Be it the lemon soda or banta sellers or those dishing out momos and channa kulchas, the internet sale of forms appears to have worked against them

With internet making information flow smoother, Delhi University had introduced online application forms about two years ago. After that, during every admission season, university officials send out pleas to students to apply online but every time they seem to be falling on deaf ears – with a sea of humanity preferring to descend on the university’s North Campus for filling in the applications. This June has been no different.

Though students throng the campus along with their friends and family members and as most of the canteens in Delhi University have been shut as hostellers are away, the number of footfalls have not resulted in commensurate sales for the numerous street food vendors who do business in the area. Be it the lemon soda or banta sellers or those dishing out momos and channa kulchas, the internet sale of forms appears to have worked against them.

“I have been selling bantas (lemon sodas) from 1971, and I have never seen such poor sales. This year, I am able to dispose off only five crates — of 24 bottles each — on an average whereas in the years before that it was 25 crates, 35 and 50, in that order,” rued Babar Aktar Ali, who has set shop in front of the Arts Faculty enclosure.

His stall was right opposite the Daulat Ram College premises, where one of the admission information centres was located.

“I usually make most of my money during the admission season. I even got two of my children married. One admission season’s money used to be good for each daughter’s wedding. That was the way I planned my budget. The drinks would get sold out and my arms would hurt from handing out so many bantas. Now, I stand idle on most days, students prefer being on the internet instead of coming here in the heat,” he added, waving to the five or so students who were waiting to be served lemon sodas with ice.

Nearby is Taara Chand, who says he has been in the business of making cholay kulchay “since the time of Indira Gandhi”. He is one of the few cholay kulchay-wallas on the North Campus who has not learnt how to make them into rolls, the way students prefer it now. “I never learnt it, but it never affected my business. I don’t keep count of the number of kulchas I sell, but ever since the online forms got introduced, my business has been drastically reduced. Earlier, all of us vendors made most of our money during the admission season and could take it easy the rest of the year. But that is no longer the case,” he said.

Selling momos has never been a great business in summer, said Krishna Mughol, who is fairly new to the business, joining his Nepali relatives in Delhi only a few years ago. “We anyway do not get a lot of business in the summers, but yes, my relatives say that this year it has been worse than before.”

Many other street vendors also had similar stories to tell.

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