Mini-grid Services Continue to Drive Rural India’s Need for Reliable Power Supply During Lockdown – Smart Power India Survey

Smart Power India (SPI), a subsidiary of the Rockefeller Foundation today released the second edition of its survey titled ‘Impact of…

Smart Power India (SPI), a subsidiary of the Rockefeller Foundation today released the second edition of its survey titled ‘Impact of Post-COVID-19 Lockdown’. The survey was conducted in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar with a sample size of 358 consisting of households (29%), shops (43%) and rural enterprises (28%) from 15 April 2020 to 20 May 2020. The survey analyzes the impact of post-COVID-19 lockdown in the mini-grid villages and takes into consideration the overall perception around the stimulus package, availability of livelihood options, and the economic fallout of the lockdown on various mini-grid consumer segments.

Commenting on the second edition of the consumer survey, Jaideep Mukherji, CEO, Smart Power India, said, “Economic activities have continued to witness major drop in the mini-grid villages despite relaxations in lockdown guidelines. However, direct Government interventions in the form of the stimulus package, special support for small businesses and the distribution of free food grains have provided the much-needed relief to the people. But in order to ensure long-term sustainable development for rural India, basic amenities such reliable power, world class healthcare services and state-of-the-art infrastructure must be provided in the restoration process post-COVID-19.” The Survey further pointed out that in the absence of steady flow of income, rural households are mostly relying on Government support. Welfare initiatives such as PM Garib Kaylan Yojana, Jan Dhan Yojana, and old age pension funds are helping the mini-grid villages during the COVID-19-induced lockdown. Provision of free ration and cooking gas will play a crucial role in easing the economic burden on rural households in the short term. As a result, nearly 55% of the respondents have expressed satisfaction with the stimulus package announced by the Government. However, 11% of the respondents still felt Government’s relief measures are inadequate for supporting rural poor and reviving the economy.

Surprisingly, in sharp contrast to improved social hygiene behavior reported in the first edition of this survey, relaxations in lockdown guidelines have apparently led to a consistent fall in social hygiene practices in the mini-grid villages of UP and Bihar. Nearly 73% of respondents pointed to a significant drop in adoption of social hygiene practices since the first phase of lockdown. Social hygiene is based on respondent’s perception of adoption of face mask, social distancing, and frequent hand washing. The reduction in social hygiene is caused by relaxed lockdown norms. Availability of essential goods and services has seen significant improvements as compared to the first phase of the lockdown. However, cash flow in mini-grid villages continues to remain significantly low even as India has entered the fourth phase of lockdown with major relaxations.

When asked about the power supply in the villages, 70% of the respondents stated a drop in grid connected electricity supply in mini-grid villages of UP and Bihar as India extended the lockdown till 31st May 2020. Unlike what the first edition of this survey revealed, the state of Uttar Pradesh has seen an increase in grid-connected electricity supply from 12 hours a day to 15 hours a day, while Bihar witnessed significant drop from 20 hours a day to 15.5 hours a day. Mini grid services, on the other hand, fared better and provided reliable power supply to the villages despite the lockdown. Relaxations in lockdown rules have improved mini-grid services in the villages while in containment zones, the services continue to be affected. “Access to affordable electricity is a key component of rural development. Reliable power supply especially in times of crisis like this will ensure seamless delivery of essential services such as healthcare, education (online learning) and internet connectivity. Reliable power supply will play a key role in rebuilding the rural economy in the post-COVID-19 world,” added Mr. Mukherjee.

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Carpathy Launches Protect+ Car Revival and Sanitization Program in Partnership with Gulf Oil

COVID-19 was unprecedented and unfortunate - leading to the country being shut down for more than 2 months. With markets now on the verge of gradually opening up, people now feel the need for safer and hygienic transport options more than ever.

Carpathy Protect+

Private vehicles, which have been inactive for quite some time, are expected to be back on roads but consumers continue to face challenges with limited access to services like jumpstart, flat tyre repair and AC service. Sanitization of vehicles is also in high demand as most customers are looking to get their cars sanitized and germ free, before they can commute again.

Carpathy - India's largest car-service network, with more than 1000 workshops across 50 cities in India, has launched its Protect+ Car Revival and Sanitization Program. Protect+ promises to deliver best-in-class essential car care services at doorstep, with superior safety measures and precautions.

Divyanshu Bansal, Founder and CEO of Carpathy said, "Sanitization is one of the major offerings of the program with other essentials such as jumpstart, AC gas top-up and Oil change available at doorstep. Special teams have been trained to follow end-to-end safety precautions and ensure contactless service for customers. The package is also priced at a nominal Rs. 300, thereby not taking a hit on the pocket."

Ravi Chawla, MD, Gulf Oil India said, "Today, we are in the midst of unprecedented times, and as we navigate through the rapidly-evolving situation, it is utmost necessary to safeguard our loved ones. By associating with Carpathy in this noble initiative we further reinforce our motto of delighting customers with unmatched products and service."

"For the program, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits have been given to all mechanics thereby ensuring safety for both professionals and customers. In addition, we have also provided our mechanics with COVID-19 insurance. We are also happy to have our strategic partners Gulf Oil support us in this initiative. Gulf Oil's superior products help us deliver on our promise of quality while reaching the customer in these tough times," added Bansal.

Protect+ is currently available in 5 cities - Delhi, Gurgaon, Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad, and is rapidly expanding to other cities with an up-surge in demand from all corners of the country. The company is also setting up camps in residential societies and workplaces to ensure safer cars for more people. "Protect+ services will also be made available across all Carpathy workshops shortly," said Divyanshu Bansal.

More details about the Protect+ program and can be found at Carpathy's website www.carpathy.com/protect-plus.

Carpathy was started in 2015 by Divyanshu Bansal, Himanshu Bansal and Akshat Lavania. It operates a network of technology-enabled car service centers and provides end-to-end technology, operations procurement support to workshops on its platform. The company also offers franchises to individual workshop owners and has more than 30 franchises in Tier-II cities like Bhopal, Ahmedabad, among others.