ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
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NEW DELHI- Neither Growth Nor Equity

tiffins, the dabbawallas are part of the Mumbai landscape. When they set out togetheron a pilgrimage, their absence leaves a vacuum. They are usually appreciated by the population which considers them courageous workers. The majority of the citizens state that if they disappeared, a part of Mumbai's identity and soul would disappear too. However, this expression of social 'appurtenance' is not synonymous with insertion in the sense that the dabbawallas remain deeply foreign to the city. They only occupy the space: they do not recognise themselves as city-dwellers and do not even try to become city-dwellers. They do not look at the city as a place where they can free themselves from the social and cultural constraints of their birthplace. To settle in the city is just a question of survival and of escaping from poverty. So reference to the village continues to regulate their lives, whether culturally, emotionally or socially, and is not questioned at all. However, they have to wait until retirement in order to resettle permanently and have a comfortable position within the village. All their savings are thus invested in the purchase of land, cattle or mill equipment.

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