Mumbai dabbawalas to back Hazare’s fast

August 5th, 2011 - 6:49 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, Aug 5 (IANS) Mumbai’s famed dabbawalas (tiffin-box carriers) have again decided to support anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare in his second fast for the Lokpal bill Aug 16, an official said Friday.

“We have decided to request Mumbaikars to refrain from giving their tiffin boxes Aug 16 as a token of support for Hazare,” Kiran Gavande, an office-bearer of Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Charitable Trust, told IANS.

“If possible also keep off food that day,” he said.

However, Gavande made it clear that it would be purely “a voluntary participation” by their over two lakh customers. “If any of them want us to carry their tiffins, we will do it,” he added.

During Hazare’s previous agitation in April at the national capital’s Jantar Mantar, Mumbai dabbawalas also went on a token fast of solidarity.

Later, a couple of representatives were sent to New Delhi to take part in a similar agitation launched by yoga guru Baba Ramdev.

However, the dabbawalas are not calling their daylong support programme a ’strike’ and insist that it is a voluntary participation by all concerned - themselves and the customers.

Gavande pointed out that in the past 120 years of their existence in Mumbai, they have never gone on strike and have worked in all seasons, during vacations and natural or man-made calamities to faithfully deliver the lunch boxes to an fro offices and residences.

The tiffin-box carriers, who can always be seen in perpetual hurry, sporting gleaming white Gandhi caps, are an integral part of Mumbai’s city routine and culture - and have earned praise from all over the world for their dedicated and efficient services.

Nearly 5,000-plus dabbawalas, using suburuban local trains and bicycles, unerringly ensure prompt noon-time delivery of lunch-boxes to their over two lakh hungry customers across the city.

Later, the return journey begins with the empty lunch-boxes delivered back at the customers’ homes by 5 p.m., after which the dabbawalas call it a day.

On an average day, each lunch-box changes hands at least four times in its two-way journey, covering around 60-70 km.

Each box is identified and sorted out by unique identification marks which indicate the source and destination address, the route etc.

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