Mumbai’s Dabbawallahs

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Famed dabbawallahs, whose fans include the likes of Prince Charles and Richard Branson
Voting for the Lok Sabha election may have wrapped up in Maharastra, but with an Assembly election due this October, political manoeuvrings in the state are far from over. An unexpected entrant to this arena has been Mumbai’s famed dabbawallah s, whose fans include the likes of Prince Charles and Richard Branson. Recently, it was announced that a rally of dabbawallahs would be held on 9 May—to demand affirmative action reservations for the Maratha community in educational institutions and jobs.

A spokesperson for their organisation, the Mumbai Jevan Dabbe Vahatuk Mandal, was quoted as saying that their forefathers had been soldiers in Shivaji’s army, but for generations “forced to join the tiffin courier trade since there are no other employment opportunities available”. This demand wouldn’t have been problematic if not for the fact that they are supporting the Shivsangram, an organisation aggressively demanding reservations for Marathas. It is headed by Vinayak Mete, who recently quit the NCP and extended his support to the Shiv Sena-BJP-RPI alliance. Marathas, in reality, are rather powerful politically as a caste group in Maharashtra and are courted by almost all parties. This dabbawallah tack really doesn’t convince anyone.