“As former British Prime Minister George Canning once quipped, you can prove anything by statistics except the truth. Indeed, one can find illustrative examples of any phenomenon, however rare, if a rigorous statistical analysis is undertaken across the gamut of all possible outcomes. Innovation resulting from jugaad falls into this category.

The hallmark of true innovation is the understanding of the root cause of problems, their analysis and a permanent solution. The jugaad mindset does not lend itself to improving the present into a better tomorrow; instead, it overlooks the root cause, therefore repeating mistakes from the past.

Instead of working to get the intrinsic problem addressed, jugaad resorts to getting the immediate task accomplished.

Quality is a product of consistently repeatable processes; these two attributes are inconsistent with the concept of jugaad. While it may produce functionally fit-for-use products, their reliability, maintainability and sustainability are always suspect. Excellence becomes a foreign concept to this kind of thinking.

An obstacle

As columnist Swapan Dasgupta said in his op-ed on this topic during the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, “where the creativity of developed countries was spent on improving the system, Indian energy was expended on trying to beat a cruel and uncaring world. It has prompted a celebration of expediency, shortcuts and shoddiness. Once the escape route from hell, jugaad has now become an obstacle to India realizing its true potential.”

I couldn’t have said anything better.

Jugaad, coupled with the attitude of “chalta-hai” in an “environment that rewards absolute conformity to hierarchy and greed eventually leads to fraud.”

(Dinesh Thakur is a former Ranbaxy executive who blew the whistle against serious malpractices by the company.)

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