Pandemic-hit dabbawalas of Mumbai could soon breathe a sigh of relief as HSBC India has pledged to provide COVID-19 relief to the community. Monetary benefits aside, here’s all that the British multinational investment bank has planned. By Presha Mahajan
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With the dawning of the pandemic, Mumbai’s dabbawalas were one of the worst-hit communities in the country. Since March 2020, they have essentially been out of business. Ordinarily catering to about 2 lakh people every day, the pervasive lockdown terminated all of their operations, given that their customers are now working from home.
However, the 130-year-old dabbawala network is now being offered financial aid, with HSBC India pledging INR 15 crore for the tiffin carriers. The relief package and assistance that will come their way will include food security with ration supplies for three months; life insurance cover; educational support for their children and grandchildren; and, most importantly, cycles—their primary mode of livelihood. Extending financial assistance will ensure that the dabbawalas stay afloat during these trying times. The bank is reportedly reaching out to dabbawalas by working in collaboration with an NGO, United Way Mumbai.
By providing mobile tablets to the families, children will now be able to study without having to share one device in large groups. The new cycles will replace the old, obsolete ones that now incur high and unaffordable repair costs.
“The dabbawalas have defined the grit and spirit of the city of Mumbai. An integral part of the city’s workforce and community, they have been hit hard by the pandemic with loss of livelihood,” says Hitendra Dave, HSBC Interim CEO, reports The Times of India.
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Recently, Social‚ a popular restaurant chain in India also joined forces with the community where dabbawalas made food deliveries to and from the restaurant.
According to Ulhas Muke, the President of the Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Charity Trust, dabbawala services have been brought to a standstill for the first time in 130 years. It has been hard to provide for the family in the midst of a financial crisis with no income for over 14 months. Now, as a means to survive, many have gone back to their villages, or have picked up different occupations as drivers or grocery sellers. This move by HSBC comes as a ray of hope and a push to be resilient.
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