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Delhi’s weekly markets, a window to the city’s culture, back in business



On Sunday, the Delhi Disaster Management Authority issued an order allowing all weekly markets in the city to operate from this Monday

New Delhi: As it started raining on Sunday afternoon, Mohammad Ishmail quickly ran into his four-square-meter residence at the Jagdamba Camp slum cluster near Chirag Dilli to check if the roof was leaking once again. Inside, there was a mattress with no bedsheet, a plastic chair, a table made of plywood, and an intriguing assortment of plastic soap cases, tiny mirrors, pocket-sized combs, cheap wallets, and razors lay spread over a thin rug on the floor.

“There is more inside the trunk,” said the 38-year-old pointing towards a metal trunk that looked heavy, as he quickly fixed a plastic sheet covering a tiny hole on the tin-ceiling of his residence in the slum.

Ishmail is a traveling merchant, who keeps moving from one weekly market – popularly called Hafta Bazar – to another in the city in usual times for a living. At a hyperlocal level, most such Hafta Bazars are often named after the day of the week on which they operate – such as Mangal Bazar for weekly markets operating on Tuesdays, Budh Bazar for those operating on Wednesdays, and so on.

Most such markets are closed for months in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ishmail expects to be back in business from Monday, and the products that lay spread on the floor were fished out of the same trunk. He said, “Tomorrow, I shall be at the Mehrauli Hafta Bazar selling these goods. You can find me there. On Tuesdays, I am at Usmanpur. Wednesdays in Chirag Delhi. It is good that the government has finally taken a decision in our favor.”

On Sunday, the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) issued an order allowing all weekly markets in the city to operate from this Monday – essentially putting into implementation an announcement by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal the previous day, stressing on how these markets have to be preserved as a large number of poor people depend on them for their livelihood.


On August 2, the Delhi High Court asked the city government to consider reopening weekly markets.

As Delhi witnessed its worst Covid-19 wave, which left the city’s health infrastructure overwhelmed, the government implemented a lockdown on April 19. As Covid-19 cases started to decline, the government started with a phased relaxation process from May 31, and by mid-June they allowed one weekly market to operate per day per municipal zone.

Delhi has 12 municipal zones, said a senior official in the government’s revenue department, which essentially means 84 weekly markets have more or less been functional in the city for the last two months.

“But Delhi has more than 2,500 small and big weekly markets in total. From traders to suppliers and laborers, they engage lakhs of people. Around 250 such markets are quite prominent in the city including the ones in Shastri Park, Red Fort, Yamuna Pushta, Mandawali, Vasant Kunj, and Karkardooma. So, the one market per day per municipal zone means many of them were suspended and the traders associated with those markets were in distress,” said Arbind Singh, national coordinator of the National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI), an advocacy group.


The lockdown imposed because of the pandemic threw thousands into distress and Ishmail was among them. He recalled how he had to send his wife, who is a domestic worker, and nine-year-old son, to his extended family which resides at a village in Bihar’s East Champaran district.

Not having the weekly markets functional near their residences was trouble for customers too.

“Not having the weekly market functional in the neighbourhood was quite a problem. They offer a wide range of household essentials and we depend on that. But, yes, people should follow Covid-19 regulations without any compromise,” said Ganga Devi, a resident of New Ashok Nagar neighbourhood in east Delhi where three weekly markets in the vicinity have been non-functional for the last two months.

Weekly markets in Delhi sell a wide range of products – rolling pins, kitchen knives, plastic toys, woollens, toiletries, garments, bangles, lipsticks, face creams, razors, stationeries, vegetables, fruits, spices, cooking oil, pickles, papad and what not. They largely cater to lower-income group households.

“I see them more as a cultural thing,” said Rana Safvi, a Delhi-based historian and writer. “Where do you find bangle sellers in Delhi these days who used to walk around in localities selling their merchandise? In the weekly markets, you see such merchants. Traditionally a lot of them offered space to village residents in Delhi to display handmade products. While those rural areas turned into urban villages, such weekly markets remained. In most of them, the traders know their regular clients and they often form a bond.”

It is quite likely that such bonds between merchants and clients have helped the former read the demographic demands better and innovate. For instance, several weekly markets in the city which function in areas inhabited by large numbers of people from Bengali and Odiya communities sell fish, several of them located in areas inhabited by North-East Indian communities sell packed dried fish and bamboo shoots.

