Rural India

Innovation in Rural India: Jugaad and Beyond…

Innovation in Rural India: Jugaad and Beyond…


Rural India

Rural India (Photo credit: waterdotorg)


There may not be a literal translation of the word Jugaad in any other language, since the concept is a very deep rooted Indian philosophy of managing within the limited available resources.


It may be loosely be translated into English as Pragmatism, which is a very unique Indian value, ingrained deeply in most of us. We all try our hands at Jugaad, one way or the other from our childhood.


  • Newly available opportunities as well as the lack of clear guidelines at some level lead to the individual developing coping mechanisms that feel most appropriate for a situation.
  • A street smart approach in order to stay on top of things today


 There are some negative connotations to it. The approach may mean ‘Taking Shortcuts’ or ‘Unnecessary Risk’ or ‘Manipulation’ – which leads to some apprehensions about the term ‘Jugaad’ that it may lead to a ‘Compromise’ further leading to a culture which may not appreciate ‘Quality’ and lack of willingness to remunerator the ‘true innovators’. Therefore it very critical to avoid swaying in only one direction. Jugaad must lead to a permanent, high quality solution, not a ad-hoc approach which kills the opportunity for a true innovation


This is what is known as Jugaad in the rural north Indian areas, an improvised vehicle assembled locally at a very lost cost, used as a mean of Transportation for people and material.


Jugaad Bus

Jugaad Bus


The above is a physical manifestation of Jugaad, aptly called a ‘Jugaad’. Made by mounting a diesel water pump on chassis of a trolley, attaching it with a steering rod & wheel. A barrel or a drum placed on the trolley was used as a fuel tank. At a cost of less than Rs 20000/- it was a lifeline for the farmers who could not afford any other mechanical transport in those days. A solution was created for a seemingly impossible situation and a basic need .Gradually it became an inspiration to find a common sense solution or the out of the box solution to every, problem, person, thing or a situation.


Chhakda Bike-Cab

Chhakda Bike-Cab


Low cost of acquisition and even lower operational cost, easy serviceability made these a profitable alternative to expensive Automotive solutions.


The word Jugaad came into mainstream debate & discussion in the 1990’s and in 2000’s it was accepted in English language as an equivalent Clever, Low Cost, innovative solution.


The reasons for the popularity of Jugaad in our day-to-day life in India are very simple.


  • Scarcity of Resources – A culture of shortage, lack of everything
  • Low Affordability – marginal economic growth
  • Alienation from global technological advancements


‘Jugaad Technology’ – Local Innovation in Rural India


In India, close to ~70% of population still lives in Rural/ semi-urban areas. In rural India people face a new challenge everyday so they have their own mindset to resolve the problems; hence they have precious resource of innovation. They are habitual to face new obstacles in day-to-day life; every impediment thus became an opportunity to create something new. Further the necessity to use their competitive advantage and their ability to struggle for survival also makes them innovators.


 People in rural India have an ability to utilize almost all the things which any one can throw away easily and this concept of optimum utilization of the available resources is very well known as ‘Jugaad’. This Jugaad can almost make anything possible. Also Jugaad is for everyone without regard to race creed or color; it does not know any geographical boundaries. The mindset of individuals in rural India is that – where there is Jugaad there is a way‖ every time they have an alternate way to do the things anyhow. Individuals in rural India would like to do in their own way as per according to their customized application requirement for a particular task and this diversification leads towards the innovation. Moreover a Jugaad technology is the suitable word for such kind of innovations in rural India. Below are some of the examples of Jugaad technology in Rural India:


Dial a Motor


This system enables the user to switch ON or OFF an electrical motor with the use of Mobile phones. This mobile operated motor control system is very common in rural India to operate the motor pump from any distant location for irrigation purpose.


Dial a Motor


Innovative Seed cum Fertilizer Drill


It is a blend of fertilizer and seed drill to offer maximum work at lower cost. The seed drill works on an advance single metering mechanism which works accordingly for single and multiple rows. This equipment can be used for single seed sowing and also for the mixed cropping sowing. This product is patented (365/ DEL/ 2008) and has been in production under the enterprise Shree Art & Agriculture Udhyog, Jodhpur.


Seed-Fertilizer drill


Motor Bike Powered Irrigation System


This Innovative Irrigation system is powered by a functional motor bike that is on the spot converted to the prime-mover for a pump. This pump is often in used open channels and ponds to deliver water for irrigation or other purposes


Motorcycle powered irrigation


Diesel SUV- Jugaad version


This Jugaad version diesel SUV is assembled with of obsolete material and used for agriculture and cattle farming purpose for carrying fodder, grass, grains etc. Also please note the substitute for the door!


