Love, Life and all that Jugaad

It is a little less than a week for Republic day, and I am already feeling so patriotic – first of the three times in a year, third being any cricket match – even if Mumbai Indians is playing. Apart from the Railways and ‘English’, the British will be remembered for giving the gift of Democracy to India. This year India boasts of its 67th Republic Day. We can proudly say that after all these years everyone in the country is happy, except Dalits, Muslims, minority, transgender, Farhan Akhtar and sportsmen playing any other sport apart from Cricket. Good job, government!

Something that is to India as Circuit is to Munna Bhai is Jugaad.

I remember reading somewhere that many years ago, innovative Punjabis mounted a diesel irrigation pump on a steel frame with wheels, and created a vehicle they called jugaad. It was ultra-cheap but did not conform to vehicular regulations. Over time, jugaad came to mean grassroots innovation to overcome any constraint, with the given limited resources!

In the West, innovation is done by scientists jugaad-newusing expensive equipment. In India, it’s done by every housewife, farmer, transporter, trader and industrialist. It does not require high-spending R&D: it simply needs creativity and knowledge of basic science. A lot of people confuse Jugaad with bribery, or illegal, unethical things to get work done faster, but that definitely is not jugaad I speak about here!

The country’s chaotic democracy, according to journalist and author Elliott, creates an environment “where jugaad fixes are easy, and where the failures of the system in terms of poor governance and weakened institutions make the fatalism of chalta hai a welcome safe haven”. It also “blocks changes and acts as an excuse for what is not being achieved”.

Even though at many levels I think this statement is faulty, but having said that, I do believe that to run a country as large as India, with second largest population in the world, diverse cultures and geographic conditions under not-so-stable leadership and poor governance is, in a way, Jugaad. We have all done jugaad at our own level, and are moving ahead somehow. And that is the success rate that jugaad can accomplish! I would even like to add India’s successful Mars mission to this list!

In this day and age, where everyday a new start-up is booming, jugaad can come as a handy tool!

Final criticism could be that what India needs is systems as well. It needs structure, it needs regulation. If there isn’t a system in place, or if there’s a system that blocks any change then one needs jugaad to find a way around it- not in negative sense, but to actually overcome constraints! If we can innovate with our ingrained Jugaad-o nature, and in second step, learn to strategize well – I think there is no stopping us! ‘Make in India’ can easily be changed to ‘Innovate in India’.

PS- No, no! This article on jugaad was not my jugaad, as I got too close to the deadline without a topic in mind. I am quite systematic that way!

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