VGSoM IIT Kharagpur hosts a session on Mumbai Dabbawallas

 | March 13,2012 11:24 am IST

The name,Dabbawallas, brings with it a hint of rustic flavour and unabashed simplicity. Though, spending some quality time with them and listening intently to demystify their success codes strengthens the mentioned precognition.

Brainchild of a banker from Patna, Honorary Mahadu Hanaju Bache, and started with 35 odd people in 1890 with the wisest of adages to guide them (like Work is workship, Time is money, Annadaan is Mahadaan and Unity is Power) is how one can most efficiently define the modest beginnings of Dabbawallas.


The session started with a brief and lucid description of the benefits catered by Dabbawallas through a presentation, which also took every student on a virtual journey which every Dabbawalla undertakes on a routine basis. Then it progressed to bring into focus some of the staggering facts on the operational procedure of Dabbawallas. They are five thousand in number, total area covered by them is sixty to seventy kilometers daily, they use the lifelines of Mumbai, i.e the local trains to pick Dabbas from mess/homes of their clients and deliver it to their offices and then again bring them back, most of them are educated up till the school level, they have no technological back up, error rate of the whole procedure is within those established by the coveted Six Sigma principles and havent endured a single strike in their impeccable history.


The lecture stressed on the point that the Dabbawallas sense of ownership is one of their strong points and it stems from the belief that they themselves are the stakeholders. They shared a story to showcase the value addition they did (without charging a pie) other than just delivering food and also the trust they commandeered. Though it seemed effortless but all these needed some strenuous efforts. A would be dabbawalla is observed for a month to get a hang of his physical strength and basic values and if found suitable then confirmed. Furthermore, for security issues, they did a preliminary investigation of the prospective clients and never delivered dabbas on an ad hoc basis.


The speakers, Mr. Subodh B Sangle and Mr. Puneet S Bhatnagar were of the view that at the crux of their envious error rate was the alpha numeric coding system of extraordinaire excellence which they had devised. They also mentioned some of the feathers in the illustrious hat of the Dabbawallas. The international attention they caught by Prince Charles's visit was definitely the most prized one. As the session drew to its conclusion, students queries were answered and the whole audience was left in a contemplative mood to get to terms with what a great idea and its flawless implementation is worth of!