Have you heard about how ‘Jugaad’ is slowly becoming the most recent buzzword in corporate jargon? Navi Radjou talks about this Indian strength of ‘Jugaad’ which denotes an improvisational style of innovation that’s driven by scarce resources and attention to a customer’s immediate needs, not their lifestyle wants.
I am introducing a new Indian construct which will exceed ‘Jugaad’ in the Corpo Top 10 very soon. It’s a word from the holy city of Allahabad, but does not have any holy connection.
It is called BAKAYTI.
Bakayti’s etymology is unknown. It may have evolved in one of the college hostels where keen and eager students huddled, with serious commitment, on a wintry night, making bombs. Or, in a chai-dukaan outside Kutchery as an important deal was being struck. Or maybe, during one of the steering committee meetings of the Sri Ramlila Utsav Mandali, when things got a little tense.
It does not matter when it was invented. It is an important skill, state of the mind, and attitude to have for entrepreneurial success. It is that rare gift that will differentiate the losers from the winners.
Let me try and explain what it means, using small cases to illustrate my point:
1. Bakayti is about going on the offensive early in the game – Here is how this is exhibited : You have just walked into a shop. The salesman is attending to another customer who is close to making a choice. You ask in a loud voice, addressing no one in particular, ‘Will anyone attend to me or should I just leave?’ This will send several people in a flurry. Most will never come to know that your threat was unsolicited, as they rush to your service. They will just assume that you have been wronged.
2. Bakayti is about Brazen Renege – You reach the Hair Saloon at 4:50 pm for your 5:00 pm appointment. The receptionist squirms uncomfortably and checks with you over and over again whether you really have an appointment. When you stand your ground, he summons the Bakayit Floor Manager who says,’ You will have to wait for 45 minutes’. You try to insert the trump that you had an appointment. He drowns your voice, ‘I don’t know about that. You can wait.’
3. Bakayti is about defying logic to suit self by baffling others– I saw an Amul Milk Delivery van today. It looked like an ambulance. It was painted white and on the front, there was bold red-lettering saying ‘ON EMERGENCY DUTY’. I wonder what kind of emergency would require critical delivery of milk? How this helps is that many vehicles make way for this one, while those drivers scratch their heads, wondering why they are doing so?
4. Bakayti is about butting in – You are at the ATM counter. You are aware that the magnetic strip on your card is slightly damaged and it takes few attempts to get it working. The person next in line watches you, as you try, peering from between the smoked-glass strips on the transparent door. At your third attempt, he throws the door open and suggests, ‘Maybe you are ‘out-of-balance’(another Allahabadi term), or maybe, it has already deducted the money and the machine is out or order or maybe…’
You cut him short with a cold stare. He does not give up. He continues talking, now to the security guard, ‘I am just trying to help. I know about these things. Once my Mrs went to an ATM…’
One might argue that the Bakayit sounds like a ruffian, a hooligan. On the contrary, he is a charming character. He can appease as smoothly as he can ruffle. He never carries a grudge. He judges the moment for the merit of that moment.
He wears his heart on his sleeve, or rather his sleeve on his heart, which means, his hand is guided straight by his heart to punch a face or pat a back. He is a diplomat without the obsequious, slimy ways of many a typical diplomat.
Finally though Bakayti seems like a male construct, representatives are found in both genders. I have personally had the pleasure of spending my formative years in the company of many Bakayit girls. In fact, most of my role models, as several of you will vouch for, were those girls, never the ones who strutted around in high heels lamenting a broken nail.
So, are you ready to embrace Bakayti? I will shortly launch a 7-month crash certification course in the same. Looking for teachers as well…