Jugaad – Should we be Proud of our Jugad-ability?
The Jugaad a vehicle fashioned out of a pumpset
Previously published for Delhilive.com in September 2010
It is the considered view of many that it is the unique Indian quality of Jugaad (which Wikipedia defines as an arrangement or a work around, which has to be used because of lack of resources) which will see through the Commonwealth Games, making them come together at the last moment and even make them a success.
And yes Jugaad is a very remarkable Indian virtue; one which creates innovative and unique solutions to make the best of a paucity of resources and make the best of a bad situation. We speak in admiring terms of a person who is ‘Jugaadu’; who is resourceful enough to find a solution when there is a problem or who makes the best possible use of limited resources; who can ‘manage’ any situation to their own advantage.
So doubtless this Jugaadu mentality of ours will see us through and let us have at least a passably successful Commonwealth Games. Useful and innovative inventions such as the eponymous Jugaad vehicles – made from water pump sets, which are a hugely popular mode of transport, who may be devoid of basic requirements such as brakes, are an example of how the best use can be made of often pitifully inadequate resources.
But in my view, it is this exact Jugaadu mentality that hampers us frequently. Jugaad may be about ingenuity in the face of adversity, but very often, it becomes synonymous with ‘Making do’. If a band aid will do for the moment, why take the trouble of tying a proper bandage? Jugaad is often a short term solution that can be detrimental in the longer term. It may take care of the here and now, but it can be shortsighted and often selfish as well.
Consider the scenario wherein a person has to travel urgently, but does not have a reservation on the train he has to take. There is the confident assertion here, that Kuchh jugaad kar lenge which usually means that a bribe will be paid, and some palms greased, probably to edge out another person who perhaps was higher up in the waiting list.
Jugaad is often to the detriment of another person, it often stops us short of looking for a bigger and better solution. It also lets things slide till the last moment, until such time as there is no alternative but to put together a slapdash solution that will do, but only just. Jugaad is very often not innovation, but a sorry excuse for poor workmanship.
So if, come October and the Commonwealth Games, there are no leaking ceilings in the various stadia, it will be because some last minute jugaad was done to prevent that; when the construction should not have been so shoddy as to have those leaks appear in the first place. If the games appear to be a success, it will be because the jugaad was done to keep up appearances and so that we wouldn’t lose face before the international community.
Jugaad very often means resourcefulness that we can justifiably be proud of, but in many instances, our Jugaad-ability, as in the case of the Commonwealth Games, is just not good enough – and it really isn’t something we should be proud of.
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