Published on April 12th, 2011 | by Sejal Shah


War against time

The very thought of Mumbai brings us jitters about the traffic, congestion and local trains. It is said, A million people together make an empire but 5000 dabbawalas together have made a world of their own.

“Simple living and high thinking is indeed the inspiration behind the master mind of these dabbawalas.”

These men whose attire has been influenced from the Gandhian Era, where technology means brains and unity means team work. With a strong grit, great passion, complete dedication and commitment they have achieved six sigma certification without an application. “12 coach trains,4000 commuters,8000 disputes.No Excuse. Only duty.” They believe, “Error is horror, don’t give up to mirror it will become danger.”

Nutan Mumbai Tiffin box suppliers association started off in the year 1890 with just two customers during the British rule, they grew from strength to strength and now rule the Mumbai traffic by undertaking 4, 00,000 transactions per day with the total work force of approximately 5000 employees whose average qualification is 8th grade.

In an encounter with Dr. Pawan G.Agarwal, Director of the Mumbai dabbawala education center quotes in hindi,“hum angrez zamane ke jailor toh nahi magar dabbawale zaroor hai.”

He highlights that they consider costumer as God and work as worship hence there is no strike record till date.

A head load of crate to hand cart to bicycle, these dabbawalas are always punctual and deliver food on time regardless of late trains and bad weather.

Dr.Pawan sets all doubts to rest by specifying that they are ‘no caterers’, they help in delivering the Tiffin boxes from their respective homes to work place before lunch time.

He takes keen interest in explaining regarding the principles of coding done on the dabba;

People study business books and then practice, Dabbawala practiced first and now has become a case study.

Dabbawalas are very efficient despite of being paid less cause they believe in sustaining customers and tells us not to run behind money. He adds saying corporates aim at profits and dabbawalas aim at providing service at feasible cost. The dabbawalas are united as they belong to the same society and share the feeling of brotherhood.

Dabbawalas have many credits, they have not only impressed the mumbaikars but have also impressed great men like Prince Charles, Richard Branson, Clinton etc. Awards and appreciations, rewards and recognition, dabawallas have carved a niche for themselves in the Guinness books of world records as well as Ripley’s . Dabbawalas are a classic Indian example on Team work, Commitment, Discipline, Customer Satisfaction, Honesty and Time Management.

There is always two sides to a coin, ups and downs are part and parcel of theses dabbawalas too, but they carry on with the same spirit to keep Mumbai ticking like the clock ticks, but time does not stop because ‘work is worship’.

( The entire article is written to suit the language style of Dabbawalas)


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