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‘Jugaad’ and Mughal-influenced striving for greatness behind India’s current upswing: author Afshan Hashmi

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An interview with the author of The Modern Mughal Mentality.

By Raif Karerat

WASHINGTON, DC: Indian American author Afshan Naheed Hashmi’s book The Modern Mughal Mentality: New Strategies to Succeed in India and the Global Marketplace, published by BookBaby, introduces the Jugaad Management Principle Business Model, “which can be applied to any business, anywhere,” according to the author. The book includes success stories, as well as future opportunities.

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In an interview with the American Bazaar, Hashmi talks about Jugaad and its applications, among other issues. Here are edited excerpts:

How is Jugaad different from Western schools of business strategy?

Afshan Naheed HashmiToday, many western corporations believe that, the more capital you invest in a project the more innovative it will be. Also many western firms believe in a marvelous theory of Six Sigma, which is a set of practices to improve quality, by eliminating defects, but when things start to change one is struck. Six Sigma comes to play when one is mass producing in a predictable environment. But in today’s economy, when the resources are not in abundance Jugaad comes into play.  Firms practicing Jugaad are highly adaptable, as they do not follow any single business model and pursue multiple options at any time. In the Indian mindset, Jugaad inspires people to be innovative. This same proactive mentality can be applied to the business management model.

My new business model introduced in my book The Modern Mughal Mentality: New Strategies to Succeed in India and the Global Marketplace, Jugaad Management Principle Business Model can be described as an Indian way of performing tasks. Adopting the Jugaad involves fostering a very broad mindset that is necessary not only for product development, but also the entire business cycle — from idea to execution. The Jugaad model is about improvising a solution. It’s about ingenuity in the face of adversity. Jugaad is also flexible thinking and action. I have conceptualized Jugaad to mean “obtaining your objectives by maximizing resources through thinking out of the box.”

What are its key concepts?

The Modern Mughal Mentality transforms hardships and difficulties into success stories by introducing the Jugaad Management Principle Business Model, which can be applied to any business, anywhere. There are seven key concepts, as spelled out in the book: Creative Improvisation, Glocalization, Competitive Advantage, Reverse Outsourcing, Acquisitions, Frugal Innovation and Reverse Innovation.                                 

Why is it applicable outside of India?

The Modern Mughal Mentality is built upon the belief that successful Indian strategies can be used everywhere, and with great success. It illustrates specific examples in pharmaceutical and biotechnology, tourism, franchising, hotel and restaurant, film industries and other industries in both Indian and global economies to prove the theory.

The book informs business leaders how they can benefit from incorporating Indian ways of doing business into their companies. The book reveals secrets of some of India’s top performing companies, including seven principal practices of Indian companies. The Jugaad Management Principle Business Model has taken the guess work out of Indian style management for the western business leader by translating Indian philosophies into a Western-style model which can be followed by anyone in any sector.

Do any major corporations or businesses currently utilize the method?  What is the most successful implementation of the Jugaad model?

The book gives examples from successful Indian companies in all different sectors. In fact, the success of McDonald’s in India can be attributed to its adaptation of the Indian menu or glocalization. (Glocalization, which comes from two words globalization and localization, refers to adapting techniques to local conditions.) India’s main religion is Hinduism and about 82 percent of the population is Hindu. Cows are considered holy by Hindus because they represent fertility and nurturing. The Indian population is roughly 12 percent Muslim. Muslims have a taboo regarding pork and pigskin products and do not eat pork products. The majority of Indians are vegetarian. Taking these three diverse cultural attitudes into account, McDonald’s has developed a menu especially for India with vegetarian selections to suit Indian tastes and preferences. McDonald’s does not offer any beef or pork items in India. The challenge was to change the ingredients of the worldwide popular hamburger to make an entry into India. The population of a billion was undoubtedly a promising opportunity for McDonalds.

Realizing that an alternative to beef and pork was necessary, McDonald’s accepted the challenge and created the McAloo Tikki Burger known as McAloo Tikki (TM) especially for the Indian vegetarian customers. Aloo- Tikki is a potato patty with spices. McDonald’s ensures that vegetarian products are 100 percent vegetarian. The company even developed vegan mayonnaise especially for Indian consumers and their soft serve ice creams are 100 percent vegetarian. McDonald’s makes great efforts to ensure that the vegetarian products are segregated from the non-vegetarian products from the moment they are stored at the suppliers until they are served to the customers. Creating a popular vegetarian version of the famous hamburger was indeed a classic case of product adaptation used to gain foothold in a new market.

