It is high time we understand micro and macro entropies, rethink and reimagine.

I was amazed to see many CEOs going bonkers over the Jugaad model, citing India’s way of innovating and quick fixing everything. Some have written best-sellers. As many praised Jugaad as India’s contribution to innovation and frugal engineering, we took it as an endorsement and much-deserved world recognition, something original from India. The reality is, India has romanticised a totally wrong and devastating casual fix-it-all approach and use it anywhere attitude instead of a far systematic planning and problem-solving method. Unfortunately, we take pride in Jugaad and glorify the person who got things by doing Jugaad.

Jugaad at best can be a very small step in a larger innovation or problem-solving process. It can be a shortcut, that too not always, to get out of a sticky situation but we have taken it to the next level; it has become our nations’ standard operating procedure. Government to bureaucrats, to policymakers, to every decision-maker to every citizen of our country swears by Jugaad. Jugaad has totally infested our nation, made us hollow from inside.

The Covid pandemic has shattered our glorification. Several Indians have not died purely because of Covid but they died of our Jugaad attitude. “Dekha jayega jab hoga tab” why fix it if it’s not broken method of planning and total lack of foresight of our political leadership and bureaucracy could not provide patients with oxygen supply, ICU beds, life-saving ventilators, and crucial medicines. The sad stories of people begging for oxygen are innumerable and heartbreaking. These stories will be a permanent reminder to us about our systems’ unpardonable failures. See how well we have managed the crisis become cases studies and we celebrate them. This is where it all begins. We have paid a price for this Jugaadu attitude and our rubbish planning.

‘Jugaad’ is a curse and a hindrance, it forces us away from planning anything systematically and reaching excellence. Jugaad is about, imperfection is OK as long as the job is done. Jugaad is an attitude, that will neither make us self-reliant nor allow us to be good at anything. Jugaad cannot be celebrated!

What’s the point of celebrating how well we have managed to come out of the crisis if in the first place the crisis could have been totally avoided. If India in March 2020 went through the most severe lockdown ever, what led to this level of stupid complacency in January 2021. It was evident and seen across the world that we would be hit by a big and an even deadlier second wave. World statistics were showing a disaster in the waiting. It doesn’t take much intelligence to plan and organise ourselves well in advance.

Why crucial medications were not produced in bulk and kept ready? Why weren’t oxygen plants ready and a Mumbai model planned well in advance? Why were jumbo Covid centres dismantled? Why didn’t we place orders with other foreign vaccine manufacturers? Why were vaccination camps not organised at mass levels after the first wave? Why were private sector hospitals not engaged from the very beginning as part of vaccine distribution? Why were super spreader events allowed? Why does the Supreme Court have to intervene in every possible critical issue in this country? The list of severe lack of systems planning and forecasting issues is endless.

Jugaad hasn’t worked it is in fact destroying us: India is gasping for breath, people helplessly are on the streets looking for medicines and queuing up outside hospitals for ICU beds while patients die waiting for one. India needs to re-think the whole game from a systems design perspective by understanding entropies in almost every aspect of public interest: health, security, delivery of public services, and natural disasters. We cannot plan to avoid and handle emergencies with Jugaad and ad hoc decision-making.

Our post-pandemic government/s will need a totally new avatar at two levels: One at systems planning and design level; envisioning, understanding micro and macro entropies, forecasting, planning, and designing systems for implementation. Secondly, a government that is performance-driven, agile, and quick at decision making. The world has changed around us and all the fatal flaws are exposed this is the time to rethink and redesign.

Let’s think and change!

(This Perspective was originally published on May 12, 2021 by Shekhar Badve on LinkedIn)