India is Crafting 21st Century Jugaad


The Hindi term jugaad roughly translates to “a type of frugal innovation or creative hack” and can be found throughout India. It’s not so much one thing as it is a conceptual approach to problem solving which stems from years of poverty and maltreatment of the lower classes (and castes) in the country. With that in mind, it hasn’t stopped wealthy corporations from seeing the benefits to such creative thinking and quick, iterative, approaches to addressing everyday problems. It’s proof that even those stuck on the fringes of society can contribute valuable knowledge (so let’s educate them more so their genius can further flourish)!

Travel through rural India and jugaad is everywhere. It’s the rickety truck powering an entire village’s electricity, or the makeshift TV aerials fashioned from coat hangers. It’s seen in the country’s garishly painted trikes, also called ‘jugaads’, that sometimes carry 20 people despite often being powered by a noisy water-pump motor and patched together from spare parts like old motorbike pieces and wooden planks.
The can-do approach is also personified by the thousands of white-capped dabbawallahs who somehow wheel precarious stacks of stainless-steel tiffin boxes safely through the chaos of Mumbai’s streets each day to deliver hot lunches and afternoon tea to the city’s 200,000 office-workers. Their estimated error rate is one delivery in 16 million, so it is little wonder FedEx has visited them to discover the secrets of their phenomenal reliability.

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