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Mumbai Dabbawalla- Efficiency without a degree

Monday mornings are the most dreaded ones for every working individual. In Mumbai, the business capital of India, millions of people hustle around without the usual Monday morning blues. What is most evident is the passion and fire to get the most sought after thing in the local train, which is ‘the window seat’. One giant leap and only a few lucky ones succeed in conquering the most coveted seat. But what about the fire in their bellies just about lunch time, who will put that off, especially, if they cannot do without the magic of their mother’s / wife’s fingertips? That is when the Dabbawalla of Mumbai, a 120-plus-year-old service enters the scene, a service that guarantees to deliver your home cooked food right to your place of work. It serves with an efficiency that remains unaffected even in the most extreme of Mumbai weathers.

The concept of the dabbawala originated when India was under the British rule. Many British officers who lived in India did not like the local food, so a service was set up to bring lunch to these people in their workplace, straight from their home. The man behind the vision was Hon. Mahadu Havaji Bache who started the Dabbawala system with a handful of 35 Dabbawalas in 1890. The organization has now transformed into 4,500 –plus dabbawalas who deliver 2,00,000 Dabbas, making close to 4,00,000 transactions every day.

The system the dabbawalas have developed over the years revolves around strong teamwork and strict time-management. At 9am every morning, home-made meals are picked up in special boxes, loaded onto trolleys and pushed to a railway station. They then make their way via local trains to an unloading station where Dabbas are sorted according to destination. The boxes are rearranged so that those going to similar destinations are indicated by a system of coloured lettering. The complete address of the destination is indicated on the dabba by means of simple coding language. The dabbas are further sorted based on the specific area and building. The dabbas are then delivered via cycles, hand carts or even on foot. The meals are delivered—99.9999% of the time, to the right address. An hour later the dabbawallas collect the empty dabbas, meet at the origin station and dispatch the empty boxes back to the residence.

The Dabbawalas at work

Dabbawalas became the first organisation in India and the second in the world to be awarded the coveted Six Sigma performance rating by Forbes magazine, the certificate which sadly lies in a cupboard of their possible office, simply eating dust.  The awards and accolades gathered by them is something that even the Tata’s can feel envious about. They have an ISO 9001: 2000 for excellence in services, certificate by “The Joint Accreditation System Of Australia And New Zealand”. They also have their name in the  coveted Guinness Book of World Records for the best time management and are also registered with Ripley’s Believe it or not. The icing on the cake is that the President of the Dabbawala Organization, Shri Raghunath Dondhiba Medge has been giving lectures at various business management schools, including the Harvard Business School and other colleges across the globe explaining the finer nuances of their business model and why it is so efficient and successful.

The Dabbawalas have an error rate of 1 dabba in every 6 million dabbas that is an accuracy rate of 99.99999%. In today’s technologically advanced time, the Dabbawalas are functioning with utmost accuracy in the absolute lack of technology. They have an excellent supply chain; though, they probably don’t even know what it means. Most of the people working with them are semi-literate but still they read the dabba code correctly and deliver it. Is their business model worth replicating in this digital age is the big question. Even if we replicate it, is it possible to sustain it with the efficiency in which they do? It is the question I leave you with to ponder upon!


Ashwin Govindankutty

Batch 2012-14




“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”   –   Peter Drucker

It felt like that day wouldn’t end. The sheer thought of another lecture put all my insides to sleep. I was mentally planning to cut off when I learnt that we would be discussing leadership as part of General Management! I thought to myself whether leadership truly existed in today’s scenario of corruption and other malpractices and growing public discontent. It was then that I decided to research on the same, only to be inspired to a whole new level.

Thought leadership is a term coined by Joel Kurtzman, for an entity or a person having innovative ideas and great insight supported by a strong vision. Rightly so, leadership is an siesocean made of the many drops of teamwork, excellent communication skills and most importantly sharing of one’s knowledge pool. A thought leader puts the dream of an organisation prior to his interests and eventually creates a sense of commitment, dedication and a sense of ownership in the team members who succeed in sharing a common goal.

