Recent Posts

Walking with Nanak – By Haroon Khalid (Book Review)

Walking with Nanak – By Haroon Khalid (Book Review)

I finished reading Walking with Nanak yesterday night. It’s a very beautiful read. The author Haroon Khalid had been fascinated with Nanak since childhood. He wanted to search and know more about his life. He travels across Pakistan wherever Nanak went. Following his footsteps (as […]

Taarein hai baarati – Peru Folklore

Taarein hai baarati – Peru Folklore

We all have list of favorite songs. I am sure Taarein hai baarati is in the favorite list of almost everyone. Originally it is an Andean folk music. Andean music is a group of styles of music from the Andes region in South America. Original […]

Mumbai Story 2 – Dabbawalas: Lifeline of Mumbaikars Daily Lunch

Mumbai Story 2 – Dabbawalas: Lifeline of Mumbaikars Daily Lunch

About 125 years ago, a Parsi banker wanted to have home-cooked food in his office and hired someone to collect it from his home and bring it to him at work. He was the first ever Dabbawala or tiffin carrier. Many people liked the idea and the demand for Dabba delivery soared.

In the beginning the deliveries were informal, with arrangements being made between workers and Dabbas. But one day an Indian entrepreneur Mahadeo Havaji Bachche saw the opportunity and started the lunch delivery service. He started with a team of 100 Dabbawalas.

As the city grew, the demand for Dabba delivery grew too.

The system has developed and from the original 100 Dabbawalas in 1890 there is today a Mumbai Army of 5,000 Dabbawalas fulfilling the hunger of almost 200,000 workers with home-cooked food brought from their home to their office and back each day and on time.

The people who use the service tend to be middle-class citizens who, for reasons of economy, hygiene, caste and dietary restrictions or simply because they prefer whole-some food from their kitchen, rely on the dabbawala to deliver a home cooked mid-day meal.

Most of them reach work by train, which means they leave home early and may be boarding chaotically packed carriages, making carrying their own tiffin a challenge. The Dabbawalla system provides a welcome solution by collecting meals prepared at home, then getting them to the office and back.

Today let’s see the life of a dabbawala who live in slums and have a just in time delivery record be in summer, winter, floods, rains, etc. 

“People Living in Slums are the one who actually runs the city of MUMBAI”

Life of Dabbawala Vitthalbhai

Life of Shankar

See a day in the life of Shankar — one of 5,000 Dabbawalas in Mumbai responsible for delivering 200,000 fresh home-cooked lunches to Mumbai’s office workers each day. Each day, with 60kg on his head, a Dabbawala travels some 65km. This home-cooked network makes less than 1 mistake per 6 million deliveries.

Life of Dabbawalas

Singapore’s public housing has led to creation of jobs, safer living conditions for residents

Singapore’s public housing has led to creation of jobs, safer living conditions for residents

From an economically and socially under-developed country to one of the world’s best nations, Singapore has come a long way. Lacking in natural minerals and resources, it drew its strength from being a “stable and progressive economy” to drive more foreign direct investments and private […]

Catch-22 Book Review

Catch-22 Book Review

Catch-22 is a tragicomic novel specifying the efforts of a man named Yossarian, a captain in the US Army Air Force, to avoid flying any more combat missions. The novel takes place on Pianosa, a small Italian island, during the Second World War. At first he tries […]

Mumbai Story 1 – Rani and Wahida

Mumbai Story 1 – Rani and Wahida

The story of Rani and Wahida

Textile workers in slums

Rani’s family lived in one of the peripheral slums of the Basti called Prem Nagar Slums, one of the most deprived precincts and also the most crowded. The average monthly income of a family there barely exceeds 3000 Rupees. Rani lived with her mother, two unmarried sisters and a married sister and her family in their two rooms arranged one on top of the other. The married sister occupied the top room. Half of the bottom room was occupied by a bed and the remaining floor space at the back was used for cooking, storage and for sitting around. The room had windowless walls on three sides and only opened onto the street in front. Rani’s mother had carved out a small shop selling cigarettes in the front of the room. There was no attached toilet or any piped water supply in this house.

