While there are many in Kolkata who have been physically lending a helping hand to the needy during the times of lockdown and social distancing, a group of locals have developed an app to make life easier in the face of COVID-19.

The home delivery app, called Yotto.in, launched on August 15 to strengthen neighbourhood shops, will now bring home bhog to the city people during Durga Puja. Bhog — a meal of khichdi and mixed vegetables along with a dessert, served at pandals — is one of the chief attractions of the three-day Durga Puja, which not only encourages social bonding but also spares people the trouble of going to the kitchen.

But this year, since social distancing — and not social bonding — is the mantra, people are unlikely to gather at their neighbourhood pandals for bhog. That is why Yotto.in has stepped in. “We already have 20 prominent puja committees on board, more are likely to join. You can order bhog from one of these pujas that’s nearest to your house. All you will need to pay is a ₹-25 delivery charge,” said Dev Datta, a Kolkata-based engineer who created the app with the help of some of his techie friends.

Milestone for Kolkata

The creation of such an app locally is an important milestone for Kolkata, considering it is not Bengaluru or a Hyderabad and where the atmosphere is more conducive for festivals and heated debates. It has nearly 250 shops on board and, at the moment, services, south Kolkata.

“During the lockdown, the big online retailers weren’t delivering and it was the neighbourhood shops that came to your rescue. Our app intends to strengthen those hyper-local shops at a time when online ordering is no longer an option but a compulsion. To put it simply, our delivery boys will get you groceries and vegetables from those very neighbourhood shops you used to regularly visit during pre-COVID-19 days,” said Mr. Datta.

“The six mantras we believe in are: no brand hijacking, no customer hijacking, no game of discounting, bonding between customers and shops, and no premium listing and predictive costing. All offers and promotions are directly governed by the business owners. We list businesses solely on location proximity and use ratings from Google to remain transparent,” he stated.

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