Many business-to-business and industrial companies – including GE, Siemens, DuPont and PricewaterhouseCoopers are pioneers of thought leadership. GE has revolutionized the market with the idea of “Green Technology” by developing new ways to tap potential energy in the form of nuclear, gas, solar and wind power as part of their eco-imagination! Siemens is a brand that is a frontrunner in water treatment and purification technology. They have developed Facebook pages to create awareness among people as well.  DuPont, a leading chemical industry for colours has developed studios in New York for budding architects to create and design wonderful buildings using their colours. PWC hassies captured a large market share by developing technology that includes interviews, videos and insights from over 1,200 business leaders in 69 countries around the globe. That is truly brilliant! Consider this: Marie Hattar, vice president and CMO of Cisco provided some great innovative ideas for addressing the employees by creating an open platform for ideas exchange called simply “The platform-opinions and insights from Cisco” What a phenomenal thought leader!  Truly such examples of inspiring people are many.

However as students, words like leadership, vision and other such concepts seem far- fetched and highly improbable to implement. Yet, we inadvertently practice thought leadership as one of us takes the responsibility of the whole class as a CR or when some of us go out of our way to involve team members to strive for excellence in a presentation. Be it helping one another to study or taking initiative to think differently for the betterment of the college, there is a leader in each of us. All that is needed is to realize our untapped potential!

Each of us has something unique in us. If we can strive for excellence and succeed to the pinnacle through innovation and thinking “out of the box” then, the time is not far when articles on us are published.


Neha Vinayak Joshi

PGDM (2012-14)

Jugaad – A way of life..!


I do not intend to write a white paper on ‘what is meant by JUGAAD?’.  By now, every human cell in India is definitely aware of the term. If not, please start living in 2012. Awaken yourself and have a look at your surroundings, you’ll find jugaad in plenty. This article has been written solely for the purpose of creating confusion and is purely intentional.

Now, coming to the topic, JUGAAD!

Does jugaad mean creativity? Well, it probably could, since it is the art of doing things differently and making something out of limited resources. These resources can be time, money, people, space etc. Also one more very desi alternative to the term jugaadis ‘setting’. So much has been said and witnessed about this term, that management gurus have given it a second name, ‘Innovation’. But, many would also argue that this kind of innovation often provides only a short term solution to a problem. This solution bends all the rules and regulations and often, even the laws, which renders it inefficient towards a long term fix.

A result of Jugaad..!

Juggad is a blessing in disguise, which helps us save our skin, when the Almighty fails to answer the prayers of his people, the Janta. Think about this, when the content in our presentation is not up to the mark, we choose to add some attention grabbing videos. This by itself is a kind of Jugaad. Or how about this, many a times, we use jugaad to clear our exams. We divide the syllabus among our friends, each one reads a particular section and explains it to the rest of the group. I still don’t understand how, but mostly, we do fair decently. Jugaad rocks!  One more way of seeing this technique may be called as ‘delegation of work’. It happens in organizations as well. Since independence, India has thrived on Jugaad. Many organizations, no matter how big or small have survived and are growing owing to this one principle.

Many corporates and multinational companies, also, ultimately resort to collaborate in the Jugaadu way with the personnel in power i.e. the Government, to get their work done. Consider the various scams that have happened in the recent past. All these were also a jugaad in some form or the other, involving various ministries. Since, these ministries were part of the government they are not expected to get involved in Jugaad. In such cases, the jugaad failed terribly.

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Jugaad is practised by almost all Indians, in order to make the most of what they have. It is implemented in varied situations, by finding new uses of the existing daily-use objects. Just to quote an instance, every Indian kitchen will definitely have two to three Horlicks or Bournvita glass jars filled with spices like mustard seeds, salt, chilli powder etc. Even my kitchen has a Cadbury Celebrations chocolate jar, which currently stores incense sticks comfortably. Thanks to the length of the jar!

So SIESCOMITES, as I said before, Jugaad is an inevitable term in every Indian’s life. But, it is up to us to draw a line and decide the extent to which we would depend on it. Going overboard with Jugaad could prove to be dangerous, as we tend to think that everything in life can be achieved through it. But the harsh fact is that, not everything in life has a shortcut that could be called Jugaad!


Shrawanthi Amruthwar

PGDM (2012-14)

Home away from Home : SIESCOMS

After completing my Engineering, one fine day I decided to introspect a little bit. Typical to all self-analysis, it was far from pleasant. To say the least, I was lazy, casual and highly indifferent. Though, I wasn’t unhappy, I realised that I lacked a clear sense of focus.

And just when I was wondering about how to straighten things up little by little; like a sermon from God, things changed drastically. On 22nd August 2012, at 2:45 pm, I received the news about successfully getting through one of the best business schools in the city – SIESCOMS! My joy knew no bounds. In a day, I was transformed from a ‘no good’ to an ‘MBA student’!!

