With extended lockdowns forcing millions of Mumbai's white-collar professionals to work from home, many dabbawalas have been struggling to feed their own families since April last year.
After the pandemic shut offices and put Mumbai's renowned lunchbox deliverymen out of work, the 130-year-old 'dabbawala' network has tied up with a trendy restaurant chain to take on India's billion-dollar start-ups.
34A tie-up with some of Mumbai's most popular eateries allowed Jadhav and 30 others to return to workYahoo News is better in the appKeep up to speed at a glance with the Top 10 daily stories44With extended lockdowns forcing millions of Mumbai's white-collar professionals to work from home, many dabbawalas have been struggling to feed their own families since April last year
After the pandemic shut offices and put Mumbai's renowned lunchbox deliverymen out of work, the 130-year-old "dabbawala" network has tied up with a trendy restaurant chain to take on India's billion-dollar start-ups.For two decades, neither terror attacks nor monsoon deluges could stop Kailash Shinde from delivering hot lunches to Mumbai office workers, until lockdowns put the father-of-two on a forced hiatus for a whole year.
"It's been very difficult," the 42-year-old said. "I had to sell what I could and work odd jobs to get by."Instantly recognisable in his traditional Gandhi cap and white Indian attire, Shinde is one of 5,000 dabbawalas -- or "lunchbox men" in Hindi -- who have gained global recognition for delivering home-cooked food with clockwork precision. headtopics.com
An intricate system of alphanumeric codes helps the largely semi-literate or illiterate workforce collect, sort and distribute 200,000 meals across Mumbai each day via bicycles, hand carts and a sprawling local train network.Their work has been studied as a "model of service excellence" at Harvard Business School, and inspired personal visits from Richard Branson, Prince Charles and executives from global delivery giants FedEx and Amazon, among others.
But with extended lockdowns forcing millions of Mumbai's white-collar professionals to work from home, many dabbawalas have been struggling to feed their own families since April last year."Our members have had to work as security guards and labourers, in addition to seeking jobs as deliverymen for restaurants," said Ulhas Muke of the Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Charity Trust, which represents the workforce.
- 'Mumbai's original deliverymen' -But delivery jobs are harder to come by in a space now increasingly dominated by mobile apps, especially for people like 39-year-old Pandurang Jadhav, who can't read or write.Unemployed for the first time since becoming a dabbawala aged 17, Jadhav moved to his ancestral village and spent the last year farming rice.
Story continuesThe earnings were meagre and he desperately missed Mumbai, where he managed 30 men."I used to love working as a dabbawala," he told AFP, describing it as "the best job".Help arrived this May in the form of a tie-up with some of Mumbai's most popular eateries, allowing Jadhav and 30 others to return to work. headtopics.com
Instead of handling home-cooked meals packed in stainless steel tiffin boxes, he is now delivering restaurant staples from nachos to spaghetti carbonara to time-starved professionals as they continue working from home for a second year.The scheme offers restaurateurs an alternative to the prevailing local duopoly of delivery giants Zomato and Swiggy, whose steep discounts and razor-thin margins have slashed their profits.
"We are trying to find a way out of the tyranny of the aggregators," said Riyaaz Amlani, the owner of Impresario Restaurants, which operates 57 outlets across more than a dozen Indian cities."Of course we want to help the dabbawalas. They are the original deliverymen of Mumbai," he told AFP.
- A new beginning -Amlani plans to expand his partnership with the dabbawalas, but analysts say that alone may not be enough to help the famed deliverymen survive the pandemic."It is paramount for them to be flexible at this point," said Sreedevi R, an assistant professor at Mumbai's SP Jain Institute of Management and Research.
"The dabbawalas could become delivery agents for last-mile delivery not just for restaurants but also for any e-commerce business," she told AFP.But a lack of literacy means many of them are reluctant to take on work that requires tech-savvy skills. headtopics.com
Muke, of the dabbawala representative group, is instead finalising plans to set up a commercial kitchen of their own, delivering inexpensive meals across Mumbai.He has already secured millions of dollars in donations, including a hefty $2 million contribution from banking giant HSBC, with the kitchen due to open in the next few weeks.
"My grandfather was a dabbawala, and then my uncle and now I am," Muke said."This is the work that I like doing. I want to keep delivering food to people." Read more: Yahoo Singapore »
North Korea puts hazmat suits on parade for national day, but no missiles
SEOUL — North Korea celebrated the 73rd anniversary of its foundation with a night-time military parade in the capital, state media reported on Thursday (Sept 9), publishing photographs of marching rows of personnel in orange hazmat suits but no ballistic missiles.
From Detroit to Germany to Mumbai, climate change is worsening torrential downpoursThanks to climate change, the Earth’s atmosphere now holds more moisture than in decades past, which is, in part, leading to more frequent extreme rainfall events, experts say.
India denies millions have died from COVID-19The Indian government rejected on Thursday recent studies suggesting that millions of people have died in the country from Covid-19, several times ... Dictator Modi caused the India great calamity. As a totally uneducated man, Modi is leading India deeper and deeper into disatser
India overhauls petroleum reserve policy to boost private interest: ReportIndia has decided to commercialise half of its current strategic petroleum reserves (SPRs) as the nation looks to enhance private participation in ...
India denies millions have died from Covid-19The Indian government rejected on Thursday recent studies suggesting that millions of people have died in the country from Covid-19, several times the official toll of almost 420,000.
India cabinet eases foreign investment rules to aid BPCL sale - sourcesIndia's federal cabinet approved plans on Thursday to allow 100per cent foreign direct investment in state-run oil companies in which a strategic ... Being cancer-stricken and begging CPF Board to repay overdue debt; that which in any case cannot be done as the money had been commingled and funneled to private entity Temasek Holdings for Ho Ching to wager on unviable, untenable and ultimately, invariably doomed gambles
India denies millions have died from Covid-19