AppsForBharat’s bet on ‘devotion’

There's tech in your bhakti now. Even as over 10 lakh devotees flock to a flood-ridden Assam to attend the much-awaited annual Ambabuchi Mela at Kamakhya Temple, more people are actually using their smartphones to satiate their devotional needs.
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Inside spiritual-tech platform AppsForBharat

There's tech in your bhakti now. Even as over 10 lakh devotees flock to a flood-ridden Assam to attend the much-awaited annual Ambabuchi Mela at Kamakhya Temple, more people are actually using their smartphones to satiate their devotional needs.

US-based Expert Market Research pegged the Indian religious and spiritual market at $44 billion in 2020, and predicted that it will grow at a CAGR of 10 percent between 2022-2027.

One of the startups building a “virtual destination” for India’s devotees is AppsForBharat. Launched in November 2020 by Prashant Sachan, the platform aims to address the "spiritual needs of Indians" via its devotional content.

Key takeaways:

  • AppsForBharat is backed by marquee investors like Sequoia Capital India, Elevation Capital, Matrix Partners India, and BEENEXT.
  • It launched with SriMandir, an app that caters to Hindus as a virtual destination for devotees through the bundling of many use cases. SriMandir has over two million monthly active users and 500,000 daily active users.
  • Other startups in this space include Emerging Vision, VAMA, BhaktApps, and Sutradhar, among others.

“When you look at humans and the intervention of mobile phones, almost every behaviour has moved online,” said Prashant, adding that he wants to launch apps for other religions, including Sikhism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Islam, in the next two years.


An orthodontist-turned-IAS officer

Born and raised in Jalandhar, Punjab, Mittali Sethi says civil services was the last thing in her mind. The orthodontist who worked in Puducherry for two years, says she did not even know the full form of IAS (Indian Administrative Services).

“Somewhere in between attending to patients, I wanted to get out of the room I was settling in and wondering what else I could do,” she says. “Unfortunately, orthodontics is a cosmetic part of dentistry, and I was not very comfortable with just treating the very rich.”

An IAS officer of the 2017 Maharashtra cadre batch, Mittali is now the sub-divisional magistrate and Project Officer for the Integrated Development Project in Melghat, Amravati district.

Focusing on education and tribal welfare:

  • Working on health and nutrition, Mittali’s team piloted a project with IIT-Bombay, creating a digital system to map the number of NGOs working in the area, the villages they work in, and access to government workers.
  • The team worked on a migration tracking system for Melghat to track migrating populations, which was later piloted in six districts.
  • Last year, her team launched the Garudzhep (meaning ‘making a leap’ in Marathi) initiative, where 62,000 children in 1,560 schools were assessed for learning loss that had happened because of Covid.

A Metaverse phone

HTC continues to plough ahead in the phone market, launching its first metaverse smartphone—the HTC Desire 22 Pro—which will include crypto and NFT functionality.

The company said the new device will enable users to manage their metaverse content, cryptocurrency, and NFTs. Moreover, the Viverse app will help users “create their own virtual space" and purchase NFTs in a virtual marketplace.

Is this the phone for the future?

  • The HTC Desire 22 Pro is at best a mid-range device powered by an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 processor. It comes with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage.
  • Like previous HTC "cryptophones", the Desire 22 Pro also has a built-in crypto wallet for Ethereum and Polygon-based assets.
  • The smartphone is optimised to work alongside HTC's flagship Vive Flow VR headset, while a Vive Manager app helps set up and manage the VR hardware.

HTC Desire 22 Pro and VIVE Flow VR Glasses. Image: HTC


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