When she was 11 years old, Rani kept a journal for me for a week, recording her day before she went to sleep. This account of her life provides some valuable glimpses about the multiple roles a girl child plays in this community. Rani was responsible for fetching milk for tea for her family every morning from Hasan Bhai’s tea stall. She would meet and chat with friends and neighbours here. In poor families such as hers, food is purchased on a daily basis, as there are no refrigerators for storing groceries.

Rani was a good practising Muslim. She washed herself in the morning and routinely offered all five prayers, or namaz, throughout the day. She called on her friend Meher, who lived around the corner, every morning and walked with her to non-formal school for adolescent girls. Rani performed daily household chores and shopping for the family, fetching cigarettes, snacks and groceries both for her mother’s shop and for home. Rani acted as guardian to her little niece, playing with her, feeding her, looking after her. She was a part-time shopkeeper, and sat in their small house-front shop to relieve her mother of her shopkeeping duties for some time every day.

Rani was a good student; other girls came to her for homework help. She bought sweets with small change, liked to play with domestic pets and with friends in the street in front of her house, in the nearby open spaces including the yard of the public toilet across from her house, in Meher’s back yard, and in the city park that was just outside the wall that separated her street from the park. Rani’s two older unmarried sisters took care of the cooking, cleaning and washing.

Rani had a friend called Wahida – unlike her, an orphan who had grown up in many households. Wahida split her time between the houses of her older siblings, her grandmother and her friend Rani’s family. Her days were filled with household chores, besides attending the non-formal Hope school and evening religious studies. Wahida also attended a vocational training course in tailoring and sewing every afternoon.

Both Rani and Wahida had grown up in severe poverty. Rani’s father had died of a drug overdose after reducing the family to penury. Rani’s mother barely earned a dollar a day from her shop and found it difficult to pay even the two rupees that would have bought Rani a hot lunch at school. Wahida had no one to watch over her and depended on charity for meals and a roof for the night. Yet both girls not only survived but thrived in this slum which represents one of the best examples of social capital in an urban neighborhood. Seven years later, Rani and Wahida have both successfully completed school and are undergoing training as nursery teachers. Wahida is also working as an assistant to a city physiotherapist.

People like Rani and Wahida take vocational training in tailoring, etc and are actually the source workers for your designer clothes.

Connect with 0 Slums Mumbai on Facebook / Twitter / Instagram – @0SlumsMumbai

0 Slums Mumbai – Public Housing Awareness
Public Housing

Public Housing

The terms “affordable housing” and “public housing” are frequently used interchangeably, causing a lot of confusion in the process. They are actually two very different. Affordable housing refers to housing units that are affordable by that section of society whose income is below the median […]

The Slums of Mumbai

The Slums of Mumbai

Everywhere on the ground lay sleeping natives– hundreds and hundreds. They lay stretched at full length and tightly wrapped in blankets, heads and all. Their attitude and rigidity counterfeited death. – Mark Twain, on a nocturnal drive through Bombay in 1896. The Early History of […]

Partition – Majority of Punjab was allotted to Pakistan

Partition – Majority of Punjab was allotted to Pakistan

I came across an old map of Punjab and immediately thought of writing this article. How many people know that who drew this border? The answer is Cyril Radcliffe.

Cyril Radcliffe

The information provided to Cyril Radcliffe who drew the borders and divided India and Pakistan once said that the information given to him about the geography, demographics and even the maps were inaccurate and in some cases even false.

He said that the job of drawing borders was very difficult and it was made even more difficult by the inadequate equipment, maps, and information provided to him. There were no large-scale maps and the information about the geography was inadequate and often wrong. About Punjab, he specifically said he noticed that the 5 rivers in Punjab had a tendency to run several miles away from the beds in the maps given to him by the survey department.

