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.
The largest railway system in the world runs in India and it consumes a lot of energy to run it. Back when oil was more expensive they started looking into way to lower their fuel bill from using biofuel to solar. Today, they are running one solution that will save money in the first year of operations – putting solar panels on the roof of the train carriages. The panels will collect energy and store it in batteries instead of the current approach is using an additional diesel engine to power the carriages.
The rooftop solar system was developed by Noida-based Jakson Engineers, under the direction of the Indian Railways Organisation for Alternate Fuels (IROAF). “It is not an easy task to fit solar panels on the roof of train coaches that run at a speed of 80 km per hour. Our engineering skills were put to a real test during the execution of this rooftop solar project for Indian Railways,” Sundeep Gupta, vice-chairman and managing director of Jakson Engineers told the Business Standard newspaper. Established in 2008, the IROAF initially focused on bio-diesel and compressed natural gas (CNG) to help diversify Indian Railways’ fuel mix, before looking at solar.
Indian Railways has ambitious plans for solar. By 2020, the state-run transportation network plans to generate around 1,000 megawatts (MW) of solar power, which could be scaled up to 5,000 MW by 2025. These numbers are not only significant for the railways, given that it’ll help bring down the fuel bill, but will also impact India’s overall renewable energy goal of 175 gigawatt (1 GW = 1,000 MW) by 2022.
For the region of Uttar Pradesh anemia is a big problem and the solution is to be salted. At the University of Toronto they have developed a new kind of salt that has been proven to reduce amen rates and improve the health of the population. Called double-fortified salt the new kind of salt is iron rich which took 20 years of research to create. It’s been proven to work in India so maybe it can work in other parts the world too.
Diosady began testing the efficacy of his creation during a pilot project in 2004 in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, where the government supplies impoverished school children with one hot meal each day.
Regular salt was replaced with double-fortified salt in the lunches of more than three million children, 85 per cent of whom were anemic.
“In eight months, we cured a million kids from anemia,” Diosady said. “At the end, only 50 per cent were anemic.”
India consumes a lot energy and consumption keeps growing as their economy expands. They also rely heavily on coal. The government knows that their current form of energy production causes harm and it will only get worse. As a result they have made a huge push towards solar.
Their efforts are working with coal prices being comparable to solar and now India has a burgeoning solar industry. This will continue unless the WTO gets in the way. With luck the oppressive behaviour of the WTO will lessen when they see how profitable non-destructive energy polices can be.
Solar prices are now within 15% of coal, according to KPMG. If current trends hold, the consultancy predicts electricity from solar will actually be 10% cheaper than domestic coal by 2020.
And that could turn out to be a conservative forecast. At a recent government auction, the winning bidder offered to sell electricity generated by a project in sunny Rajasthan for 4.34 rupees (6 cents) per kilowatt hour, roughly the same price as some recent coal projects.
“Solar is very competitive,” said Vinay Rustagi of renewable energy consultancy Bridge to India. “It’s a huge relief for countries like India which want to get more and more solar power.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made access to electricity a top priority, and has set the goal of making 24-hour power available to all 1.3 billion Indians. Currently, even India’s biggest cities suffer from frequent power outages.
India has an amazingly large population and I can only imagine the challenges with delivering health care to that many people. India has it somewhat figure out and they keep getting better at it. Recently the country has reduced the number of deaths from tetanus to an all time low and to a level that makes it essentially a statistical blip.
India has reduced cases to less than one per 1,000 live births, which the W.H.O. considers “elimination as a public health problem.” The country succeeded through a combination of efforts.
In immunization drives, millions of mothers received tetanus shots, which also protect babies for weeks.
Mothers who insisted on giving birth at home, per local tradition, were given kits containing antibacterial soap, a clean plastic sheet, and a sterile scalpel and plastic clamp for cutting and clamping the cord.