Dabbawalla

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  • Topic: Tiffin
  • Pages : 53 (1808 words )
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  • Published : February 13, 2013
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Natarajan
 Chakrapani
 

Great
 At
 Work
 :
 The
 Dabbawallas
 of
 Mumbai
 
 
  In
 the
 bustling
 metropolis
 of
 Mumbai,
 India
 ,
 lies
 ,
 as
 the
 Guardian
 puts
 it
 –
 “perhaps
  the
 most
 ingenious”
 food
 delivery
 system
 in
 the
 world.
  The
 Nutan
 Mumbai
 Tiffin
 box
 Suppliers
 Association
 (NMTBSA)
 comprise
 about
  5000
 tiffin-­‐lunch
 carriers(dabba
 wallas)
 who
 deliver
 2
 million
 lunch
 boxes
 from
 a
  customer’s
 home
 
 to
 their
 offices
 with
 a
 six
 sigma
 accuracy
 (i.e
 1
 error
 in
 six
 million
  deliveries)
 .
 All
 this
 in
 three
 hours,
 weaving
 in
 and
 out
 of
 the
 heavy
 workday
 traffic
  in
 Mumbai.
  While
 fast
 food
 delivery
 chains
 over-­‐complicate
 their
 menu
 in
 order
 to
 lure
  customers,
 the
 dabbawallas
 essentially
 focus
 on
 a
 service
 aimed
 to
 deliver
 home-­‐ cooked
 happiness
 to
 their
 customers.
  The
 workers
 also
 take
 pride
 in
 their
 social
 mission
 of
 letting
 their
 customers
 enjoy
  home
 cooked
 food,
 thereby
 sparing
 them
 of
 the
 harm
 that
 eating
 junk/restaurant
  food
 may
 cause.
 
 
  The
 term
 “dabba
 walla”
 alludes
 to
 the
 boxes/tiffins
 (dabbas)
 that
 these
  workers(delivery
 men)
 carry.This
 organization
 is
 on
 a
 simple
 quest
 to
 deliver
 lunch
  boxes
 to
 its
 customers
 on
 time.
 Their
 ability
 to
 focus
 on
 this
 seemingly
 simple
 task
 is
  achieved
 through
 a
 ingenious
 service
 delivery
 mechanism
 leveraging
 the
 social
 and
  transportation
 networks
 that
 the
 Mumbai
 metropolis
 offers.
 
  Tracing
 its
 origins,
 the
 tiffin
 delivery
 system
 was
 started
 in
 Mumbai
 in
 colonial
 times
  in
 the
 1880s,
 slowly
 forming
 a
 union
 of
 the
 tiffin-­‐carriers
 ,
 culminating
 in
 them
  registering
 as
 a
 charitable
 business
 in
 the
 1950s
 and
 then
 being
 registered
 as
 a
  commercial
 business
 in
 the
 late
 1960s.
 
 
  Traditionally
 the
 business
 has
 relied
 on
 a
 union
 of
 illiterate
 dabbawallas,
 who
 relied
  on
 their
 local
 area
 know-­‐how
 to
 handle
 distribution
 of
 tiffins
 in
 their
 respective
  zones.
 However,
 with
 increasing
 demand,
 this
 know-­‐how
 needed
 to
 be
 shared
 for
  the
 business
 to
 scale.
  The
 business
 has
 also
 been
 very
 lean
 on
 covering
 delivery
 costs
 with
 heavy
 reliance
  on
 public
 transportation
 like
 local
 trains
 and
 using
 the
 bicycle
 as
 a
 personal
 vehicle
  for
 the
 last
 mile
 delivery.
 
  However,
 one
 of
 the
 core
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