Just curious #3 – Kabhi Weakness Kabhi Strength?

Last week, an interesting quote was credited to Renault/Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn:

… Engineers in other parts of the world always need more resources to do the same thing … (Frugal engineering is India’s strength) …

Deep-thinking jobless nerd within me started doing the extrapolations. Isn’t Carlos pointing out the very Indian thing which goes – “Do with little”. Isn’t that in turn an extension of “Swalpa Adjust Maadi“? Stretching further, is this an offshoot of the classic “Chalta Hai” bit we love to criticize at times?

“Managing with less” is at times our strength. And at times, weakness. Strength as Carlos sees it – he can get his cars done in India for less. Weakness as I see in my profession – engineers assume that they shouldn’t ask for more (resources), and in doing with less, increase the chances that quality-of-output wouldn’t really be top-notch or world-class.

That is our famed “frugality” to me, kabhi weakness, kabhi strength!

PS: For non-kannada folks, “swalpa adjust maadi” = “thhoda adjust karo“. Yes, the very thing Rang De Basanti made subtle references to at various points in the movie.

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8 Responses

  1. i think you are confusing jugaad & ‘fite’ maaDodu with swalpa adjust maaDi.

    broken cooker handle.
    no screw driver.

    using spoon to eat cornflakes – swalpa adjust maaDi.
    using spoon to fix the handle and
    then reuse it to eat ghama ghama pulao – jugaaD, priceless.

  2. Let’s assume for a moment that Ghosn is not indulging in a sweeping generalization about Indian engineers (which I think he is).

    I think this frugality is different from the “swalpa adjust maadi” in that it is not buying temporary peace. Swalpa adjust maadi usually buys temporary peace but creates long term problems. It sweeps problems under the carpet.

    Every company will have to find the lowest cost option to meet a consumer’s need assuming equal pricing and quality. Else it is dead in the long run.

    My late father-in-law used to design trusses that would use about half the material that others would use because he was technically so good his designs would use less material not because he compromised.

  3. Tarle, Sri, I don’t know. I think Frugal Engineering is an offshoot of Swalpa Adjust Maadi in the sense that you don’t go outside the box to check if you can manage to get more resources. Basically, you adjust first. Chalta Hai bit may be stretching it too far.

    Your examples highlight the strengths. Shortage of resources challenges you to be more creative. And Tarle, that example is nice as well as hilarious (ghama ghama pulao!)

  4. Possible. We have grown up with that mentality to make do with whatever we have. And make the most of it. Optimization of resources, scarce or plenty, is in our blood. A thin bar of soap will be stuck on to a new one so that it can be utilized to the end. Toothpaste will be squeezed out using ones teeth if need be so that nothing goes waste. A newspaper will be used to line bookshelves and will finally end up to sell peanuts in.

    I remember in IIM Cal we made Maggi noodles in a bucket after heating water using an immersion rod!! Don’t know if this is jugaad or adjust.

    Bombay suburban is a classic example of “swalpa adjust maadi”.

  5. Hi SB, I don’t know if that is ‘swalpa adjust maadi’. ‘Swalpa adjust maadi’ is mostly used when you want to let go of your standards of any sort, moral or otherwise. Making do with the resources on hand is frugal, but in a good way, I think.

  6. optimization. frugality. resourcefulness. compromise.
    towards problem solving is sometimes jugaaD, sometimes adjust, sometimes chalta hein.

    kabhi weakness kabhi strength.

    aside..
    the original KKKG song… uThe sab ke kadam rocks..

  7. we even have a film song along these lines …

    thoda hai thode kee zaroorat hai
    zindagee phir bhee bahut khoobsoorat hai
    :-)

    – s.b.

  8. Good one some body. learn to do with little – its our culture. Remember “simple living high thinking” (saada jeevan uchch vichaar) type of gyaan you got from everyone?

    “Doing with little” crosses over to the domain of “kanjoosee” (miserly behavior at times). Find it in display in almost every public work. You think they cut corners. ‘They’ think they are saving the country money by doing the job with less resources.

    As I said, virtue or vice, depends on the way you see or follow it.

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