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10/16/2017

When Indians re-invent creativity...

I am often asked to describe Indians. Which is absolutely an impossible task. But there is a trait that I often forget and yet explains so much: that’s jugaad. Of course it is so unique that there is no English translation. But I would translate it by “the art of thinking out of the box and find solutions nobody would have thought of”. Indians are masters of this. Beside them, MacGyver is a debilitating Penguin.

Here are some examples to illustrate.

India,jugaad,creativity,demonetisation,black money,corruption,alcohol,drinking and driving,ruleWhen Modi, the Prime Minister, launched his ‘demonetization’ at the end of 2016, he thought that at least 70% of people would not dare put their black money back in the bank and would rather destroy it, for fear of facing fines, public shaming etc.. He was wrong and had underestimated his compatriots who have found ways to deposit more than 99% of all the notes (source https://www.ft.com/content/7dbe0e14-8d8a-11e7-a352-e46f43c5825d). Including by distributing to the poor around them with incentives (deposit 250,000 rupees (the limit to not attract attention) for me and I will give you 10,000 kind of thing).

India,jugaad,creativity,demonetisation,black money,corruption,alcohol,drinking and driving,ruleAnother example: in December 2016, the Supreme Court delivered a judgment: they banned (Indian authorities have a knack for banning things) alcohol sales within a radius of 500 meters from a main road (national or local highway). This was the result of a 4 year campaign on road safety – ironically enough, the man who led it had been left crippled by a road accident, because his car had gone off-road in the hope of spotting a leopard and he tackled the problem of alcoholism on the road. There is definitely a problem in India, but alcohol remains the 3rd cause of accident after excess of speed and mobile phone.

india,jugaad,creativity,demonetisation,black money,corruption,alcohol,drinking and driving,rule

But let’s move on. The goal of the Supreme Court was to reduce drinking and driving. As a result: 80% of the restaurants in our area have put down the shutter, from one day to the other. But some ‘smart ones’ managed to divert the entrance to the restaurant; something like you have to drive twice around the block to be able to enter, thus covering the legal 500 metres! A weird rule though: 500 meters is not enough to sober up, as far as I know. Anyway on August 23rd, 2017, the Supreme Court relaxed their decision and lifred the ban within the cities, probably in the spirit of focusing on drunk truck drivers, who, surprisingly (or not), are not likely going to get drunk in “pubs” but rather from local dives serving plastic alchohol. Whether the judges were hit by logic or pressure related to the losses of the restaurants who have to shut down and the reduction of collected taxes on alcohol no one knows.

India,jugaad,creativity,demonetisation,black money,corruption,alcohol,drinking and driving,ruleI sometimes face the challenge of explaining Jugaad to the Swiss... For whom the rule is the rule, even if the rule is stupid...

India,jugaad,creativity,demonetisation,black money,corruption,alcohol,drinking and driving,rule

Source : http://www.indiatimes.com/news/meet-wheelchair-bound-harm... ; https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/25/alcohol-rul... ; http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nat... ; http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/opinion/measuring-impact-of-demonetisation-in-india/article9459507.ece

09/14/2015

A story of rugby and alcohol

Any resemblance with existing persons is fictitious. Or not.  

Our small family recently completed its yearly pilgrimage to Kerala.

 

There I had to face a situation: in India, a baby is not a person but a rugby ball. As soon as they see a baby, arms reach out, they grab him and pass him to one another. I must be a not-so-good scrum-half: at the sight of these reaching out women - which were not all pretty sights, even for me (so I could only imagine for a baby), with missing or rotten teeth, mustaches and beards - I did not let go of the ball. Just because the three pairs of arms who welcomed us scared me away, feeling totally aggressed. While it is apparently an act of “politeness” to ask to carry my child, politeness I was supposed to return by handing the child in question away. Well, to be honest with you, I didn’t care one bit about going the impolite stuck-up bitch that would not let her baby go! 

And my baby played along and refused to leave my arms. Of course I don’t want him to be anti-social; I just want people to give him some time to adjust to all these new faces before being thrown into the scrum!

After holding on against almost everybody, people left us alone… I took advantage of the new found peace to let baby stretch and take a few steps. No sooner had he a foot on the ground that he got grabbed by an ‘uncle’ who had identified an opening and seized it! He got eventually passed in the arms of four women, who were not even from my husband's family...  

 

Without transition:

Statistics show that Indians drink less than Europeans (4.3 versus 12.5 litres per year per person) except that we should remove from the equation women (who do not have the right to drink), pious men (who do not drink out of religious conviction), and all those who drink home-made alcohol, which kill mostly in silence, and sometime loudly (when more than a hundred people die, like it happened in June in Mumbai). Malayali drink 10.2 litres per year, quite far behind the guys of Andhra Pradesh (35 litres). For many Indian States, taxes on alcohol represent nearly a quarter of the State income (22% in Kerala); whereas it is less than 1% in France. This makes it difficult for States to tackle alchool consumption, as they regularly try. Only the Gujarat has been holding on tight, but the black market has been exploding. Increasing taxes (already at more than 100%) or making alcohol illegal is fine but it does not help much... 

 

india,wedding,kerala,baby,rugby,alcohol

 

(1) In India:  http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/kerala-increases-tax-on-liquor-beer-and-wine/#sthash.PNIRO4yJ.dpuf ; http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2015-05-16/news/62239496_1_total-prohibition-vm-sudheeran-kerala-government ;  http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/economy/the-alcohol-economy/article5436924.ECE ; http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/blogs/blog-datadelve/article6344654.ece 

 

(2) In France: http://www.alcool-info-service.fr/alcool/consommation-alcool-france/culture-alcool-consommation-vin#.VfZl8Jf3aJ8  ;  http://www.insee.fr/fr/themes/comptes-nationaux/tableau.asp?sous_theme=3.2 & xml = t_3203 ; http://next.Liberation.fr/vous/2011/02/17/Quels-sont-les-pays-qui-consomment-Le-plus-d-alcool-dans-le-monde_715595