Fan of Jugaad!


India’s famous ‘Jugaad’ spirit! In a village near Visakapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, India

The image you see above is indeed Jugaad ka Aashirwaad. Make no mistake! This is engineering on LSD, and imagination on innovation-steroids.  We met this spirited gentleman in a village close to Visakapatnam, while surveying the Maa Thota project. “I am too impatient. I can’t wait around forever for the wind to blow in the right direction. My harvest will rot and money will drain,” he tells us. In spite of the debilitating heat, by now we had become a smiling-broadly audience.

His idea is simple- He has installed a fan along a bamboo frame. The fan’s long long wire connects to the generator (the generator was originally meant for a water pump for the field but now serves this double purpose).The whole community benefits. It brings its harvest-grains here for winnowing. The wind blows now in the direction of their will. No long waiting, no despair and not much investment.  

Innovation 2

The Set-Up

Jugaad’s haphazardness bothers me most times. This time though I became a fan 🙂

The spirit of jugaad is hailed by the world as the ‘Spirit of Indian Innovation’. Jugaad is essentially out-of-the-box innovation when the innovator in question has no access to the box itself, or the box is too expensive to afford, or just logistically difficult to access. The innovation is about using resources imaginatively (sometimes wildly imaginatively) to fit imperative needs in a cost-effective manner. Given this scheme of things, more often that not jugaad entails the use of a resource much beyond its original purpose.

Companies and colleges are now attempting to incubate this spirit of frugal innovation, but one wonders whether it can be made to sprout in a manner so pre-mediated. I tend to believe that it can mushroom and bloom in places where people stretch resources to improve/accommodate life situations. For many in the country, it has become a way of life, and ingrained into the blue print of our thoughts and action. 


Make-Shift Make-Do. Source: Online

The fact that it is highly innovative and gets work done in a fraction of the cost (that one might have paid, had they even thought of a solution along the Jugaad lines- refer to pic above and below) cannot be ignored. In fact it is this that is being hailed  with attempts made to replicate this thought process. Lean thinking/agile thinking it’s called. Jugaad goes against the traditional understanding of engineering and it does not guarantee quality. Sometimes the outcomes are risky. For example when low hanging electric wires are used as clotheslines.


But Jugaad remains ubiquitous across the country. In villages especially, where resources are scarce and means of institutional support low, one sees it imbued with the spirit of enterprise and spirited enterprise. And to that we say “Salute”!