Friday October 19, 2018

“Roti Bank”- Mumbai Dabbawalla’s Initiative to Erase Hunger

Dabbawallas of Mumbai are also looking forward to sharing their thoughts in other Indian cities such as Lucknow, Noida, and Hubli.

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Dabbawallas in Mumbai. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
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There’s an old saying “To survive on this planet you’ll need 3 things. Guess what? Well, folks!! Roti (bread), kapda (Clothes) and makaan (shelter) it is.

Here’s a strange fact. Although there is plenty of food produced by the farmers of India, but it is not evenly distributed among the people. India ranks 3rd in the world for obesity constituting 46 million obese citizens (according to the journal Lancet). At the same time, it also is the hungriest nation of the world. The Dabbawallas (meaning the one with boxes) of Mumbai have taken an initiative to help the underprivileged gain access to food. As a part of their accountability towards society, some initiatives have been taken by the Dabbawallas so that the nation doesn’t go hungry-

  • Maharastrain weddings are generally big fat weddings. There is so much of investment, showcase, latest trends are done there. It is indeed an expensive affair. With so much of pomp and grandeur, with it comes food wastage which is very common in these marriages.
  • The Dabbawallas of Mumbai have come up with an interesting project named ‘Roti bank’. Their aim is to distribute the leftovers evenly among the underprivileged class.
  • One of the co-founders of this initiative Dashrath Kedare (also the leader of dabbawalla union) even said: “We deal with food every day, so we’re ideally placed to fix this”.
  • They believe that In India there are schemes such as midday meals for poor children of our society and even religious charities such as Langars in Gurudwaras (Sikh temples) are organised. But no one is focusing towards the leftovers.
  • An average Indian marriage comprises of at least 100 people and at most 2500. A quarter of the food that’s prepared is always thrown away. Thousands of tons of food is trashed every day in a similar fashion. Union leaders add that it needs to be properly distributed within a limited span of time. Otherwise, the food will spoil.
  • These dabbawallas have formed an extensive network in the whole city. With more than 4000 members in their union, they are an integral part of Mumbai’s social life.Even Harvard Business school has done a case study on these efficient dabbawallas. They know exactly where those homeless lives live.
Leftover food materials, Wikimedia commons
Leftover food, Wikimedia commons
  • They have a unanimous support for this initiative. The first pickup was done in December, from an event organised by an airline. Their impact was so influential that more than 30 wedding planners have now partnered with them. They get 20-30 calls every day. Their response rate is way too high.

Related article:Improvement and malnutrition in India

  • Those dabbawallas earn about 180$ a month along with their monthly train passes and reimbursement for bicycle maintenance. They prefer to work in pairs. However, some work during their morning shifts while some do it during their afternoon shifts.

    A packed Dabba containig food, Wikimedia commons
    A packed Dabba containig food, Wikimedia commons
  • They are looking forward to taking it to a broader level by having a tie-up with NGOs across the country. Rotibankidia.com is a new website launched by Talekdar and Kedare (leaders of the Dabbawallas union). People can donate their leftover foodstuffs via this repository website.
  • Setting up collection points at various local railway stations, they are trying to convert smaller contributions to into a substantial amount. They are also looking forward to sharing their thoughts in other Indian cities (with similar scenarios) such as Lucknow, Noida, and Hubli.
  • Even though these dabbawallas play a small role in our society but with the amount of kindness and the large heart that they possess, these people have certainly impressed all with their collaborative efforts. They feel accountable towards the society and are comparitvely better than those upper class people who have plenty to do on their part but are unwilling to do so.

Prepared by Pritam

Pritam is a 3rd year engineering student in B.P. Poddar institute of management and technology, Kolkata. A simple person who tries to innovate and improvise himself.

Twitter handle @pritam_gogreen

 

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  • Pragya Jha

    being a dabbahwala is not an easy task. Its a 9 hour job they perform.

Next Story

Farmers To Grow Modified Cotton With Its Seed Edible

Many of the world’s roughly 80 cotton-producing countries, especially in Asia and Africa, have populations that face malnutrition that could be addressed with the new plant

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Cotton
An experimental cotton plant is shown at a Texas A&M research facility in this handout image provided by the Texas A&M University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in College Station, Texas, U.S. VOA

U.S. regulators have cleared the way for farmers to grow a cotton plant genetically modified to make the cottonseed edible for people, a protein-packed potential new food source that could be especially useful in cotton-growing countries beset with malnutrition.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service on Tuesday lifted the regulatory prohibition on cultivation by farmers of the cotton plant, which was developed by Texas A&M University scientists. The plant’s cottonseed cannot be used as food for people or as animal feed yet in the United States because it lacks Food and Drug Administration approval.

Cotton
Cotton plant. pixabay

Cotton is widely grown around the world, with its fiber used to make textiles and the cottonseed used among other things to feed animals such as cattle and sheep that have multiple stomach chambers. Ordinary cottonseed is unfit for humans and many animals to eat because it contains high levels of gossypol, a toxic chemical.

With financial help from a cotton industry group, scientists led by Texas A&M AgriLife Research plant biotechnologist Keerti Rathore used so-called RNAi, or RNA interference, technology to “silence” a gene, virtually eliminating gossypol from the cottonseed. They left gossypol at natural levels in the rest of the plant because it guards against insects and disease.

“To me, personally, it tastes somewhat like chickpea and it could easily be used to make a tasty hummus,” Rathore said of gossypol-free cottonseed.

After cottonseed oil, which can be used for cooking, is extracted, the remaining high-protein meal from the new cotton plant can find many uses, Rathore said.

Cotton
If all of the cottonseed currently produced worldwide were used for human nutrition, it could meet the daily protein requirements of about 575 million people. Pixabay

It can be turned into flour for use in breads, tortillas and other baked goods and used in protein bars, while whole cottonseed kernels, roasted and salted, can be consumed as a snack or to create a peanut butter type of paste, Rathore added.

If all of the cottonseed currently produced worldwide were used for human nutrition, it could meet the daily protein requirements of about 575 million people, Rathore said.

Other countries would have to give regulatory approval for the new cotton plant to be grown, though U.S. regulatory action often is taken into consideration.

Also Read: Food Cooked on The Barbecue Can Impair Your Lungs

The new cottonseed’s biggest commercial use may be as feed for poultry, swine and farmed aquatic species like fish and shrimp, Rathore said.

Many of the world’s roughly 80 cotton-producing countries, especially in Asia and Africa, have populations that face malnutrition that could be addressed with the new plant, Rathore added. (VOA)