He also said that the information about the demographics was also wrong. And that all this information was falsified by both the parties to falsify the opposition’s claims.

The price was however paid by millions of people who lost their lives during partition.

Apart from religion; it was demography, ignorance, and callousness.

As you can see from the map above; undivided Punjab included the princely states of Patiala, Kapurthala, Jind, Bahawalpur, the Hill States(present-day Himachal Pradesh); stretching all the way to Gurugram(Gurgaon, present-day Haryana, NCR). Lahore was the capital of the undived Punjab; where Muslims were in a slight majority(52%) over the Hindus and the Sikhs who controlled most of the commerce.

After the passage of the Indian Independence Act(1947); Clement Attlee’s Labour government was in a hurry to exit its dominion. So; this consequently resulted in some of the most callous acts in global history. Cyril Radcliffe was given the chairmanship of the two boundary committees. He submitted his partition map on 9 August 1947, which split Punjab and Bengal almost in half. The new boundaries were formally announced on 14 August 1947—the day of Pakistan’s independence and the day before India became independent.

Radcliffe’s efforts saw some 14 million people—roughly seven million from each side—flee across the border when they discovered the new boundaries left them in the “wrong” country. Some 500,000 people died in the violence that ensued after independence, and millions more were injured.

The Punjab – the region of the five rivers east of Indus: Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas, and Sutlej — consists of interfluvial doabs or tracts of land lying between two confluent rivers.

Doab (from dō, “two” + āb, “water” or “river”) is a term used in India and Pakistan for the “tongue,” or tract of land lying between two converging, or confluent, rivers.

These are the Sind-Sagar doab (between Indus and Jhelum), the Jech doab (Jhelum/Chenab), the Rechna Doab (Chenab/Ravi), the Bari doab (Ravi/Beas), and the Bist doab (Beas/Sutlej) In early 1947, in the months leading up to the deliberations of the Punjab Boundary Commission, the main disputed areas appeared to be in the Bari and Bist doabs, although some areas in the Rechna doab were claimed by the Congress and Sikhs. In the Bari doab, the districts of Gurdaspur, Amritsar, Lahore, and Montgomery (Sahiwal) were all disputed.

After arriving in India on 8 July 1947, Radcliffe was given just five weeks to decide on a border.Each boundary commission consisted of 5 people – a chairman (Radcliffe), 2 members nominated by the Indian National Congress and 2 members nominated by the Muslim League.

All lawyers by trade, Radcliffe and the other commissioners had all of the polish and none of the specialized knowledge needed for the task. They had no advisers to inform them of the well-established procedures and information needed to draw a boundary. Nor was there time to gather the survey and regional information. The absence of some experts and advisers, such as the United Nations, was deliberate, to avoid delay. Britain’s new Labour government deep in wartime debt, simply couldn’t afford to hold on to its increasingly unstable empire.

The absence of outside participants—for example, from the United Nations—also satisfied the British Government’s urgent desire to save face by avoiding the appearance that it required outside help to govern—or stop governing—its own empire.

Prior to his appointment; Radcliffe had never been to India, and after the partition never came back(partly due to guilt; and he was also a little afraid). Radcliffe justified his casual division with the fact that whatever he would do; people were going to suffer. Before leaving India; he destroyed most of his papers.

To maintain his impartiality; he kept a distance from Mountbatten. As for the fact that India had a larger population to feed; this simply did not figure in the map-makers mindscape. Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs were evenly spread in the Punjab; and most places witnessed large-scale migrations on both sides of the imaginary Radcliffe line. He initially decided to give Lahore to India but backtracked as Calcutta was going to be part of the republic. Radcliffe wanted to balance out the whole play; regardless of its human quotient. To give India access to Kashmir; Gurdaspur was awarded at the last moment. So; to sum up it was largely a case of cartography deciding history and destiny.

Visit Us On TwitterVisit Us On FacebookVisit Us On Google PlusVisit Us On PinterestVisit Us On YoutubeVisit Us On LinkedinVisit Us On Instagram