In addition to complying with dietary sensitivities of its target market, McDonald’s also addressed the price sensitivity of the Indian consumer market with its Value Meal. In order to expand their product line, McDonald’s made a chicken and fish option available for the non- vegetarians. McDonalds understood India’s cultural values and attitudes and embedded them into their business plans.

Jugaad seems to be at its best when confronted with a problem that needs immediate, quick improvisation. The problem that the cow is considered holy by Hindus and pork cannot be eaten by Muslims made two of McDonalds’ primary ingredients off-limits.  Creating new, culturally appealing alternatives and vegetarian items in India was a very good quick fix to the problem. This is a great example of Jugaad-inspired glocalization where genius and innovative thinking fueled by religious sensitivity for Indian consumers led to a quick fix of the Indian menu and enabled McDonald’s to attain their objective of being successful in India.

Amazingly, in the example above, it is an American company who uses the Jugaad mentality with optimal results. By witnessing such impressive results from a wide range of companies in multiple sectors, readers will be inspired to look inside their own businesses and make the changes needed.  Also the book contains questions (“Modern Mughal Mentality Exercises”) which prompt the reader to be inspired and use Jugaad on their own.

Who are the target readers of the book?

The book has mass appeal for three major audiences: 1) executives of major corporations and small business owners needing to find quick solutions to improve their profitability; 2) those doing business in or with India; and 3) those studying business models in universities worldwide.  Today many people are a combination of two of the three audiences above. In the United States alone, the number of entrepreneurially-minded college students, baby boomers, Gen Xers, and GenYers in-between is growing. That’s why the need for accurate, up to date, and unique information is needed.

My goal is that everyone from the neighborhood florist, to a multinational corporation, or an entrepreneur can benefit from The Modern Mughal Mentality.  Once employed, these techniques enable business people to transform their own companies and eventually entire economies will be affected.

Is the current upswing of the Indian economy due to Jugaad?

I believe that the flourishing Indian economy is due to both Jugaad and a striving for greatness that modern Indians inherited from their Mughal-influenced history. Thus, I named my book The Modern Mughal Mentality, which can be defined as “fusing lofty ambitions with practical and innovative ways of maximizing resources to achieve your objectives.”

What is the specific mentality needed to execute the strategy aptly?

A desire to succeed and an open mind are all that are needed to conceptualize even more creative business ideas, products, and services.  Challenge yourself, your team, and your organization to adopt the Jugaad mindset, and you will be building a stronger foundation for the future, and will be more efficient in combating economic downturn.

Where does Jugaad take its inspiration from?

It is very hard to find documented examples of the history of Jugaad, although in India Jugaad has been present for a very long time and is an inherent part of the Indian culture. The most common example of Jugaad is the vehicle called Jugaad, one of the cheapest means of transport in rural India. Jugaad vehicles cost less than $2,000.

What motivated you to write a book about business strategy with a decidedly Indian lean?

When I left India for the United States, my father told me that I was fulfilling my destiny and both of their dreams. He wanted his only daughter Afshan to write a book in America that would not only demonstrate her knowledge, but change the world. With tall orders to follow, I immediately embraced his dream, and imagined myself becoming the ultimate authority for American business travelers to India. For the past several years I have been working on this dream. I am an expert in innovative and value creation market entry strategies for corporations wanting to enter India Markets.

What is your educational and professional background?

I was born in India and educated both in India and USA. I now live in Rockville, Maryland. Being the granddaughter of a renowned freedom fighter and thinker of India Prof. Abdul Aleem, Mahatma Gandhi has always inspired me.

I am an author, award-winning entrepreneur, speaker, educator, and a book, movie, make-up and beauty products reviewer, film critic and Radio and TV show host, a successful regulatory and business development and scientific professional, with more than a decade of experience.

I am also a great advocate of philanthropy, female empowerment and the underprivileged. It is my dream to practice as much philanthropy as possible, as well as empower every underprivileged person in my reach to achieve great heights. (In keeping with these goals, a certain percentage of my book sales will go towards further growth of the underprivileged.) To know more about me please visit my website author:
and general: www.drafshanhashmi.com


  • bigoil16

    Mughal-Influenced? That’a a joke. India is succeeding because of it’s ancient civilization and culture that far predates Mughal or other middle eastern influences. The ancient Vedic knowledge focused culture and civilization is going through a revival which is propelling India forward.

    • FindingAtlantis

      Haha, exactly! Maybe the Mughals should have used some of their own jugaad when they were getting skinned by the British!