Yeh Hai Mumbai Meri Jaan!
Do businesses thrive best in chaotic conditions? Does adversity bring out the best in us?
The stories of the Mumbai dabbawallahs is now well known and even being studied in MBA courses around the world. It is amazing and mind-boggling how such a system works with clockwork efficiency without the need for advanced technology.
Daily on the streets of Mumbai 5000 dabbawallahs deliver home-cooked meals to 200,000 working people all over the city. A simple colour-code serves as an ID system to identify the destination and recipient and boxes with the same colour code make it to the same trolley. This has been going on for 100 years and in 1998 Forbes Global magazine awarded them a Six Sigma for efficiency. The system works on strong teamwork, time-management and simplicity.
Asia’s largest slum lies right in the middle of India’s financial capital Mumbai. A never-ending stretch of narrow dirty lanes, open sewers and cramped huts is home to more than a million people. Amidst this poverty are several thriving small-scale businesses producing embroidered garments, export quality leather goods, pottery and plastic.
These products are made in tiny manufacturing units spread across the slum and sold to domestic and international markets. The annual business turnover here is estimated to be more than $650m a year.
The Mumbai local
It is also called the lifeline of Mumbai. As many as 6.1 million passengers travel on the Mumbai local daily.
Yet, it is amazing that these trying circumstances can bring out the best in people. In a train where people are literally packed like sardines, the community spirit is nowhere so evident as in a Mumbai local. Some good habits which are ingrained in the passengers are:
Giving up seat to fellow passenger and taking turns to sit down
Helping to keep briefcase on the upper rack during office rush hours
Playing card games to have a good time.
Singing Bollywood songs & bhajans
Cutting vegetables for dinner (ladies compartment)
The above examples show how team-spirit, resilience and a jest for life make living in Mumbai a dream for the locals and a nightmare for visitors.