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Businesses go through dramatic twist and turns. Some survive, white quite a few fall by the way side.

. Corporate heads grapple with this and a sustainable model for making organisation last. Dabawalas, the story of Mumbais ubiquitous homemade food delivery men stands contrast. A 115-year old business enterprise, run by semiliterate group of people, that has sustained itself through the vicissitudes of change presents a role model. 5000 semi- literate dabawalas daily deliver homemade food to 2,00,000 people within a radius of 60 kms in just 3 hours. Carrying 2,00,000 Tiffin boxes per day amounts to 4,00,000 transactions every single day. The spread of workplaces and residences are like a scatter diagram. Indeed a marvelous feat. The error rate is one in 16 million transactions; this is unbelievable time management. Mumbai has out grown its landscape. Its current population is 10.3 million. Fast food joints and footpath eateries have sprung up all over. Yet Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Association has steadily grown. The carving for home-cooked food. Most people still prefer food made at home, if it can be transported at a reasonable cost from residences to offices. A dabawala charges merely Rs. 200 (or $4.6) per month per customer, irrespective of distance, weight, or space. In return, he earns Rs. 5000 6000 per month (approximately $ 116-140) from the 25-30 customers he serves. In other countries, people do not have this luxury. But if you ask anyone, particularly those belonging t lower income groups anywhere, their first preference will be for home-cooked food. This desire is so basic that it is almost unchangeable, despite the availability and attraction for outside food. If there is a conflict between the dabawala the group leader, Mukadam, sorts them out. The president or vice-president of the Association looks into issues that are not resolved by the Mukadam or the issues between the Mukadam and the group. There is a Governing Council consisting of 13 members. This includes the presidents, vice-president, general secretary, treasurer, and nine directors (see Figure A.1). Below that, they have the group leaders (Mukadams) who

manage the 5000 members of the society. They follow the guidelines laid down in the Cooperative Society Act. The president or the vice president is responsible for conducting monthly meetings, checking the bank accounts and solving the problems of members. The general secretary handles daily matters of the Trust, the association correspondence, collecting the Trust fee (Rs. 15) from members, and looks after all other administration matters. The treasurer maintains the accounts of the Trust. The directors help the president in decision making and in the smooth functioning of the Trust. If there are any dispute about the overall functioning, they are resolved by the governing council. A Mukadam is a leader group of 25-30 dabawalas. Each Mukadam has multiple responsibilities, namely, sorting out Tiffin boxes at the hub, maintaining a record of payments, arranging substitutes for absent dabawalas, setting disputes, scouting for new customers and ensuring customer satisfaction. The harder you hold on to old customers, the quicker you find new ones. More than 3000 clients have stayed with our service for over two decades. We are secure in looking for new customers in the old locales, because the old dont give way to new that fast. In addition, the movement in the direction of new residential complexes and business districts helps us to find new customers. Supply Chain Management (SCM) is the process of planning, implementing, and controlling operations with the aim of satisfying customer requirements as efficiently as possible. It encompasses all activities involved in sourcing, procurement, conversion, and logistics. It focuses on the optimization of the activities in the supply chain with a view to transporting the finished product using various modes of transportation to distribution centers, and ultimately to customers. It is end-to-end efficient services. In delivery supply chain they collect dabas from various customers homes, and then transport them on foot, bicycles, and pushcarts to railway station hubs, like Thane. They are distributed there according to destinations, and at

the destinations again redistributed according to offices. They are then delivered to the customers offices. They follow the method in reverse to collect and return the dabas to the respective residences. Which means they manage the logistics and transportation from source points to different destinations and back, within the stipulated time, every day? Our product therefore is delivery on time with an error rate of almost zero-one in 16 million! We have been able to establish this excellent record without punching any time clock or supervision. Its an unbelievable feat of people groups in timely service delivery. Its kind of baton relay system, wherein dabas are handed over by dabawalas at various points in the hub and spoke delivery process. The sorting is done at specific railway junctions, from where individual spokes branch out for distribution. Hubs are places for sorting dabas. And also sorting out conflicts between dabawalas, and between groups! Its like platforms in the share market. They developed this system on their own, with the single purpose of delivering the dabas on time.

Stimulating thoughts of dabawalas

Food prepared with affection at home provides divine contentment. If you change just enough you achieve embracive happiness. When you move beyond the fear of new entrants and competition; you feel free with belief in god that He will provide new customers. Search what is durable in time of major change; It provides the wildest of business opportunities. Decentralize to empower and deliver with excellent; Ensure that the cost of change is least to the customer. Savour the old but enjoy the changing. The harder you hold on loyally to the old customers with dependable delivery Service, it provides lasting business. Lifelong devotional commitment to timely deliverables brings royal recognition and increase in business. At the princes wedding, affection mysteriously leads to bonding and contentment; its ethos is local but broad banding is global. The success secret of any business is to make its service segment humane.

