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NITIE Students Took to Streets with Mumbai Dabbawalas to Explore their Biz Management

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NITIE Students Took to Streets with Mumbai Dabbawalas to Explore their Biz Management


Over the past 115 years, the largely illiterate, able-bodied members of the Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Supplier's Association continue to weave through the crowded roads of Mumbai City, delivering close to 2 lakh lunch boxes to office-goers and school children, and returning the empty boxes to where they came from daily.

As one of them related to us in Marathi, "You have a mobile phone? You can book your dabba through SMS."

To remain current in this ever-changing environment, they have launched a web-site, although they firmly advocate their aim to keep operational costs low.

The President of the Dabbawalla Association said, "We are proud to be associated with a Management Institute of NITIE's stature. The recognition that we get from the academicians and students goes a long way in reinforcing our belief in our system".

The Program was attended by Dr. S. D. Awale, Director NITIE, and many of faculty members including Dr. Amitabh De, Dr. T. Prasad, Prof. MuthuKrishnan and Dr. Sachin Kamble. Dr. S. D. Awale advised the dabbawallas on techno-managerial aspects of the business. Dr. Amitabh De, who specializes in Ergonomics, carried out a survey aiming to find out the nature of the fatigue faced by dabbawallas during their job. Prof. MuthuKrishnan suggested improvements in Logistics, and Dr. Kamble, who teaches Marketing, gave some fine tips on Customer Orientation.

While their delivery model mimics the Just-in-Time Management System, their motivation still remains unparallel. Each Dabbawalla, a "shareholder" in the Association, earning an average of Rs. 5,000/- per month, attributes his drive in a deep-seated belief that no individual he serviced would go hungry on any working day.

As many students subsequently related, "Execution was the sole objective in the Dabbawalas delivery method. It makes one realize how respect for work can help realize the importance of 'Tacit' Knowledge in creating Excellence." Students learned the nuances of the System by listening to both the points of view: the Dabbawallas and their Customers.


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Contributed by -
Sriram Vasudevan,
Student Media Cell - IMpress,
NITIE Business School, Mumbai.

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