The Dharavi slum in Mumbai, India, October 2014
Shailesh Andrade / Reuters

In Mumbai’s Dharavi slum, a woman known in the community only as Mrs. Mehta fell sick with COVID-19. Her outlook was not good: the social safety net in Mumbai was thin, and no public hospital had room for her. As a maid, she had no spare money to pay for a visit to a doctor. But she was not completely alone. The Dharavi community had formed a network using mobile apps such as IndiaChat and even Allindiachat (a repurposed dating app) to link neighbor to neighbor. Through such networks, other residents learned that Mrs. Mehta had contracted the disease.

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