Dabbawalas' future bleak as gen next thinks beyond the box

Ayan Pramanik Kolkata | Updated on November 15, 2017

BL23DABBA1   -  Business Line

The much-acclaimed dabbawala is facing an uncertain future now!

Confined to the ‘Malakari' community (followers of Vithala), the dabbawala business is now facing a bleak future as the new generation within the legendary profession is reluctant to deliver food to thousands of Mumbaikars in exchange for a paltry pay.

Attributing the 120-year-old business to ‘passion', ‘commitment' and ‘punctuality', Dr Agrawal said even though the dabbawalas have been serving for years, they still get a meagre salary.

“More than 50 per cent of the youth in the dabbawala community are not willing to join this profession as it gives them an average salary of Rs 8000 a month. There has been a very little growth in the number of dabbawalas in the past five years,” said Dr Pawan G. Agrawal, president, Mumbai Dabbawala Education Centre.

Currently, a group of 5,000 dabbawalas carry nearly 2,00,000 lunch boxes in a day and the number is not likely to grow at a higher pace.

If a dabbawala earns Rs 400 per lunch box monthly, he contributes around Rs 20 against each lunch box for the development of the community, according to Dr Agrawal.

Ruling out the probability of expansion for such a business, Dr Agrawal said: “It is not possible for the dabbawalas to go to other cities because of cultural barriers. It can only happen if people from other cities approach the dabbawalas for training and introduce this service in their respective cities on their own.”

Published on February 22, 2012

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