While the COVID-19 pandemic seems to be abating somewhat in several developed nations, there are still many countries where it is raging, with India being the worst hit. India is in the midst of a devastating second wave of the virus, posting over 400,000 daily cases and 4,000 deaths for nearly a week now. These numbers are all almost certainly underreported, with some estimates stating that the actual numbers could be 10x higher, which paints a clear picture of the scale of this pandemic in the country at present.
India's already poor healthcare infrastructure has collapsed under this load, with citizens having to take to social media to try and source medicines, oxygen and hospital beds. It is a very bleak scenario at the moment, and this has been noticed by the rest of the world, with several countries despatching aid and resources, while there have also been several fundraising appeals by notable organizations and celebrities, both in India and around the world.
The crypto community in India has also not been far behind in terms of relief efforts — they launched the Crypto Relief Fund recently, and have now followed it up by creating Fable, which is a project that aims to auction digital artwork in the form of NFTs to raise money for COVID relief in India.
According to Winz.io in India, NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, have been the new buzzword in crypto and digital circles this year. NFTs are digital tokens on blockchain networks that are unique and cannot be interchanged with each other i.e non-fungible. They are being used to auction and sell digital art, music, collectables and many other digital assets, with some of these going for huge amounts of money.
There is an Indian connection here as well, as the first NFT artwork auction, held by the auction house Christie's, was won by a crypto entrepreneur of Indian origin, named Vignesh Sundaresan. Sundaresan, aka Metakovan, paid $69.3 million for a collage of 5,000 drawings by the digital artist Beeple, titled “Everydays: The First 5000 Days”. This auction was also conducted in Ether rather than fiat currency, and it has been the most expensive NFT ever, with several others also being sold for large amounts.
Thus, there is already quite a lot of buzz around the NFT space in India, and now a group of entrepreneurs is coming together to try and use this to raise money to tackle the ongoing pandemic in the country. This group consists of a number of people working in the startup economy in India.
IndieFolio Network founder Kavan Antani is leading the design team for the NFT, while Arjun Malhotra, the founder of the VC firm Good Capital, created this idea. Other volunteers include Akriti Khosla, founder of the online recruitment platform Career Cupid, who is overseeing content and Raunaq Vaishoha and Anil Dukkipatty, who is leading the engineering side of things and are co-founders at the blockchain startup Elemental Labs.
All proceeds from this auction will go to CryptoRelief, which is a fund delivering healthcare services and essential goods across the country to those who need them while fighting COVID-19.
This is part of a growing trend where crypto is being used to source funding and relief in India during the pandemic. Vitalik Buterin, the co-founder of Ethereum, donated 100 ETH and 100 MKR towards relief efforts in the country, while former Coinbase CTO Balaji Srinivasan committed over $100,000 in crypto as well.
A number of other notable people in the crypto space have come forward to donate, while even former Australian cricketer Brett Lee donated 1 BTC, rather than fiat currency, towards relief efforts, showing just how commonplace crypto has become today.