After the initial euphoria of this phenomenal make-over died down, the facts dawned on me. I began to realise that I had to cover a huge back log of a month’s studies since I was a late entrant. As I nervously kept contemplating on my decision of joining the course for the first few days at college, I was pleasantly surprised when two of my batch mates from graduation landed up in my division!! I was ecstatic. We were soon able to make up for the loss, thanks to the entire class, which helped us newcomers get into the groove of the process, in a manner that was nothing short of lively and enthusiastic.

Juggling time between the gym, college and myself, I was finally getting into the flow. And that is when our professors bombarded us with a series of projects, assignments and presentations. For a girl with multitudes of sloth, 24 hours seemed to fly by in a jiffy. According to me, presentations are highly over rated and having public speaking phobia just makes matters worse. Look at me now and you’ll find me confidently expressing my view points through these very presentations which I once abhorred. Memories like these instantly fill me with pride because they are an indication that I am changing for the better.

Spending roughly 8 to 9 hours every day rightly makes me call my college, my second home. A home away from home protecting, teaching and nurturing just like every home does. Unconditional love and support from every soul of my second home helps me brave these long hectic hours. Besides that, every day teaches me something new about myself. Working with friends and colleagues, I have come to realise the importance of team work, leadership and sharing. The infrastructure, facilities, professors and the overall ambience make me realise how truly blessed I am.

Truly, it’s been a wonderful time so far and I am proud to call myself a SIESCOMITE!! Hopefully, I will prove myself worthy of this institution which rightly is, my second home!!

By: Neha Vinayak Joshi (PGDM 2012-14)

Sourced by: Ruchika Shrivastava ( PGDM 2012-14)

Top 5 Biotechnology Innovations

Biotechnology – the field that is famously known as the ‘Sunrise Industry’ aims at restoring, improving and providing humans with quality & healthy lives. The latest advancements in the field of medicine and biological sciences are instrumental in bringing about the integration of biology and technology, thereby providing better tools for diagnosis and treatment.

Here are five innovations and findings that have the potential of changing the face of medicine in near future, for good.

Innovation # 1 : Decay-fighting microbes

Tooth decay is caused by bacteria living on the teeth, which convert sugar to lactic acid, thereby, eroding the enamel. A Florida based company; ONI BioPharma has engineered a new strain of bacteria, called SMaRT, which cannot produce lactic acid. In addition, it also releases an antibiotic that kills natural decay causing strain. SMaRT, now in the phase of clinical trials, is relatively simple to use as dentists only need to swab it onto the teeth to keep them healthy for a lifetime.

Innovation # 2 : Liver Scanner

Checking the health of your liver, until now, required a painful biopsy. EchoSens, a French company has developed a machine that scans the organ for damage in a span of just 5 minutes. Since the liver tends to become stiffer as a result of any damage, this scanner called Fibroscan, measures the organ’s elasticity and indicates the health of your liver.

Innovation # 3 : Cancer Spit – Test

It is said that, ‘Cancer that is detected early can be cured’. But the procedures for detection and diagnosis are often painful, which deters patients from taking these tests. Researchers at the University of California have designed a device that can detect oral cancer from a drop of saliva. Proteins associated with cancer cells react with the dyes n the sensor emitting fluorescent light that can be detected by the microscope.

Innovation # 4 : Nerve Regenerator

Nerve fibres can’t grow along injured spinal cords. A nanogel developed by the North-western University elimates this problem. Injected in the form of a fluid, the nanogel self assembles into a scaffold (mesh) of nanofibres. The peptides (proteins) expressed in the fibres signal the stem cells to produce cells that foster nerve development. The scaffold, on the other hand, supports the growth of new axons up and down.

Innovation # 5 : Gastro-intestinal Liner

The pancreas is affected by type II diabetes and gives rise to obesity. A gastrointestinal liner has been developed by Massachusetts-based GI Dynamics which restores healthy weight to an obese individual by preventing food from contacting the intestinal wall. The Endobarrier, a medical device is routed endoscopically through the mouth, requiring no surgical procedures. This device lines the first 2 ft. of the small intestine, where the most calories are absorbed. Even after applying it, nutrients do get absorbed farther down the intestine.

Surely, these innovations indeed bring hope to the field of diagnosis and treatment of the  diseases and conditions that were once considered incurable. Long live Biotechnology!!


