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  • Writer's pictureKaren Divya Shekar

The Jugaad Generation

I read ‘The Happiness Trail’ by Ramesh Venkateshwaran recently. That’s where I came across this term: ‘jugaad’. ‘Jugaad’, a Hindi word, has found a place for itself in the English dictionary and means ‘frugal innovation’ or something you make do with.


Unfortunately, jugaad also means a lot of other things like beating the system, working around a problem, and attempting to patch things instead of fixing them.


According to the author, jugaad is a malaise, a problem, a deeply-rooted vice rising to the surface of contemporary India.


The minute I read about it, I recognised it, and when I recognised it, I was ashamed.


Somewhere in these blogs, I have talked about half-heartedness in work ethic, quality, life, and every aspect of existence—half-hearted partaking of meals, half-hearted enjoyment, half-hearted living. I was warned about half-heartedness, so I passed the warning along to my readers.


Today, I have found someone else who recognises this ill and attempts to deal with it.

In chapter 8, the author talks about us having become a ‘chalta hai’ generation, and I couldn’t agree more. I am a perpetrator of this philosophy and have lived my whole life with the attitude of ‘anything goes’.


Today, I want to present to my readers that an atheistic mindset lies at the root of this philosophy.


How did I come to this conclusion?


It’s elementary.


If one does not believe in an all-powerful God who rewards the righteous and punishes the wicked, ‘chalta hai’ will always be the refrain. Dostoevsky expounded this belief in The Brothers Karamazov. Remember Ivan Karamazov’s ‘anything goes’, the most dangerous phrase I believe ever to be coined by man?


Let’s take some more examples.


In the matter of building a road, if the contractor and his workmen do so carelessly, half-heartedly, and without any interest in their work, they will have built a road most likely to be washed away in the monsoons.


A loss of money, material and even (God forbid) life!


If a teacher teaches her students only the easy sums because she is too lazy to explain the difficult ones, the children will not know how to work out more complex problems.

Worse, they may have to engage a tuition teacher to help them.


It gives rise to a whole new career path.


In all professions, if work is not carried out as worship, some vice creeps up to become a societal ill. Think bribes, shoddy jobs, lack of craft, no pride in one’s work.


It’s all jugaad and chalta hai. But that’s not how we were called to live or expected to live.


My generation, and I think all preceding ones, need to spend some time trying to work out why we exist on this planet.


And we have to come to a conclusive answer.


We can’t leave the response open-ended, especially in such traumatic times.


We live blindly.


We live foolishly.


Like animals, we live without really living, from one meal to the next, seldom realising that we have a spiritual thirst in us that calls out or screams out for help.


Why does the heart thump so desperately if it doesn’t crave something or someone to tell it that there is hope, meaning, love, peace, joy, security, union, friendship!


If the lockdown taught us anything, it should have at least exposed the sheer meaninglessness of life, yet our feeble attempts to grasp it!


If, however, you do not find life meaningless, I have no bone to pick with you. You are probably a God-fearing, devout person with a firm belief in a God who imparts justice.


You live virtuously, expect reward for your good works. My audience is not you.


I’m talking to the malcontents, the bitter, the jaded, the angry, the hopeless, the greedy, the practitioners of jugaad and chalta hai.


Why are we living life if we believe there’s nothing in it for us?


That’s why I wonder why atheists live at all.


The minute you conclude that this is a meaningless black hole and we’re doomed, why

not die and put yourself out of the misery?


Why write books, debate and lecture on the sheer meaninglessness of life? Why harass those who believe in a God?


Friends, jugaad is the outcome of a lack of spirituality. Chalta hai, too, follows this paltry way of living. I urge you to think carefully about it, and you will find that the next time you are tempted to cut corners in a job, ask yourself what motivates that kind of thinking. The answer I believe can be found in Dostoevsky’s “anything goes”.


But remember if anything goes, chaos ensues.

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