If you visit Mumbai you are bound to notice the dabbaba. You may not realize this, but the Mumbai Dabbawala are a very important part of the life of Mumbai. They are the people, who make sure that 2,00,000 people get their lunch on time at their offices or schools every day from home.
Their operations are so efficient that world personalities like Prince Charles and Richard bradston have visited them. They have been invited for lectures at business schools. They are even said to be six sigma compliant.
What is a Dabba.
A dabba is simply a tiffin box carrying home cooked food, which is to be delivered from the home to a person to his office or school. A dabba wala is a person who carries home cooked food from your home to your office or school.
This may all sound simple, but imagine doings this in one of the most densely populated cities in the world. The dabbas walas have high rates of accuracy and their error rate is 1 in million only. What is even more impressive is all the dabba wallas are fairly illiterate and have no use of any technology. The only motorized transport used is the Mumbai local train. Other than this, they make use of hand drawn carts or bicycle.
The dabbas or the lunch boxes have a color codding scheme which makes sure that it reaches the right destination.
The structure of this organization is fairly flat. It has just 3 levels. Firstly the governing body, second team lead and third the dabba wallas themselves. Everyone is an equal shareholder in the organization. There are no bosses and the earnings are equally divided. Everyone has to work for the team. If one person works less, the full team earning is affected.
All the dabbas come from the same warkari sect and whenever replacement is required, the villages that have this sect are approached for replacement.
To join this organization as a dabbawalla, the dabbawalls have to bring few things. A long wooden crate, 2 bicycles and Rs. 20 for the Gandhi cap they wear. You can avail this dabba service as low as around Rs.700 per month.
While the operations are fairly simple, the dabbawallas have started using newer technologies. You can sms them or logon to their site http://mumbaidabbawala.in/
There are 5000 dabbawalla with 4,00,000 transaction per day with just local train and bicycle. Really amazing.