HSBC India has pledged financial assistance to the tune of INR 15 crore to support the dabbawalas of Mumbai. This support will be provided in association with United Way Mumbai and is aimed at providing relief to dabbawalas who have been adversely impacted due to the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns. 

The donation will be utilised for a range of interventions to address the loss of income and livelihood of Mumbai’s renowned dabbawalas, broadly covering food security, life insurance, education support, and livelihood support. Each dabbawala will be provided ration and hygiene material supplies for three months. Financial protection in the form of life-insurance cover will be provided through tie-ups with insurance providers. Educational tabs and access to digital resources will be provided to school-aged children/grandchildren of dabbawalas whose education has been impacted due to a lack of smartphones at home, to facilitate online learning. With schools likely to continue classes virtually for a few more months, this support will be crucial in bridging the learning gap. Lastly, the dabbawalas will also be provided cycles, their primary mode of transport, for them to resume services. 

Referring to the dabbawalas as an integral part of Mumbai’s workforce and community, Hitendra Dave, interim CEO, HSBC India, said that the support being extended to them ‘is in line with our endeavour of supporting the communities where we operate.’

Throwing light on the dabbawalas’ struggle, Ulhas Muke, president, Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Charity Trust, said, ‘The dabbawala service has never been shut in the past 130 years. But since March 2020 it has come to a total standstill. With no earnings over the past 14 months, dabbawalas are in a financial crisis and it has been difficult for them to feed their families. Many of them had to return to their villages as survival in Mumbai is tough. Many have taken up temporary livelihoods such as selling vegetables and working as drivers.’ Acknowledging HSBC India’s initiative, he said this will help the families cope with these very difficult times.