Dabawala who are the dabawala A dabawala is a person in the Indian city of Mumbai who is employed in a unique service industry whose primary business is collecting the freshly cooked food in lunch boxes from the residence of the office workers (mostly in the suburbs). Delivering it to their respective workplace and returning back the empty boxes by using various modes of transport. Tiffin is an oldfashioned English word for a light lunch, and sometimes for the box it is carried in for this reason, the dabawala are also known as Tiffin walahas. The word Dabawala in Hindi when literally translated means one who carries a box. Daba means a box (usually a cylindrical tin or aluminum container), while wala is a suffix, denoting a doer of the proceeding word. The closest meaning of the Dabawala in English would be the lunch box delivery man. Though this profession seems to be simple, it is actually a highly specialized service in Mumbai which is over a century old and has become integral to the cultural life of this city. The concept of the dabawala originated when India was under British rule. Many British people who came to the colony did not like the local food, so a service was set up to bring lunch to these people in their workplace straight from their home. Nowadays, Indian business men are the main customers for the dabawala, and the services provided are cooking as well as delivery. At 19, 373 person per km, Mumbai is Indias most densely populated city with a huge flow traffic. Because of this, lengthy commutes to workplaces are common, with many workers traveling by train. But service was originated in 1880. Later, Mahadeo Havaji Bachche started a lunch delivery service with about 100 men. In 1930 he informally attempted to unionize the dabawalas. Later a charitable trust was registered in 1956 under the name of Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Trust. The commercial arm of this trust was registered in 1968 as Mumbai Tiffin Box Carriers Association. The present President of the association is Raghunath Medge. Nowadays, the service often includes cooking of foods in addition of foods in addition to the delivery.

Low Tec and lean Technology Although the service remains essentially low-tech, with the barefoot delivery mess as the prime movers, the dabawalas have started to embrace modern Information technology, and now allow booking for delivery through SMS. A web site has also been added to allow for on-line booking, in order to keep up with the times. An online poll on the web site ensures that customer feedback is given pride of place. The success of the system depends on teamwork and time management that would be the envy of a modern manager. Such is the dedication and commitment of the barely literate and barefoot delivery men (there are only a few delivery women) who form links in the extensive delivery chain, that there is no system of documentation at all. A simple color coding system doubles as an ID system for the destination and recipient. There are no multiple elaborate layers of management eitherjust three layers. Each dabawala is also required to contribute a minimum capital in kind, in the form of two bicycles, a wooden crate for the Tiffins, white cotton Kurta Pyjamas, and the white trade mark Gandhi topi (cap). The return on capital is ensured by monthly division of the earnings of the each unit. Mostly the range of customers includes students (both college and school), entrepreneur of small businesses, manager especially bank staff, and mill worker. New customers are generally acquired through referrals. Some are solicited by Dabawalas on railway platforms. Addresses are passed on to the dabawala operating in the specific area, who then visits the customer to finalize arrangements. Service charges vary from Rs 150 Rs 300 per Tiffin per month, depending on location and collection time. Money is collected in the first week of every month and remitted to the mukadam on the first Sunday. He then divides the money equally among members of the group. It is assumed that one dabawala can handle not more than 30-35 customers given that each Tiffin weight around 2 Kgs. And this is the benchmark that every group tries to achieve.

Introduction Hungry kya? What would you like: pizza from the local Dominos (30 minute delivery) or a fresh, hot meal from home? Most managers dont have a choice. Its either a packed lunch or junk food grabbed from a fast food outlet. Unless you live in Mumbai, that is, where a small army of picks up 175, 000 lunches from homes and delivers tem to hurried students, managers and workers on every working day. At your desk. 12.30 pm on the dot. Served hot, of course. And now you can even order thought the Internet. Practical Example To better understand the complex sorting process, lets take an example. At Vile Parle Station, there are four groups of dabbawalas; each has twenty members services 40 customers. That makes 3,200 Tiffins in all. These 3,200 Tiffins are collected 9.00 am, reach the station and are sorted according to their destinations by 10.00 am when the Dabawala Special train arrives. The railway provides sorting areas on platforms as well as special compartments on trains traveling south between 10.00 am and 11.30 am. During the journey, these 80 dabawalas regroup according to the number of Tiffins to be delivered in a particular area, and not according to the group they actually belong to. If 150 Tiffins are to be delivered in the Grant Road Station area, then four people are assigned to that station, keeping in mind one person can carry no more than 35-40 Tiffins. During the earlier sorting process, each dabawala would have concentrated on locating only those 40 Tiffins under his charge, wherever they come from, and this specialisation makes the entire system efficient and error-free. Typically it takes about ten to fifteen minutes to search, assemble and arrange 40 Tiffins onto a crate, and by 12.30 pm they are delivered to offices. In a way, MTBSAs system is like the Internet. The Internet relies on a concept called packet switching. In packet switched networks, voice or data files are sliced into tiny sachets, each with its own coded address which directs its routing. These packets are then ferried in bursts, independent of other packets and possibly taking different routes, across the country or the world, and re-

