Thursday, December 25, 2008


In the evening in a small inauguration ceremony we had a small lecture on dabbawallahs..
Everyone I guess knows about the dabbawallahs or has at least heard about this system. But many few of us know the finer details.
Dabbawallah system started way back in 1890 during the British time. It so happened, that one of the Parsi banker did not want to eat outside food for his lunch because of two reasons, one that his bank balance was rapidly going down and next his doctor fees was rapidly going up. So he hired a personal servant who would go to his home in afternoon and bring his lunch cooked by his wife.
Now Avaji bacchi (I have to verify this name as I could not hear it properly and net connection is too slow to verify) saw this and thought that it was a good market need and that there should be loads of people like the Parsi Banker. So he started the Dabba service and one of the most initial dabbawallas were farmers who practically did not have any work for half the year.
Today that humble beginning has grown tremendously and has survived for about 118 years and one the most primary reasons for it surviving is according to Manish is that all the Dabbawallas are stake holders. Manish high lights some of the key achievements of this system.

1. There are about 450 dabbawallahs in Mumbai
2. Their yearly revenue is about 10Million.
3. And most importantly in all 118 years this institution has not gone for a strike even once :) :).

Manish Tripathi then says that, "Over the years working with this system I have learnt one important lesson, I am going to share the secret of this success with you. And my secret about this is that it is very difficult to manage the educated people"

He explaines, "If I have Karsanbhai dabbawalla and an IIM graduate with me and I ask them to deliver one dabba from Andheri to Dadar. By the time I tell Dadar Karsanbhai would already be running to deliver the box while IIM graduate would be asking hundreds of question as to the best method of doing it and reason for doing it and so on"He then says that 85% of dabbawallas are thumps up i.e they cannot read and write. Then he puts this all important lesson, "I am not saying that you should hire uneducated people. All I am saying is that you should hire suitably educated people. If you need graduate and you hire post graduate then all he/she would do is to go to and look for a better job”

Manish finished his talk by giving the important lesson that most important thing in entrepreneurship is to solve the problems. And if you are committed to solving the problem money and everything will automatically follow.
Manish did not use any great poems or great lines to give his talk and it was not pre-prepared talk. It was straight from the heart and what he had learnt over the years, very simple and straightforward, I guess very much reflecting the culture of Dabbawallahs.


Chaitanya Sai said...

Yo Golu, do you have a flickr account? Why not post pics there?

Navreet said...

Manish is bang on the mark about managing educated people !

Goli said...

@chaitanya, I have flickr account and will start posting pics there soon.

@Navreet :D

Squamble said...

Yes they are the one to be saluted.
Nice logistic and Supply chain managemnet.
From Mumbai to London at Prince Charls wedding. They have done it.
Secrets of Dabbawallahs