The parking yard at Park Prime, Jaipur, was packed. But no one noticed Dr. Vijay Pawar, who was busy filling air into balloons one after the other. He was simultaneously glancing at the revolving glass door of the luxury hotel in the capital city of Rajasthan.
His anxiety on the 5th of July 2013 morning was discernable because the number of balloons to be air-filled was at least 200. The short Maharashtrian could not complete the task before the team stepped out on a mission on his own. He needed support to complete the balloon task. Unfortunately, some balloons burst due to overfilling. Natural. The Clock was racing a la Usain Bolt style.
Nutty? Not at all.
What was the urgency?
First, who is Dr Pawar? He is the CSR coordinator at Mahindra Logistics. Pawar was side-glancing to spot his colleagues who had flown in from Mumbai for the biggest event planned for the day. In mid-June 2013, it was decided that Mahindra Logistics’ top bosses from Mumbai would visit Bundi, a remote village 200km away from Jaipur, to meet, greet and chat with the residents the whole day.
Why? Bundi’s Jayanagar gaon or basti had several truck drivers serving Kundan Mall Transport (KMT), a well-known grain, steel, and car carrier giant. KMT was — and is — one of the largest logistics service providers to Mahindra Logistics: LSP — supplying trucks to ferry finished vehicles from manufacturing plants to dealer networks pan India.
Mahindra Logistics, a fully owned subsidiary of Mahindra Group and a 3PL, serviced the parent company’s vehicles and other automotive manufacturers in India. KMT was one of its vendors.
Thus came the collaborative visit to Bundi by Mahindra Logistics and KMT’s top bosses. The next dispatch will be more about what transpired during the day-long visit.
Pawar was busy ‘ballooning’ to distribute air-filled kubaras to children of Bundi village when the entourage reached the destination later in the day.
But the key question to mull over is: what is Parivar Connect?
Parivar Connect is my favorite dish I serve to the transport fraternity. Not today. Right from 2010, when my Odyssey with the highways began.
It was not a revolution but evolved over the years. Primarily, in an ethnographer style, I wanted to understand the long-haul truck drivers’ living and working conditions professionally. Later, felt the need to ‘know’ their families or parivar too.
After all, we are social animals and, particularly Indians — irrespective of the career we pursue — we are attached to our families: parents, spouses, kids, domesticated animals: chicken, goat, cattle, and whatnot.
This microscopic engagement with the long haul truck drivers’ parivar led me to notice a missing link. What was that?
We are familiar with the “Ramu kaka” of the Hindi film world. The bawarchi in richer households in many parts of India is an integral part of the parivar. He knows the ins and outs of the parviar he serves. Significantly, he is considered part of the family. Never considered as an outsider. Laudable.
In fact, in the good old days of Indian trucking, the rishta between owners and drivers was more or less on the same lines. They jelled well. Possibly, the owner was also a driver and therefore fully aware of the challenges of truck driving on toll-less kacha roads of Meri Bharat Mahaan!
The passage of time and the growth of trucking operations — small truckers becoming bigger with more than one vehicle, to begin with, and several hundred on a large scale — ushered in a different working culture. Drivers and owners got distanced by multiple layers of bureaucracy within their business set up. Ramu kaka type of rishta evaporated.
For a moment, forget about the owner and driver relationship. Over the past several decades, we moved into an outsourcing model. Transportation and logistics were contracted out, thus big companies washing their hands off the ‘janchad’ of handling cumbersome driver management.
It has been working fine for the end-users: the shippers and consignees. Not so good for fleet owners and drivers.
The triad of end user-fleet owner/transporter-driver needed some tweaking. Let me put it this way. A new avenue has to be figured out to reunite these three crucial elements for the greater benefit of the society they serve.
That’s where the Parivar Connect kicked in.
(To be continued)