Mumbai Dabbawalas offer tips to management students in Kota

After delivering lectures at premier management institutes in India and across the globe, the Dabbawalas from Mumbai were in the coaching capital to offer management lessons to students of a private university. 

The interactive session titled ‘Management Learning with Mumbai Dabbawalas’ was organized by the Career Point University (CPU) and Junior Chamber International, Kota, and held at Career Point Auditorium on Sunday. The Mumbai-based Dabbawala Association shared its experiences with students and explained the operation model and highlighted the reason of success. 

Addressing the gathering of management students, entrepreneurs, businessmen and others, the spokesperson of Mumbai Dabbawalas Association, Subodh Sangle, said, “More than 50% of Dabbawalas are illiterate. But their commitment outwits qualification. They are well-versed with their job and are known for their on-time delivery of lunch-boxes, every time and that too without using technology, which is quite a feat.” He added, “They pick lunch-boxes from houses and travel around 60-70 km by foot, bicycle, train and handcart to deliver them in office, schools, colleges and other delivery points within a span of three hours on a daily basis.” 

They deliver two lakh tiffins daily in Mumbai. In the last 125 years of their existence, the Dabbawalas have rarely committed a mistake and never been on strike. “They are the best examples of man management, accuracy, commitment and efficiency,” he said.

Forbes has awarded Six Sigma Certification to them which speak volumes of their error-free operations. Dabbawalas are also providing their services to companies for delivery of organic milk, organic vegetables and other things. 

Elaborating it further, he said, “They have a coding system for tiffin boxes. A Dabbawala carries around 40 tiffin boxes daily. And on an average, a tiffin box passes through the hands of around four to five Dabbawalas who do their pick up, sorting, transportation and delivery.” 

Sangle said that despite being paid a paltry sum of Rs 10,000 per month, the Dabbawala are a satisfied lot. Most of the Dabbawalas belong to the Varkari community in Pune and they work so that the ‘customer doesn’t remain hungry’. 

The Dabbawalas also run the ‘Share My Dabba’ Project in which the uneaten food from the tiffin boxes is used to feed the hungry. 

The students were excited to take lessons from the Dabbawalas. Punit Khatri, a management student of CPU, said, “The Dabbawalas reflect core competency in their business and their supply chain is unusual.” Another management student Kanak Goyal stated that their efficiency, accuracy and time management skills were inspiring.

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