Microsoft ties up with Mumbai’s Dabbawallas to promote Vista

Mumbai’s dab­bawal­las never cease to amaze me. They have received temen­dous pub­lic­ity in the last few years, mostly because of the Six Sigma cer­ti­fi­ca­tion by Forbes, the Prince Charles visit and wed­ding invi­ta­tion, and the sup­port of Virgin’s Richard Bramson.

But this was news to me: “Microsoft has tied up with Dab­bawal­las to Offer ‘Asli­wala PC Offer’. The main aim of this cam­paign is to spread the aware­ness about the ben­e­fits of gen­uine Win­dows soft­ware. Under this scheme the leaflets will be dis­trib­uted to 2 lakh cus­tomers of Dab­bawal­las with the mes­sage about the ben­e­fits of gen­uine Win­dows software.

Against this leaflets cus­tomers may buy PC, Lap­tops, etc from Zenith com­put­ers at dis­counted prices. Dab­bawal­las will be wear­ing the T-Shirt and cap of Microsoft Vista — the new oper­at­ing sys­tem recently launched by Microsoft. Your friendly Dab­bawalla will be paid Rs. 100/- for every PC or Lap­top sold through this scheme.”

Read the orig­i­nal “press release” straight from the Dab­bawalas themselves!

I’m so happy to see this 120-year old insti­tu­tion grow­ing more than ever.

In the News

There is a ser­vice called FedEx that is sim­i­lar to ours — but they don’t deliver lunch.“
Recent New York Times story.

On a bicy­cle we are king of the road, We can go down no-entry roads, through red lights. You can’t do that in your car, can you?“
An account from The Independent

Unrav­el­ing the Color Cod­ing (From Mumbai’s Amaz­ing Dab­bawalas)
Dabba Symbols

Man­age­ment Gyaan

(From What You Can Learn From A Dab­bawala, and Mumbai’s Amaz­ing Dab­bawalas)

  • Error is hor­ror!” In the event of a dab­bawalla meet­ing with an acci­dent en route, alter­na­tive arrange­ments are made to deliver the lunch boxes.
  • The dab­bawalas must be extremely dis­ci­plined. Con­sum­ing alco­hol while on duty attracts a fine of Rs 1,000. Unwar­ranted absen­teeism is not tol­er­ated and is treated with a sim­i­lar fine.
  • Brand­ing: The Gandhi cap serves as a potent sym­bol of iden­ti­fi­ca­tion in the crowded rail­way sta­tions. Not wear­ing the cap attracts a fine of Rs 25.
  • No retire­ment age, and any per­son can work till he is fit enough to carry on the tasks required of him.
  • Put the cus­tomer ahead of every­thing else. It is said that when Prince Charles expressed a desire to meet them dur­ing his visit in 2003, the dab­bawal­las requested him to sched­ule the meet­ing such that it did not inter­fere with their mid-day deliv­ery timings.

Quotable Quotes

(From Walk the Talk with Shekhar Gupta, The Indian Express)

  • Our com­puter is our head and our Gandhi Cap is the com­puter cover to pro­tect it from the sun or rain.”
  • The une­d­u­cated have an abil­ity to mem­o­rize and retain more as opposed to the edu­cated who are used to writ­ing down everything.”
  • Till one is 25–30 years old, you can eat any­where, but after that home cooked food is what suits the the stom­ach and health.”
  • Even if some­one in their fam­ily falls ill, they first deliver the food and then attend to them.”
  • Our ances­tors fought in Shivaji’s army and just the way they had to climb moun­tains while fight­ing, we have to climb stairs to deliver the tiffins.”
  • I made every worker a share­holder. This way they would put in more effort and since every­one is a share­holder, there would be no ques­tion of a union or strike.”
  • Q. “Have any of your dis­putes reached the police or the courts”
  • A. “No, never.”
  • Q. “How did the peo­ple in Italy react to you?”
  • A. “They are amazed that une­d­u­cated peo­ple like us can carry out a busi­ness like ours so accu­rately. They rely on their call cen­tres for every small prob­lem whereas we have to be accu­rate with our deliv­ery every sin­gle time.”

Nuff said!

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  • krishashok

    Yeah right. The world’s bug­gi­est oper­at­ing sys­tem wants the world’s most effi­cient deliv­ery sys­tem to be their adver­tise­ment? Like Mother Teresa in a Pol Pot sup­port ad?

  • Sarat