The magic in Indian ‘Jugaad’

Jugaad vehicle in North India. This 'jugaad' is made by attaching a pumpset engine to a steel frame with four wheels. It's a common mode of transport in rural areas.
Jugaad vehicle in North India. This 'jugaad' is made by attaching a pumpset engine to a steel frame with four wheels. It's a common mode of transport in rural areas.

It is an accepted fact that in India anything can be achieved by anybody as long as he/she can do some ‘jugaad’. The uniqueness of the system ensures that jugaad works. In fact, life will become miserable for most of the Indians, if the concept of jugaad is obliterated, but that’s simply impossible because to do that will require massive jugaad.

Jugaad comes in various means and ways as long it as it serves the end! So what is ‘jugaad’? It is the elixir or magic potion or USP, which ‘gets the impossible done’! It comes in various forms- as a human, currency, power/ position, clout or charm. You just have to use or approach jugaad to apply it. Sounds mysterious, isn’t it? Well, that is the charm of our ancient Indian civilization. 

Interestingly, the non-jugaadu lady/gentleman, who works according to the merit of the case without the application of any kind of jugaad, is ridiculed and seen as a loser, an aberration, and sometimes socially-ostracized.

In India, you need to have a jugaad to get your things done in almost all the sectors — from approaching a government to register a land or house, to approving plan for any infrastructure, from booking your railway tickets without hassle to getting your driving license, everywhere you need a jugaad. Even getting an invigilator for a PhD viva-voce requires jugaad, not to miss out getting a ticket from a political party to stand in an election.

Jugaad, also called adjust or adjust maadi in Kannada, in Indian culture can be compared to the famous Chakravyuh in Mahabharata, which was almost impossible to be broken. Surprisingly, Indians have accepted it wholeheartedly without any complaints.

The jugaadus have the power to make people run for their money, even surprising the foreigners of their might. A real jugaadu never gets disheartened by the obstacles that come on his/her way while getting his work done, as he has all the weapons– from saying ‘thoda adjust kar na’ to that jugaadu look- in his armour.

It’s a way of life, which spares nobody- even those offering prayers. The pundits tell us apply jugaad to God and he will do the needful. Even darshan of the Gods is denied without jugaadus, as a bigger jugaad is required to meet the Lord. God does not correspond directly in India, the pundit ji does it for you, once you ask him to adjust. It doesn’t end there: We need jugaad even after death!  A slot in the crematorium/burial ground or funeral ghats can be done without any hassles only after various jugaads.

Thanks to globalisation, India has exported jugaad all over the world. In fact, our next door Pakistan seems to be beating us in our game of jugaad. No wonder, they have pilots, who are flying aeroplanes without even a flying license!

And yes, jugaad has found a place in Oxford dictionary as well. The Oxford English dictionary jugaad refers to “the use of skill and imagination to find an easy solution to a problem or to fix or make something using cheap, basic items”. Jugaad is often celebrated as an example of the Indian spirit of resourcefulness and enterprise’.

In short, jugaad has become “the Indian way of innovation“, which management gurus advise the West to emulate. A form of law-breaking and street smartness in the face of poverty and governmental incompetence has been elevated into a management principle. It’s universally acknowledged that Indians are best at jugaad. When used positively, it becomes innovation.

However, critics of jugaads dismiss it as taking shortcuts, which at time is not legal. Unfortunately over the years, jugaad has been used brazenly to get things done illegally leading to big scams that has brought bad repute to the country’s image.

More important, the jugaadus should keep themselves away, when it comes to national interest. Quality should never be compromised or ‘adjusted’ when the sovereignty of our nation is at stake.

On a lighter note! Imagine the Trumps or Putins or Xi Jinping with the Indian jugaads. It will take them to places! That’s precisely why it’s all the more important to patent our jugaad like the Basmati rice, before others walk away with jugaad, leaving India in a bigger mess.

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