Film-maker and writer Sohail Hashmi highlighted the historical roots of Delhi’s weekly markets. He said, “When contending armies fought for the control of Delhi, the residents of its villages had to suffer violence. It is said that Mohammad bin Tughlaq once erected a wall around his new capital city of Bijay Mandal, which is located near current-day localities Begum Pur, Sarvodya enclave, and Sarvapriya Vihar. It would be a wall that would enclose within its folds his fort and all the surrounding villages and their lands. He named it Jahan Panah. A large part of the wall was demolished around 20 years ago to widen the Aurobindo Marg. Another part of the wall runs along the present-day Jahapanah Forest. The Sat Pula on the Saket-Sheikh Sarai Road near the Chirag Dilli drain too was a part of the wall but no trace of it remains there now. Tughlaq, however, died before the wall could be completed.“

“The villages enclosed within the walls and those in its peripheries continued to exist for centuries producing all that they needed to survive or buying what they did not, from the weekly markets, held on fixed days of the week near each village. These markets were run by small traveling salesmen who set up shop at a new location each day of the week, coming back to each location once a week. Each traveling merchant catered to a fixed set of six or seven villages within a specific part of what were then the environs of Delhi. Much has changed in the wares that the hafta bazaar merchants sell today; the customers have also changed and yet much remains in these markets that need to be preserved,” said Hashmi.


Source: Hindustan Times

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Zepto, 10-minute grocery delivery app, raises $100 million



Only five months subsequent to dispatching, 10-minute basic food item conveyance application Zepto on Tuesday reported it has raised $100 million driven by Y Combinator, taking its valuation to $570 million.

Other than the raise money, Zepto has been developing staggeringly rapidly and is significantly increasing its client base consistently.

In the course of recent months, Zepto has extended past Mumbai by dispatching in Bengaluru, Delhi, Gurgaon, Chennai, Hyderabad, and Pune (Kolkata to follow), the organization said in an assertion.

“Financial backers are reliably deciding to back Zepto due to our top tier execution. This is giving us extraordinary energy – we’re developing at an amazing rate, clients are adoring the item experience, our center unit financial matters are solid, and we have one of the most outstanding startup groups in India today,” said Aadit Palicha, Co-Founder and CEO.

The Series C raising money round saw support from new and existing financial backers, including Glade Brook, Nexus, Breyer Capital, Lachy Groom, Global Founders Capital, Contrary Capital, and that’s just the beginning.

The round came 45 days later the organization reported its $60 million raise money in November.

Conveying food in a short time is a game-changing encounter for clients in the nation, and a few players are presently joining the race.

“We are eager to twofold down and lead this round in Zepto. They initially dispatched with an alternate model, quickly turned to speedy trade in August 2021, and are presently adding 100,000 new clients consistently, 60% of the ladies,” said Anu Hariharan from Y Combinator.

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One stuck box of fertilizer shows the global supply chain crisis



Somewhere in the world’s busiest port of Shanghai, a container of fertilizer sits among tens of thousands of boxes, waiting for a ride to the U.S. It’s been on the dock for months, trapped by typhoons and Covid outbreaks that have worsened major congestion in the global supply-chain network.

While the fertilizer has been stranded there since May, the port is just one stop on the long journey from central China to the U.S. Midwest. Delays have stretched a delivery that ordinarily would take weeks to more than half a year. And that time frame will keep expanding, as the goods have barely started the roughly 15,000 kilometer (9,300 mile) trek.

This is the tale of one humble shipment and its arduous journey across the world. While some of the barriers keeping it from its final destination may be specific to this particular case, the journey is emblematic of the inertia that has gripped global trade during the pandemic.

From the U.S. to Sudan to China, container boxes have been lying at ports, railyards and in warehouses as the pandemic rages on. In an industry with 25 million containers and some 6,000 ships hauling them, it’s easy to see disruptions as one big headache confined to the shipping world. But each container that’s delayed is economic activity that’s restrained, heaping costs one box at a time on consumers and making it more challenging to put corn on consumers’ tables or deliver presents for the holidays.

It’s also a lesson in the ripple effects across global supply chains, showing the limits of diversification as all networks are still closely connected with China.

“All roads lead back to China, and that has a major effect across the entire supply chain,” said Dawn Tiura, head of U.S.-based Sourcing Industry Group. “Congestion at one port or factory has far-reaching implications for neighboring facilities, which trickles out across the world.”