By: Bhavika Sachdeva (PG-Biotech 2012-14)

Sourced by: Nitesh Bhele (PG – Bitoech 2012-14)

Edited by: Rahul Girisan (MMS 2012-14)

SarvaJal : Water for all

‘Death toll rises to four!’ – The headline of a leading newspaper. At the first look, it might seem to be the outcome of a building collapse or a derailed local train, but as soon as we read the first few lines of the article, our illusions are demystified. The precious lives have been claimed not by an accident, but instead by diarrhoea, a disease caused by the consumption of polluted water. Unpleasant it seems, but it is indeed a cruel truth, our 65 year old country still has its people falling prey to the lack of the most basic necessity – Clean Water!

One of the major problems staring Bharat, the rural India in the face, is that of clean water. Out the Indian population of about 1.25 billion, around 700 million still lacks access to clean water.  Even today, thousands fall victim to dangerous waterborne diseases like diarrhoea, cholera and typhoid. In many regions, the water even contains harmful chemicals such as excess fluorides, lead and nitrates, which when consumed, lead to serious health concerns. In such pressing situations, a Water ATM or water being sold in portable cans at an extremely affordable rate, might indeed be the much required panacea.

Image: Sarvajal ATM (left) and the water treatment kiosk.

Sarvajal, meaning ‘water for all’, an initiative by Piramal Water Pvt Ltd, is one that is targeted towards rural India’s water problem. Using various innovative ideas they are making an effort to provide clean water to the rural Indian. One among these efforts is the Sarvajal Water ATM also known as ‘the safe water kiosk’. The first of its kind, it gives its customers access to clean water 24×7 using a pre-paid card (or coins) at a cheap rate of 30 paise per litre. These pre-paid cards can be recharged using mobile phones as easily as we recharge the talk-time for our mobiles. As of today, around 17 such ATMs have been installed and are operational in the villages of Gujarat and Rajasthan. Considering the expenses a family might incur with its family members falling sick owing to consumption of unsafe water, the rural Indian today does not mind paying 30 paise per litre for a healthy living.

Now, let us see how this works! These water ATMs have an unmanned transaction console connected to a water tank and water dispenser. The water tank has three crucial modules attached to it. A quality check module, that treats the water and checks its quality; a quantity check module, that keeps an account of the water being purified and dispensed; and a flow-control module that regulates the flow of water through the entire system. These three modules and the console can be attached to any water tank, the one on the roof of a store or another one connected to a water harvesting model, making the design adaptable to every scenario. The ultimate result is clean water. The water treatment is done using the Reverse Osmosis (RO) and Ultraviolet (UV) technology, unlike the ozonisation process used by the bigger water treatment companies. Also, the ATM operates on solar energy, thus saving on electricity expenses too. It is on account of the cost saved by avoiding ozonisation, other treatment processes, advertising and distribution activities, that Sarvajal is able to provide clean water at such a cheap price.

Image: Sarvajal 20 litre water cans

Sarvajal, a for-profit organisation established in 2008, envisioned an innovation that would facilitate sustainable living for the rural Indian. Thus, the franchisee-based model was adopted. Having procured a franchisee at a nominal rate, the local entrepreneur then runs the business, keeping 60 per cent of the revenue for himself. On an average, if a franchisee caters to the needs of 175 households a day, he can earn up to Rs.20,000 a month. Apart from Gujarat and Rajasthan, Sarvajal also has its franchisees in Maharashtra, Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh where the Water ATMs are yet to be installed, but clean water is sold in 20 litre cans. As of today, there are 154 rural franchisees and about 86,000 people drink clean water supplied by Sarvajal.

An exemplary disruptive innovation it is! Apart from giving the rural Indian access to the most basic necessity, it also provides him with a supplementary income. We can now be rest assured that the toll of Indians falling prey to water borne diseases would fall, at least to some extent. Thanks to viable options like Sarvajal!


By: Rashmi Udayshankar (MMS 2012-14)

How to start reading a Business Newspaper – PART II


So, here you are again! Congratulations!! Because the fact that you are back to read this proves that you are REALLY interested in inculcating this essential habit. We hope you have already started implementing the tips that we suggested in the previous article, if not, please do yourself a favour and start ASAP!

Once you start following news regularly on TV / the internet or magazines, the task of reading a business newspaper seems not-so-petrifying! Well, the petrifying part of business newspapers is in their ‘language’. English, it is! But if you are reading a Business newspaper for the first time you’ll realise how English can feel like German!! So, in this case, reading isn’t a big deal, ‘understanding’ it is the challenge that faces a newbie reader.

Note: Again, I’m assuming that you are a newbie reader and that you are not / have not been an avid newspaper reader!

