From 7am until well after dark, seven days a week, N. Sudhakar sits behind the counter at his hole-in-the-wall grocery store in the southern Indian city of Bangalore. Packed floor to ceiling with everything from 20-kilogram bags of rice to one-rupee ($0.01) shampoo bags, this one-stop shop supplies most of the daily needs for many in the neighborhood. It is a copy of the approximately 12 million family-run “Kiranas” that can be found on almost every street corner in India.
The store is on a busy street in the Whitefield area, formerly a quiet suburb but now a major hub for the city’s booming IT industry. Towering behind his shop are apartment blocks housing hundreds of workers in the technology parks that dominate the area.
Today, the same technology industry that made Sudhakar’s business a success presents a new challenge to businesses like his. Across the street, a steady stream of delivery drivers queue up to get groceries from a “dark shop” — a mini-warehouse in the heart of the city built by Dunzo, a Bangalore-based startup, to enable ultra-fast deliveries .
In India’s megacities, years of aggressive marketing, steep discounts from e-commerce players like Amazon and homegrown Flipkart, and a heavy dose of Covid lockdowns have hooked the urban middle class to online shopping. These shoppers make up a fraction of the population, but their purchasing power is considerable, and in affluent major cities the battle for India’s street corner is in full swing. Read the full story.
– Ed Gent
The must reads
I’ve scoured the internet to find today’s funniest/important/scary/fascinating stories about technology.
1 US children under the age of five are eligible for Covid vaccines starting today
That means almost all Americans will have access to vaccines. (NYT$)
+ Here are some of the possible mild side effects they may experience. (CNN)
+ Why toddlers who already have Covid still need vaccinations. (Time)
2 Canada bans single-use plastics
Starting in six months. (The guard)
+ Similarly, Wales is considering banning single-use carrier bags and wet wipes. (BBC)
+ An alternative to plastic sheeting could be a spray-on plant coating. (engadget)
+ A French company is using enzymes to recycle one of the most common single-use plastics. (MIT Technology Review)
3 China collects even more personal data than we thought
Including “vote-trapping” the public to strengthen their government’s authoritarian rule. (NYT$)
4 Google search isn’t what it used to be
Wading through ads and fewer blogs feels more sterile and less human. (The Atlantic $)
+ A whole lot of people are googling “bitcoin is dead” right now. (coin telegraph)
5 We need to be smarter about how we use AI to tackle climate change
Renewable energy is one area that could benefit from simpler systems. (Spectrum IEEE)
+ Renewable energy certificates can overstate companies’ environmental efforts. (ABC)
+ Renewable energies will increase sharply. (MIT Technology Review)
6 Meta’s virtual reality headsets are pretty boring
But the company is hell-bent on making a usable headset a reality. (The edge)
+ The Metaverse is looking pretty impractical at the moment. (WP$)
+ It also has a tactile problem. (MIT Technology Review)
+ That’s why it’s important that we all use the same terms when we talk about it. (Fast company $)
7 In order to decolonize the AI, we need to dismantle it
And install continuous monitoring by regulators. (Neo Life)
+ AI creates a new colonial world order. (MIT Technology Review)
8 We still don’t know why the sea glows milky green
But going into space might shed some light. (Hakai Magazine)
9 Internet Explorer is gone, but not forgotten
Some parts of the internet still rely on it. (wired$)
10 How Tech Workers Prey on Failed Startups
Top tip: Don’t get a tattoo of your company logo. (The information $)
quote of the Day