Mumbai Dabbawallas' success story travelling to land of nawabs

Lucknow: Come Saturday and management students, industry captains and representatives of other institutions will be taking tips and lessons here from the success story of Mumbai's dabbawallas, who have gained fame globally for efficiently delivering lunch boxes, colloquially known as dabbas, to thousands of office-goers across the vast metropolis.

The Young Indians (YI) chapter of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) Lucknow chapter is organizing an interactive session where the manner in which the dabbawallas operate will be discussed threadbare.


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Established in 1890 and expanded as a charitable trust in 1956, with an extremely minimal fee and with utmost punctuality, the service moves around 200,000 lunch boxes every day (400,000 transactions each day, including return) by an estimated 5,000 dabbawallas.

"The idea of organizing this event was largely because it struck us that the average literacy level of a dabbawalla is 8th standard pass and that yet their service is uninterrupted even on days of extreme weather, such as Mumbai's characteristic monsoon.

They have never been on strike for a single day in the last 120-plus years," Gaurav Prakash, chairman of the YI Lucknow chapter, told IANS while explaining the rationale of the do. He added that he found it very necessary that the success story of these otherwise semi-literate but highly professional was shared in the land of nawabs and that people aspiring to grow their businesses draw lessons from the interaction.

"The success of the dabbawallas has been shared on many platforms, including the executive board of the ING group, before the prime ministers of the Netherlands and Belgium, the top management of Mercedes Benz, Oxford University, Columbia University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cognizant Technology Solutions at Wharton, Wharton Business School, Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth, and all the leading business schools in India and Asia, so why not Lucknow?" Prakash asked.

Pawan Girdhari Agarwal, a motivational speaker who is associated with the dabbawallas and holds a Ph.D. on "A study of Logistics and Supply Chain Management of dabbawalas in Mumbai", will address the session.

Agarwal runs the Mumbai Dabbawalla Education Centre under the Kamlabai Educational and Chairitable Trust and has a deep insight on the functioning and lives of the Dabbawallas. Formed in 2002, YI is an integral part of CII and serves as a platform for young Indians to realise the dream of a developed nation. It has around 1,500 members in 32 chapters, and engages around 8,300 students.

YI members are aged between 25 and 40 comprising majorly of entrepreneurs, professionals and achievers from different walks of life. For many in Lucknow and neighbouring areas, the finality of success is education but the dabbawallas have proved that it is not always education that is the success mantra and hence the two-hour event has generated a lot of interest, Prakash concluded.

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