To start with, there are quite a few renowned Business papers in the market – The Mint, Business Standard / BS, Economic Times / ET and Financial Express (in increasing order of complexity/difficulty, personal opinion!). All of them provide the same news, but each with a different treatment. ET is most recommended in B-schools, while BS is also a good business daily.  But the fact is whichever newspaper you choose to stick to; each of them is simply an overdose of information. So, it is wise to not start reading a newspaper with the aim that you will finish reading all of it! Trust us, no one does!!

What to read?

The newspaper is wisely divided into sections to cater to the interests of a diverse variety of people. So most people only read sections / headlines / news that interest them. And that is what you can do too! The first page of any Business daily, gives you the top stories and several headlines that are continued in the subsequent pages. Reading the first page gives you an idea about what may / may not interest you in almost the entire newspaper. Also, most articles feature an ‘in-set box’ that gives a gist of the situation / news. That could also help you gauge whether you want to read further or not. However, as a Business student there will be certain sections like the Editorials, Finance & Economics in which you might have to ‘generate’ interest! So start with areas that interest you and slowly, but steadily, move to these ‘heavy’ sections! Especially for those intending to specialise in Finance, once you start getting a hang of the Business daily (and possibly fall in love with it), try developing a taste towards a particular sector and analyse the industries in it. Start with a small one and slowly move to bigger industries. This is a little far-fetched, but surely you could take help from your Professors or your ever-helpful seniors!

When to read?

You could read whenever and wherever it suits you. People read them while travelling in trains and buses, while having breakfast, during the break in college. …You could decide on whatever suits you best! Just make sure you do allocate time for it!

Don’t just READ!!

Well, let’s consider, it’s your first encounter with a business daily and you start reading the top story on the first page. It reads, “IIP shocker dims hope of recovery”. Hmmm….IIP!! Now, this is where no matter how many business magazines you’ve read, no matter how many top stories you’ve followed, nothing will come to your rescue, ‘coz this is hard core economics! And most often, business dailies are teeming with Finance and Economics terms. So, what do you do? There are two ways to deal with this:

One, you read through the entire article and chances are that you will understand what the term means by the end of it.

Two, you fail to understand what it means and so, you Google it to find out. But, this isn’t feasible for each & every article and for every term that you come across. So, most people let the term linger in their minds till they come across the same term in a book/ in a lecture/ or may be in an article the next day or they ask a friend to get better clarity on it.

But, we’d suggest that, every day make it a point to Google / read up on at least one difficult term that you come across. Maintain a book / a Word document of such terms and their definitions. This would mean some value-addition every day. For a newbie, reading a newspaper is on such high-priority that she can be greatly satisfied with herself if she spends 2 hours ‘reading’ the newspaper. But then, did you gain anything out of it? That is the question.

Read & Reflect

Edmund Burke says, “To read without reflecting is like eating without digesting.” You gain nothing out of either of the exercises. So, even if you read just two articles of the newspaper in the one-hour that you’ve allocated for newspaper reading, make sure you KNOW what you read! After reading every article, take a few minutes and explain to yourself what you read. This will give you a better understanding of what you read and will also help some questions surface. Let those questions linger, if you don’t have the time to sort them out. Sooner or later the answers will surface, too. But, take 2 minutes and do reflect on the Who, What, Why and How of every article you read, that should be your take-away.

Discuss & Share

Whenever you are with a friend or a group of friends and you are short of things to talk about, the day’s headlines can be good starter. I know, you must be thinking that you’ll rather strike a discussion about the latest movie than talk about IIP or Maruti’s Manesar issue. Well, the choice is yours. It’s just a suggestion!  Sharing & discussing news with friends is a good way to learn & understand things better. It helps you form opinions on issues and helps you understand other points of view that your friends may bring up. So, Movie or Maruti…you choose!

So, here we are at the end of our wits, having poured out all possible tips that we’ve learnt over a year of trying to learn to read Business newspapers. What we have tried to do is make you aware of all the possible issues that you will face and how you could tackle them. But remember, reading this article does not empower you with supernatural abilities to master the art of reading and understanding business dailies. You will have to sweat and diligently devote time and efforts to this task. Trust us, the long term benefits that you’ll reap are worth the pain!

So…..Go ahead! And enjoy the journey!! We really hope this helps!!

Sharon Mary John

With Valuable Inputs by:

Rohan Pinto, Sneha Shenoy, Preeti Singh, Ankit Shah, Riddhima Sharma, Ashwin Balakrishnan, Sindhu Sundaresh

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