assembled at their destination. Packets switching maximizes network density, but there is a downside: your packets intermingle with other packets and if the network is overburdened, packets can collide with others, even get misdirected or lost in cyberspace, and almost certainly not arrive on time. Elegant logistics. In the dabawalas elegant logistics system, using 25 kms of public transport, 10 km of footwork and involving multiple transfer points, mistakes rarely happen. According to a Forbes 1998 article, one mistake for every eight million deliveries is the norm. How do they achieve virtual six-sigma quality with zero documentation? For one, the system limits the routing and sorting to a few central points. Secondly, a simple color code determines not only packet routing but packet prioritizing as lunches transfer from train to bicycle to foot. In detail If you travel to Bombay, the business capital of India, you will see a group of men called Dabawalas. In the local Hindi language, a daba means Tiffin (lunch) box and a walla means a man. All the dabawalas are members of the Bombay Tiffin Box Suppliers Association. The association now has 5,000 members who deliver Tiffin boxes throughout the city. Unlike other Tiffin carriers, they work over a special network and carry over 170,000 lunches prepared by wives to their husbands who commute into the city to work everyday. Scale Services: 5,000 People Run for Train to Deliver Lunches After 09: 00 am every morning, 5,000 dabawalas will knock at the door of residences in the suburbs of Bombay and pick up lunches from the hands of housewives. A lunch is normally put in a 4-bowl Tiffin box. Usually, a dabawala collects 30-40 Tiffin boxes a day. The dabawala put the Tiffin boxes on their bicycles and carry them to the nearest suburban railway station. They meet with other colleagues at different intermediate stations, and like postmen, they sort the Tiffin boxes according to the destination station. Then they change to other trains bound for different stations in the city of Bombay. Take the Church gate station in downtown as an example. When the train arrives at the station, hundreds of dabawalas unload tens of thousand of

Tiffin boxes and separate them quickly. Some of the Tiffin boxes are placed o0n plates. Some are carried on heads, and still more tied to bicycle racks or placed on wood wheeled carts. Before the clock rings 13:00, they rush into government offices, schools, factories and companies and present the lunches prepared by the wives to the husbands. After lunch, the process is reversed. The dabawalas collect the empty boxes and return them to each housewife before 18:00. Efficient Operation: 1/8,000,000 Error Rate Most dabawalas are an illiterate does not hinder their efficiency. According to an authoritative investigation, dabawalas make only one error per million transactions. This means, averagely, they make only one wrong deliver in 8 million lunches. This is a level envied by many big international companies. Not long ago, an Indian employed just returned from abroad. On the first day of his work in Bombay, he received his lunch delivered by a dabawala to his working place. He had heard of but always doubted the efficiency of dabawalas. This time, he opened his Tiffin box and was angry to find that the 3 cakes his wife said that would be delivered was changed to 4 the dishes were totally different from what he had ordered. He was sure that the dabawala had made a mistake. Later he called his wife, only to know that his wife decided to give him a change that day. It is said that, when dabawalas first appeared in 1890, they tied color ribbons outside the Tiffin boxes to identify customer addresses. Later, ribbons were replaced by different of symbols and lines which are used till today. In this unique coding system, each color represents an area or block of Bombay and the lines, crosses and dots represent streets, buildings and even floors. A single-color notation indicates a high priority delivery. These complex codes can be only understood by the dabawalas. No doubt, dabawalas can link thousands of Bombay husband to their wives at lunch time not only because of these codes and a smooth railway network but also because of the team sprit. One Tiffin box usually passes the hands of three or four people before it arrives at its destination.


(1) To provide instrument to members for carrying out essential jobs. (2) To get the work for the trust and plan it in such a way that the labour will get regular employment. (3)Mutual understanding amongst members, self service and inculcation of saving habit among the members to be increased. (4) To take contracts of public and private companies for delivery. (5) To work for over all welfare of members. (6) To do the work of providing essentialities to the members at reasonable cost. (7) To increase the skill of members by imparting them training. (8) To increase the dealings power of labour.