Thousands of office goers in Mumbai, who have their home-cooked food delivered by the city's famed dabbawallahs, the tiffin carriers, also found a piece of advice on countering AIDS, along with food this time.
The extra something came in the form of an 'AIDS Kit' - comprising a car calendar with fliers on testing and counselling tied neatly with a red ribbon. These were distributed on Friday ahead of the World AIDS Day today.
AdvertisementThese kits were attached to empty lunch boxes and delivered to about 100,000 clients' homes.
"We are spreading AIDS awareness at homes and offices as well," said Gajanan Telekar, a Tiffin carrier.
Some 5,000 dabbawallahs deliver 200,000 meals from their clients' homes all over Mumbai to their workplaces every day.
This dabbawallah system has been studied in prestigious international business schools as a model of efficiency.
Prerna Kumar, a consultant at Johns Hopkins University said: "There is an army of 5000 dabbawallas which goes across the city and they not deliver just dabbas (tiffin boxes) to the work places but take them back to their homes as well. They have roughly two lakh customers."
The dabbawallahs collect lunch-boxes from homes, sort them out using colour-and-alphabets code, travel by suburban trains, and even carry on their heads heavy wooden trays holding up to 35 boxes for delivery at offices.
Their error margin is said to be one in six million deliveries.
Health groups sought the dabbawallahs help for anti-AIDS campaign in order to be able to use their delivery mechanism.
"This started as a workplace intervention, but we realised the messages are not trickling back to their families. So, this time they are taking the message back to their homes with the empty boxes," added Prerna.
India has the world's third biggest caseload of people living with the AIDS virus. After the original estimate of some 5.7 million being infected in India, the UN reduced that estimate to 2.5 million.
It says the global prevalence of HIV infections has levelled off, in part due to effective health programmes.
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