Our ISRO scientists launched Mangalyan on a shoestring budget while we try to find people to share a Netflix subscription. And both are types of jugaad.
For every student who creates something awesome like the low-cost ventilator Prana Vayu, there are thousands of hostel kids using a hot tawa to iron clothes.
Well, you get the picture!
There is no dearth of clever methods to achieve any goal in this city. But, what was a temporary fix or makeshift solution has now become a way of life for many. And depending on who you ask, there is a different type of jugaad for everything. Unfortunately, it is not limited to ingenious hacks or creative ways to make a quick buck or to stretch resources.
For every doctor who comes up with an innovation like Jaipur foot for those who can’t afford expensive prosthetics, there is a person reselling used gloves during a pandemic.
For every dabbawala who devised a way to ensure that lunch is delivered every day, there are those who forced some poor folks to bank their cash during demonetisation.
It is a pointless daily hustle for many who do it because they think they don’t have a choice…
For every commuter who is forced to venture out in Mumbai floods, there are thousands more precariously hanging at the edge of the train and risking life and limb in rush hour traffic.
For every person who annexes a little extra space in their flat, there are thousands of illegal constructions.
Can most of this jugaad be fixed? Can we envision a future with satisfied citizens who have access to essential services and don’t need “setting” to get school admissions, hospital beds and proper food supply from our farmers?
Is it too much of a stretch to imagine that we might just be able to upgrade the quality of education in every school given that teachers and students across the country have upped and moved online in a jiff? What about more hospitals and ICU beds? Given the temporary COVID recovery centres with beds and other infrastructural changes that happened in record speed within a couple of months, we can surely direct resources to more permanent healthcare solutions. And what will it take to be more stringent with the “aam” investors’ money?
I wonder what will happen if we stop being jugaadu…
No more fourth seat!
We were told that trains and the lifeline of Mumbai. Yes, yes we do rely on trains and our life is not the same without it, but do we really need to do the whole rush hour thing? All those who do the daily commute would agree in a heartbeat that it would be easier to just stagger office timings area wise so there is no single peak hour. What would it take for organisations to encourage work from home more, especially during the (in)famous Mumbai rains?
Oh, what I wouldn’t give to see those hustling for the half-assed fourth seat directing all their energy at the powers that be to make our lifeline safe!
No more setting!
From school admissions to hospital beds to getting to know in advance about a PMC bank like crisis—everything depends on whether you have contacts in all the right places!
It takes resourcefulness to get things done by hook or by crook. Just think about what could happen if the “setting wale contacts” used their muscle to do the right thing for once!
No more busy sidewalks!
Street hawkers make for pretty pictures in foreign magazines, but not when it means pedestrians are forced to walk on the road.
Let’s reclaim our footpaths from converted storefronts, bikers using it as an extra lane and the peddlers who have plonked themselves on the pavement till the next BMC raid.
No more shady deals!
There is a special kind of jugaad needed to sneak alcohol from the back door of a liquor store during lockdown or take over a balcony space to use as a bedroom. The kind that is illegal or bordering on illegal. The kind that requires chai paani or dealing under the table.
This is the type of jugaad that most Mumbaikars are intimately familiar with and have indulged in at some point or the other. But, our jugaad and the jugaad of those who are less privileged is only putting more pressure on the system.
The lockdown showed us that it is possible to teach such a large population about wearing masks, using sanitisers and the term social distancing. It showed us that grown-ups all over the country could learn to stand in a circle without touching. And above all, we learned that making essential services available to the entire country should be our biggest priority.
Perhaps it is time to give up jugaad, look for a permanent fix and raise the bar…