Dressed in a white outfit and a traditional Gandhi cap, Dr. Pawan Agrawal, entered the assembly hall smiling, with his hands folded in respect while greeting the gathered crowd. The very presence of him exuded an aura of confidence.

There stood a man, who made a 100% fool proof supply chain work efficiently. The “Dabbawallas”, with pride he uttered the word. The dabbawallas constitute a lunchbox delivery and return system that delivers hot lunches from homes and restaurants to people at work in India, especially in Mumbai. The lunchboxes are picked up late in the morning, delivered predominantly using bicycles and railway (suburban) trains, and returned empty in the afternoon.

The very thought that their customer’s wife might have kept a tablet of medicine or the simple consideration that they have sacrificed a cozy sleep to prepare the lunchbox or the fact that Mumbai trains are so crowded that their customers should be luggage free on both hands, are the littlest of

things that form up the philosophy of an efficient supply chain that has an almost zero margin of error. Using only a color coding system, the make sure the right boxes reach the right destination.

He mingled with the students with ease, and conveyed his lessons riding on emotions. There was rapt attention from the student crowd, and there was a mass applause that broke out every now and then. It was entrepreneurship that was founded on philosophies being taught as a lesson in Supply Chain.

Dr. Pawan has done his PhD research in "A Study & Logistics & Supply Chain Management of Dabbawalla in Mumbai". He has presented the efficiency of dabbawallas in many forums. Vouching for this well designed work plan, he convinced us how even an uneducated lot of dabbawallas are able to handle the operations of a supply chain. 

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