive Sdn. Bhd. has announced free premium subscription of its Zapzapmath School, a game-based application, to schools and teachers around the world. Zapzapmath School is for children of ages 6 to 12, or those in kindergarten all the way to 6th grade. The free subscription allows teachers and students full access to all features within the application including 180 mathematical games. The offer is available from now until the end of July 2020.

John Ng Wei Chong, CEO of Zapzapmath said, “The Covid-19 pandemic has a profound impact on the world community. In some countries, we are seeing schools ordered to close by the government to help control the spread of the coronavirus. We’ve decided to offer free subscription for Zapzapmath School to help teachers who have concerns over their students’ learning progress and ability to catch up when schools reopen.”

Zapzapmath School provides analytical reports for teachers to monitor the progress of their students individually or collectively. They can also use a dashboard to monitor multiple classrooms at any given time.

“Students can enjoy highly interactive math games and puzzles that are aligned with international curricula at the comfort of their homes,” John continued.

One of the key features of Zapzapmath School is a reward system, where students can redeem and personalize their own spaceship using coins that they have earned from completing math games.

Students can download Zapzapmath School for use on mobile devices including tablets and smartphones. Alternatively, they may use the application through a web browser on a laptop or desktop computer. The application makes it fun and easy to learn math.

Zapzapmath School is a game-based e-learning application dedicated to children of ages 6 (kindergarten) until 12 years (grade 6), and it is based on international standards. The application contains an Adaptive Learning algorithm that changes the level of difficulty according to the students’ progress. In addition, the application also incorporates problem-solving puzzles to cultivate Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS). It is available in five languages – Bahasa Malaysia, English, Mandarin, Spanish and Russian.

Teachers who are interested in taking advantage of the free subscription until July may go to https://www.zapzapmath.com/school to sign up and start using all the premium features for FREE for as long as the promotion period.

Founded in 2015, Zapzapmath develops gamified math learning applications for children of the ages 6 to 12. It was co-founded by Hong Kong-based Max Teh Kim Seng and John Ng Wei Chong. Max Teh is Chairman of Netrove Venture Capital with more than 20 years of experience building and investing in startups with a multiple triple-digit IRR exits track record. Max is the visionary behind the ecosystem. Meanwhile, John Ng Wei Chong is a former Singapore math teacher and at Zapzapmath heads product and engineering, as well as being the brain behind the product architecture and content.

Zapzapmath is a brand under Visual Math Interactive Sdn. Bhd. based in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia. www.zapzapmath.com.

What the pandemic means for brands, influencer marketing

We’re swimming in uncharted waters. The SARS-CoV-2 has turned the world as we know it upside down and yet in the chaos is an opportunity. The chain of events that have caused it may not be palatable, but it is there nonetheless – an unprecedented reach to consumers through influencers.

The COVID-19 Curve Ball
In the past month, the efficacy of OOH advertising has essentially dropped to nil in India because the entirety of the nation is bound-to-home. Even adverts during traditional TV content is out for a toss because soaps, movies, and events are on an indefinite pause.

This has left brands struggling to find some means of remaining top-of-mind. The singular and not surprising solution is social media and the creators who hold sway on it.

Why the Aberrant Rise of Influencers?
With conventional means of entertainment not working, there’s an exponential growth in screen times see. More and more people look towards creators as a source of relief, information on the pandemic, and, of course, an entertainment outlet.

The sudden change in consumer behaviour is the foundation for the rise of creators. What pushed it forward was their intuitive understanding of where they fit into their audience’s life during the crisis. Being particularly equipped to adapt to situations, they adjusted accordingly.

For instance, fashion creators innately knew that promoting a cocktail dress, or for that matter any other such product, is irrelevant. They altered course and began amplifying life-saving information or content that helped lighten the mood and made their audience feel good.

Keeping up with the current needs of their followers is one reason why creators are making headway even when the majority of the world is at a standstill. Another is their extreme adaptability when it comes to content.

The Varied Landscape of Online Content
Creators read the writing on the wall and adapted their content to it. The first big surge was live-streams. From workouts to concerts, from DJs to chefs, creators from all walks of life logged on to Instagram live because it allowed them to interact with their audience and be together even in quarantine.

Next came purpose-driven campaigns. Creators used their reach to spread awareness on how to flatten the curve, support organisations and charities helping doctors, nurses and every other professional on the front line.

The final trend is solution-based content. Influencers are now publishing content that helps followers, ranging from self-help videos to tutorial-style guides. They are also producing content that is fun, enjoyable and helps pass the time.

What Should Brands Do?
Creators, with their real, unfiltered content that echoes the needs of their audience, are a valuable resource for brands. Now is the right time to reallocate marketing spend and leverage the authenticity and flexibility of influencer marketing campaigns but with certain caveats.

Don’t force-fit the brand
One impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic is that true colours are coming out. If a creator has always believed in something, they are continuing to do so in spite of the lockdown.  For instance, a person who loves working out, found alternatives and began exercising at home.

Brands should leverage these creators because they are relatable to the audience, as long as they fit the company’s image. Do not choose a creator merely based on their follower count or reach, assess if they have been passionate about your product or service and then march ahead.

Don’t come off tone-deaf
The downside of more content consumption is more monitoring. The consumer is not only reading, watching or listening to your content but also judging its tone. Even a minute mistake will turn egregious during this pandemic, so have a human element to all brand messages and be extremely sensitive to the mood.

Don’t cling to guidelines
A crisis requires a nuanced working, which is rarely, if ever, possible when you adhere to strict brand guidelines. So, the last caveat for brands jumping into an influencer marketing campaign right now is to give the creator leeway.

The current content creation cycle is taking place entirely at home, trust the creator to see it through. Aim to collaborate, rather than hiring a creator. Take a cue from Cosmopolitan India’s Work from Home Issue which was styled, conceptualised and art directed solely by a creator.

Influencers: More Relevant Than Ever Before
Living in isolation has sent people searching for a sense of community and the one resource that allows it is social platforms. In the coming time, expect them to become the most potent tool for maintaining connections. And when that happens, bank on relevant influencers to dominate it.

Ankit Agarwal is the Founder of Do Your Thing (DYT). https://doyourthng.com/