Jugaad – is a metaphor which in general ascribes devious and aberrant connotations to our native Indian creativity. Jugaad is a Hindi word meaning an innovative short term fix. It’s an improvised solution using ingenuity and resourcefulness, often due to very limited resources. When we talk about Jugaad innovation, we are referring to the mindset and principles that are used to make this happen. Jugaad innovation is frugal, flexible and inclusive. It’s also called gambiarra in Brazil, zizhu chuangxin in China and is most like DIY in the US. These guys don’t plan they just improvise.
Boss, Koi Jugaad hai kya? Is a casual statement, almost second nature to Indians residing north of the Vindhya’s. Jugaad, is a mentality, its a mind set. It’s no longer the preserve of the hoi polloi and has inadvertently managed to trickle down to the lowest strata of our society and is therefore no longer considered perverse. In Mumbai, Jugaad is better known as Scene. Baass, koi scene hai kya? Or the youngistan brigade would Prefix that with a “Bro” – “Bro – kuch contact hai”? Everything is abbreviated. Bhaisahab, is replaced with the infamous Bhai, Brother with Bro. These qualificatory terms “unsurprisingly” reflect a male dominated bastion. Bhai, Bro, Boss ……..I don’t see these ever being replaced by a Behenji, Sis or for want of a better word Bossini (no relation to the famed Italian Couture Brand).
Although these statements and their variants are commonplace in our psyche and lingo, they attain gargantuan proportions in some seasons. Admission time in June is one of them. Edgy students with their equally shifty parents lingering in the narrow aisles of educational institutions trying to strike up a conversation with any one remotely connected with the powers that be or simply waiting endlessly outside administrative offices with plastic folders is now passé. But what resonates seamlessly is the cliched “Boss / Bhai …kuch scene hai” Their reincarnates are found in familiar destinations around town e.g. Mantralaya, Tax Offices, Legislature, Colleges, Municpalities, Housing Departments etc - they are omnipresent. They swarm the crumbling corridors and canteens like eager Bollywood hanger-ons outside a producer’s office.
On a positive note, Jugaad – is a tribute to the aspirational Indian who wants to get on with life. Resource asphyxiation and paucity has forced the average Indian to think of off the cuff solutions. Solutions that is situational and born out of circumstances and necessity. There are no niceties in the solutions they devise. There is no élan and sophistication about the end product. Most of these solutions are without the usual bells and whistles that are commonplace with any Western Technology on offer. They are rugged, roughshod and earthy with a shortened life span. They are a manifestation of the life and times the average Indian survives in. The idiom Necessity is the mother of invention cannot be better understood in the Indian context.
The Innate creativity of an average Indian fulfils his “ immediate” needs with utter disregard of Markets beyond his narrow panorama of survival. His survival instincts are legendary but that also precludes him from innovating beyond his immediate survival. This is where there could be an explosion of his creativity and innovativeness if the Government of the day provides the framework and an enabling environment. There’s a saying, “Keep it simple, stupid.” Is that fundamentally at the core of frugal innovation a.k.a Jugaad – keep it simple? You refer to a Booz & Co. report that has a CEO wearing a shirt, “Spent $2 billion on R&D and all we got was this lousy t-shirt.”
The Mitti-Cool – a homegrown non-electrical refrigerator is an outstanding example of a simple, focused design as probably are some of the Apple Products. John Maeda, president of the Rhode Island School of Design, points out “It’s not necessarily beneficial to add more technology features just because we can. R & D engineers must make frugal simplicity the core tenet of their design philosophy.” I couldn’t agree more.
The man behind this unique invention Mr. Manshuk Lal Raghavjibhai Prajapati hails from a village called Wankaner District : Rajkot – Gujarat.
He started his journey as a supervisor in roof tiles Manufacturer Company of Gujarat. At the year of 1989 he started making tavdi (tawa) from the terracotta mud or mitti (as its called in India). He received an unbelievable response from market after which he started developing the mitti cool water filter in 1997 after which he launched mitti cool refrigerator in 2002. In 2004 the mitti cool (non stick tawa) was introduced for which he received an award from national and state rural development. The basic lesson we learnt is he kept the invention innovative by exploiting local materials and skills sets. The costs were frugal which allowed an excellent down stream market for his products. This is Jugaad in the true sense.
Another example of Indian Jugaad is Arvind Gupta – the toy maker who “creates” toys from day to day articles – a personification of Jugaad in the true sense. These toys are designed to infuse a feeling of thrill & literacy for which they are meant I.e. Our Children. These innocuous kids have no penchant for brands – all they are concerned with is the toy. In fact, Arvind Gupta helps these kids make their own toys, titillates their imagination towards creativity and innovativeness. This is education at its best. I had the opportunity of reproducing one of his creations for my 10 year old Son’s Science Exhibition. The Jugaad – apart from being creative and educative is also very inclusive for these young fertile minds.
They have a sense of ownership towards their homegrown creations.
Jugaad is innate. Its second nature to Indians living in deprived conditions materialistically but in sublime conditions emotionally.
The Rig Veda – says that the newborn is creativity at its best. It learns to breathe on its own thus infusing its body and it’s being with the elixir of life.
- By Amit Gupta - Technical Director at Pammvi Group of Companies
About Amit Gupta (in his own words)
Seizure by the academia: Campion School – Mumbai (1980) & Shriram College of Commerce [SRCC] – New Delhi B.Com (Hons) 1985.
b>Learning: 1985 onwards. The best trade off: A Non-Fiction without the dreaded anopheles.
Prized possession : Lughat (Lexicon in Urdu)
Passion for my soul: Urdu Poetry is sublime & ethereal – Mirza Ghalib – 200 years on and you still rock. Allama Iqbal – Bro, you rankle the cockles of my mind. Bridge aficionado a.k.a addict. Wine & Single Malt Collector. Digital Geek & Mac Fan. The one Apple I consume every day.
Threat Perception : Threatening my wife with Golf. On the precipice of hitting the green turf. Slave Driver (Forgive me Aarush).
Areas of Improvement: Some under my skin & a few under my clothes.
Food: Sea Salt Rubbed Grill Chicken with gooey mashed potatoes at Indigo – Washed down by a pint of Chilled Beer. The Seekh Kabab at Bukhara – ITC Maurya – New Delhi
Dessert: Tiramisu & an Apple Crumble with a dollop of vanilla ice cream. The Apple Phirni at the Punjab Grill.
Poison: Beer without the head in a Pre-refrigerated sweaty Glass.
Philosophy of life: Lie and Let Live.
Epitaph: The Man who stole hearts with humility and élan.