Low cost SUV


Motor Cycle Driven Ploughing Device


Motor Cycle Driven Ploughing Device for small farms and for horticulture which may be inaccessible to standard tractors.


Motorcyle driven plough


Multi Crop Thresher


Multi Crop Threshers can process multi crops like wheat, bajara and many more with good efficiency hence it reduces the extra investment for threshing other crops. It uses the power of a tractor; No breakage of grain; cleaning is quite better, no further cleaning is required


Multicrop thrasher


Jugaad and its relationship to innovation – Tim Leberecht, Frog Design


Tim Leberecht of Frog Design wrote about the worth of Indian innovations in a recent Article, as per author‘s description the term Jugaad (pronounced “joo-gaardh”) is a colloquial Hindi word that describes a creative ad hoc solution to a vexing issue, making existing things work and/or creating new things with scarce resources.


 Although sometimes used pejoratively (in the sense of a makeshift cheap fix), it is now widely accepted as a noun to describe Indian-style innovation (some also call it “Indovation”) – describing the inventiveness of Indian grassroots engineers and scientists that have led to the pedal-powered washing machine, inspired the extra-low-cost Tata Nano car, or the success of India‘s space program.


It is, in short, the art of holistic thinking, of unbound, resilient creativity, and of improvisation and rapid prototyping under severe constraints. Jugaad is a symptom of a structural challenge in India, inadequate distribution and service networks prevent necessary goods and services from being readily available to those who most need them.


Jugaad is our word for reinvention


Millions of Indians use creative means to solve problems on their own. In this process they generate concepts and implement in their routine jobs. One such person is Mansukh Jagani, 42, who already has an invention patented by the Grassroots Innovation Augmentation Network (GIAN) in the US and in India. His Jugaad—an agricultural implement that can level, plough, weed and sow farmland. This machine cost him 40% less than a mini-tractor. With the help of a Royal Enfield Bullet‘s petrol engine and a two-wheeled farm tiller


From Jugaad to Systematic Innovation: The Challenge for India


(Book written by Prof Rishikesha Krishnan, Professor of Strategy & Jamuna Raghavan Chair Professor of Entrepreneurship at IIM Bangalore )


India firms have failed to build an innovation capacity because of issues of ownership and control, and a number of deeply embedded social and cultural barriers to innovation. These include poor teamwork, the enduring importance of upward hierarchical progression, and a weak systems and strategic orientation. To overcome these problems, India needs to move from a paradigm of Jugaad (or creative improvisation) to one of systematic innovation. Specifically, India needs to


  • Create a critical mass of new, innovative, technology-driven firms
  • Enhance the technological capability of existing micro, small, and medium enterprises
  • Transform large enterprises
  • Create a new incentive system for universities and other institutions of higher education
  • Continue and enhance the process of dynamic reform of public R&D organizations
  • Change the structure of government involvement in supporting industrial R&D
  • Create supportive societal conditions for industrial innovation


Jugaad Innovation


(Book by Navi Rajdou and his co-authors Simone Ahuja and Jaideep Prabhu)


Book talks about the 6 principles of Jugaad




  1. ‘Seek opportunity in adversity’: Never look at a glass as half empty, but as half full. Reframe every challenge.
  2. ‘Do more with less’:  That‘s about both reducing costs and raw materials, also adding more value. It‘s not just about cheaper products, but also adding tremendous value. It‘s not about poor quality.
  3. ‘Think and act flexibly’: Do not be attached to any business model. Think like IBM, which redid its values
  4. ‘Keep it simple’: Sometimes, companies lose touch with this idea, and tend to over engineer products. Simplicity also applies to customer interactions, and of course product and organizational goals.
  5. ‘Include the margin’: Often times, in the West, companies look at marginal segments as low income and not profitable. Think of Walmart, now innovating by setting up money centers in stores, several households are under banked. They can cash checks in stores and transfer money
  6. ‘Follow your heart’: This is where you’ll find empathy, passion, intuition, all important qualities. Yes, they‘re less about ―knowledge.‖ But now we‘re entering a correction era after the Great Recession. By following your heart, you‘ll find a larger purpose for your company and products, more employee engagement, more loyalty to your brand








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