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Innovation is the only way to beat the recession crisis, get jaw dropping bottom lines and create a skyrocket demand for jobs, thereby creating employment. This in turn boosts the country’s economic growth. However, there is only one challenge – you need all the resources and capital support to create innovation – or maybe you just need Jugaad

A Ride

We had gone on a bike ride to Himachal Pradesh, the mountainous region of India. The roads were serene and beautiful. The lush green valleys and tall, majestic mountains were breathtaking. Taking the entire view in, we decided to stop. We parked our bike on the side of the road to enjoy the scenery. While we were enjoying the lovely scene, there were kids in the parking area who started to play with the bike and before we knew, the bike fell down. This led to a damaged bike with the left brake handle broken. We quickly rushed to the closest market to find a mechanic, but unfortunately the small town marketplace had no shop that kept the spare parts of the bike we owned. We were told to head to the next big town which was a three hours ride. There was no way we could think of riding a bike for three hours on those narrow roads without a functional brake. As they say, ‘adversity is the mother of all invention’, we Indians have a word for it – we call it ‘Jugaad’.  So Jugaad is what we used to fix our bike brake. We went to a hardware store in the market and got a small rod. We plunged that rod into the brake handle opening and tightened it in place with a lot of clear tape. With this ‘jugaad brake handle’ we rode till the next town. We Indians are known to use such hacks or make shift arrangements that we call ‘Jugaad’.

What is Jugaad?

Jugaad – the Hindi word does not have a direct translation in English language, but Oxford dictionary now defines it as a flexible approach to problem-solving that uses limited resources in innovative ways.

Simply put – it is ways or means to get things done through limited resources or a make do way with whatever is at hand. It’s a science and an art – a skill that Indians are famous for and a lot of developing countries are using it due to their lack of resources.

We use Jugaad in our everyday lives, but when it is used in the work place it can create magic and how. Jugaad is a concept used by most of us, be it a watchman in a building or an executive in a big company. Let me share with you an example of how both, a watchman and a marketing executive used Jugaad in their daily work life to solve their problems.

The watchmen in my building are required to sit near the gate and oversee the security of the building. One of their tasks is to open the gate manually every time a vehicle enters or exits the building. This meant they had to get up from their seat a number of times leading to a lot of time waste and aching feet. They successfully solved this problem by using the Jugaad technology. They used a common object- a rope that is readily available and tied one end of it to the gate and the other end stays in their hand. So every time they need to open the gate, they just have to pull the rope and tadaaa… the gate opens. This is how they used Jugaad to reduce the time of opening and closing the gate.

Now let me share with you an example of how an executive of a big company used Jugaad in his work. This executive was a marketing head in the company. His responsibility was to create a gesture based user interface presentation for his CEO, which means the laptop would capture and interpret the CEO’s gestures as commands and the slides would transition accordingly. But as luck would have it, an hour before the presentation someone stepped on the device that detects the gestures and the device was broken into two pieces. Considering there was only an hour to go for the presentation, the device could not be replaced or repaired. The marketing head had to save the situation and his job, so Jugaad was the only thing that could save him. What he did next is one of the best examples of Jugaad. He made a person sit in a corner, hidden, with a wireless keyboard. Every time the slide had to change, the person with the keyboard would observe the CEO’s gestures and would change the slides. This not only helped the marketing manger escape a major crisis, but the CEO and the people from the audience appreciated the marketing head & the team. Talk of being a Jugaadu (a word used to describe a person using jugaad)

Impact of Jugaad

India is a developing nation, which means we have limited resources. Jugaad that was used in solving everyday struggles, like in my bike ride illustration, has found its way in the business world too. This concept has helped our economy grow as there are lot of small entrepreneurs mushrooming using the jugaad technology.

A popular example of Indian Jugaad is when young Manukhbhai Prajapati from Gujarat designed a low-cost clay fridge. It required no electricity and continued to function in the event of major catastrophes or blackouts such as the one that devastated his village during the earthquake. He created a low cost solution for the problems of the locals. This clay fridge is said to keep the food fresh and better than the regular fridge that we use.  Manukbhai had no capital or the technical knowhow to build a fridge, but he knew clay making. He used that skill to create a fridge that required resources from his backyard. He used Jugaad. Jugaad helped him to create a product to solve a problem, build a business and employ other people, thereby creating employment.

Jugaad is frugal innovation that helps us come up with low cost solutions to solve our daily problems and is now adding to our economy’s growth.

Take the case of Murugantham. He lives in a small village in Coimbatore. When he saw his wife facing troubles during her menstruation cycle where she had to use rags and newspapers, as the products by MNCs were expensive, he knew he had to do something. But given that he had no access to the required resources and finances, he used the Jugaad technology. He used whatever was at hand to create a grass root machine that can manufacture sanitary napkins for less than a third of the cost of commercial pads. Through his jugaad innovation he is spreading awareness about unhygienic practices around menstruation and helping solve women’s struggles. He has installed the machine in 23 states out of 29. This is one of the many examples of individuals using Jugaad for creating products and starting a business.

India is a growing economy and a hot bed for startups. However, as per our last census approximately 70% of the population stays in rural areas. The support, resources and financial backing required is quite less in these areas and hence we hear a lot of businesses that are created using Jugaad technology.

India – a developing economy

India has launched various government initiatives like Make in India and digital India, which has numerous foreign companies setting up their facilities in India. The Government of India, under the Make in India initiative, is trying to give boost to the contribution made by the manufacturing sector and aims to take it up to 25 per cent of the GDP from the current 17 per cent.

However, these initiatives will take a long time to give staggering results as a large part of our developing country does not have the capital or know how to become entrepreneurs. So the victory of most of the businesses lies in the application of Jugaad.


India is the fastest growing economy in the world as per the central statistic organization and IMF.  Our economy has been significantly benefitted by becoming a major exporter of IT services and BPO services. However, another thing to remember is that India has managed to create an economy where we create what we need from what we have. We quite often see examples of Jugaad, be it at home or at workplace, all we need to do now is to encourage this concept and let it work it’s magic and create an impact on the economy. I truly believe that the future of our economy, of a developing country like India lies in our ability to make in India and Jugaad is a big part of it.

Let me know in the comments below if you agree that Jugaad is a big contributor to a growing economy. Also leave me a comment if you have ever used Jugaad in your everyday life

by Gauri Palekar

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