British multinational banking and financial services holding company HSBC has announced a grant worth Rs 15 crore to support the dabbawalas of Mumbai, who have been out of work since the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020. The financial assistance will include help on food security, life insurance, education support for their families, and new bicycles once lockdowns are lifted, as per the HSBC statement.
The dabbawalas have a very layered and complex network of tiffin carriers. In this network, a person picks up tiffin from the residence of a job goer on a bicycle, passes it on to someone who takes it to the luggage compartment of suburban trains, who passes it on to another colleague who takes the tiffin to the destination on a bicycle.
"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," HSBC's interim CEO in India Hitendra Dave said. Dave added the UK-based lender is working with the United Way Mumbai NGO to reach out and help the dabbawalas, hoping to help them tide through these difficult times.
The HSBC statement mentioned the dabbawalas bore the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic as more and more people started working from home due to lockdowns and other restrictions.
"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 financial crisis and it has been difficult for them to feed their families," President of the Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Charity Trust Ulhas Mulke said. Mulke added many dabbawalas have gone back to their villages, are working as vegetable sellers and drivers.
Mulke stated that mobile tabs provided by HSBC will help the dabbawalas' children to study on an individual basis as most of them are studying in groups using a common smartphone while new bicycles will be helpful as repair cost for the older bicycles is very high.
Edited by Mehak Agarwal; with PTI inputs
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