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Bharat Biotech’s BBV154 leads global race for intranasal COVID-19 vaccine



Bharat Biotech’s nasal COVID-19 vaccine candidate BBV154 has become the front runner globally to likely commercialise an intranasal vaccine, following green signal from the government to conduct a combined Phase II and III final clinical trials in India. At present out of the 110 vaccines under clinical development globally, only eight are intranasal vaccines and three are oral vaccines. So far none of these vaccines have entered the final phase of trials and most are still in the first phase.

BBV154 is an intranasal replication-deficient chimpanzee adenovirus SARS-CoV-2 vectored vaccine, in-licensed from the Washington University in St Louis, USA. Nasal and oral vaccines are expected to be a game-changer second-generation COVID-19 vaccine, as they stimulate a broad immune response and prevent both infection and transmission. The non-invasive, needle-free vaccines do not require trained health care workers to administer the vaccine, have no risks of injuries and infections and is suited for children and adults. Unlike Covaxin, which is difficult to make, manufacturing can be scaled up fast and easily.  Compared to injectable vaccines, nasal and oral vaccines are expected to provide long-lasting protection.

Bharat Biotech is yet to announce its plans and timeline for the nasal vaccine’s future development.

Serum Institute of India and Codagenix have done a 48-subject Phase I clinical trial in the UK for an intranasal COVID-19 vaccine, COVI-VAC. This live attenuated candidate vaccine is expected to have potential to provide a broader immune response, in comparison to most COVID-19 vaccines that target only a portion of the virus. Codagenix has recently completed dosing for its Phase I trials and data is expected to come out in the third quarter of the year.

Nasdaq listed US biopharmaceutical company Altimmune, which was developing a three-dose intranasal vaccine candidate  AdCOVID, discontinued the project on July 29, as its first phase trials did not stimulate an adequate immune response in healthy volunteers. “The top-line Phase 1 clinical data are disappointing given the encouraging preclinical data and our substantial efforts in advancing a differentiated, intranasal vaccine candidate in the fight against COVID-19,” said Vipin K Garg, Altimmune’s India born President and Chief Executive Officer.

The University of Hong Kong, Xiamen University and Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy in China are trying a Phase II clinical trial of a two-dose influenza virus vector COVID-19 vaccine as an intranasal spray (DelNS1-2019-nCoV-RBD-OPT1). Its one year long second phase trial among 240 volunteers is going on and will conclude only by mid-December 2021.

The University of Oxford is conducting a single dose Phase I study of AstraZeneca’s ChAdOx1 nCOV-19 (Covishield in India and manufactured by the Serum Institute) to be administered intranasal among 54 volunteers in three groups. According to the trial design, the study started in April is estimated to complete the first phase only by February 2022.

Cuban government’s Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, which developed Latin America’s first COVID-19 vaccine Abdala, is undertaking a Phase I/II study of an intra-nasal three dose protein subunit vaccine candidate Mambisa (CIGB-669). According to the research agency, Mambisa is based on the formulation of the RBD (Receptor Binding Domain) protein and an immuno enhancer, Hepatitis B nucleocapsid antigen.

Canadian biotech Symvivo Corporation has ‘bacTRL-Spike’, as an oral capsule DNA vaccine candidate for the prevention of COVID-19, is undergoing Phase I trials in Australia. The trial was started only in November, last year. The global drug major Merck, known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, has taken exclusive license of Symvivo’s bacTRL platform of oral vaccines.  Symvivo has funding of about $4.57 million from the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP) to develop this vaccine.

US biotech Meissa Vaccines’s MV-014-212, a single dose intranasal recombinant live attenuated COVID-19 vaccine, is undergoing Phase I trials and its interim trial data will come out by the end of this year. Another small US biotech, Vaxform and the US Specialty Formulations LLC (USSF) are developing an oral COVID-19 vaccine, which is also in its first phase. Similarly, another US small biotech CyanVac LLC is also attempting an intranasal parainfluenza virus based COVID-19 vaccine (CVXGA1), now in the first phase and its results are also expected only by the end of the year.

Mexican veterinary pharmaceutical company Laboratorio Avi-Mex is testing a live influenza virus based vaccine, both as an intranasal spray as well as an injection. It is starting Phase I trials and is funded by Mexico’s foreign ministry and the National Council of Science and Technology (Conacyt). The Mexican authorities hope to commercialise this vaccine by the end of the year.

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