MULTIMEDIA PITTSBURGH PRESENTS PAUL S. GOODMAN’S DOCUMENTARY
ABOUT THE DABBAWALLAS OF MUMBAI, INDIA
Program to be released nationally to public television stations
beginning January 4, 2004
PA - Every day 4,000 dabbawallas pick up more
than 100,000 lunches at homes in Mumbai, India, and deliver the
to their places of work. The dabbawallas (or “box people”)
sort the lunches multiple times and transport them by bicycle,
cart and train. Paul S. Goodman of Carnegie Mellon University
captures this more than 100-year-old work system in his documentary, “ The
The program is being distributed by American Public Television
and will be available to public television stations across the
country beginning January 4, 2004. WQED Multimedia Pittsburgh is
the presenting station for this Paul S. Goodman production.
the Richard M. Cyert Professor of Organizational Psychology at
Mellon’s Graduate School of Industrial Administration,
was astonished to learn just how efficient and reliable the dabbawallas’ operation
is without the help of any of today’s technological or business
“They have developed an extremely complex and highly reliable
system of work with none of the technology or practices that the
industrial world thinks is necessary. It is a compelling example
of what we in developed countries can learn from other countries,” said
the dabbawallas’ success even more impressive is the
fact that Mumbai, India, formerly Bombay, is continually growing
and becoming more congested. The complicated network of streets
and look-a-like buildings makes it difficult for the city’s
more than 16 million residents to get around. Yet the dabbawallas
deliver lunches to the right person at the right time 96 percent
of the time.
dabbawallas have mastered their city and their business. They
provide an inexpensive
yet invaluable service to the Indian
people for about 180 rupees or $4 per month. Many workers in India
choose to comply with strict dietary guidelines dictated by their
religion. Because the dietary guidelines are critical, Mumbai’s
workers trust only those they know to prepare the food they eat.
Others cannot afford to purchase a lunch, and most couldn’t
carry a lunch if they wanted to because the commuter trains are
so crowded there is no room to carry anything at all.
and pickup process mirrors what companies such as Federal Express
strive for each day. However,
the dabbawallas complete their work without computers, information
technology or any current business practices. As the film unfolds,
the viewer is exposed to unique forms of human and social ingenuity,
set in the streets of Bombay. “They provide a different picture — a
complicated system of working built around human ingenuity and
supportive social arrangements that has long been absent from U.S.
industry,” said Goodman.
Goodman has been researching people at work for more than 30 years.
He has made numerous educational videos about such groups as string
quartets, steelworkers, nurses and lobstermen in Maine. Goodman
worked with an Indian producer, film crew and composer to produce “The
Dabbawallas.” It took two years to produce.
For more information on the documentary, contact Paul Goodman
at 412-268-2288 or email@example.com. For program release information,
contact Keyola Panza at WQED Multimedia Pittsburgh.
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