Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Universal, Entrepreneurial Concept of "Jugaad"

Nick Schulz at The Enterprise blog points today to a news report featuring a Legatum Institute study about India's entrepreneurial sector, and a separate related blog post, which both discuss the concept of "jugaad," a Hindi word describing entrepreneurial ingenuity in the face of adversity, equivalent in English translation to "making do," "jury-rigging," or using a "duct-tape arrangement." 

According to the "Our Delhi Struggle Blog," the concept of jugaad is:

Best illustrated by a common rural sight that people actually refer to as “a jugaad": a homemade vehicle made by cobbling together a wooden cart with the kind of diesel water pump farmers use for irrigation (see photo below).  Fitted with makeshift steering and braking mechanisms, these jugaad vehicles are used for everything: for transporting people from one village to another, with dozens of riders crammed together tighter than the bundles of sugarcane they are also used to transport; for trips to regional markets; and for transporting the pump itself. Farmers share or rent these pumps, and this arrangement lets the pump actually transport itself to wherever it’s needed next. These vehicles reflect the true spirit of innovation in rural India.

Here's another fine example of Indian jugaad ingenuity:
Of course, jugaad is not unique to India and is a universal philosophical outlook that applies whenever entrepreneurs are trying to solve problems with what they have, not with what they wish they had. For example, here are some fine examples of American "Redneck-jugaad," see more pictures here and here:


At 12/15/2009 11:48 AM, Blogger QT said...

Welcome contrast to the decades of the permit raj.

At 12/15/2009 12:01 PM, Anonymous Rand said...

"Necessity is the mother of invention."

At 12/15/2009 12:46 PM, Blogger BlogDog said...

You should see the There, I Fixed It blog.

At 12/15/2009 12:46 PM, Anonymous Lyle said...

The British do this a lot its called muddling thru.

At 12/15/2009 12:52 PM, Blogger DB said...

BlogDog - thanks for pointing me to the "There I fixed it" blog. Some funny (and pretty clever) stuff. Gotta love good old ingenuity.

At 12/15/2009 1:16 PM, Blogger johnsal said...

This is the developing world, not just India. Every non-consumable article has enormous value in a world without much beyond the daily bread, if that. Therefore, almost everyone learns how to keep things "running," repair them when they "stop," and adapt raw materials to other uses when necessary. What is true of India is true of Latin America, Africa, and, I'm sure, Asia.

Here is a description of how Cubans keep their pre-Fidel 1950s American cars running: "Cubans have resorted to dissecting other vehicles and shaping their own parts out of obtainable materials. Romanian diesel engines idle under some hoods; many are brightened up with a coat or two of house paint; a broken brake light is covered with red plastic from a drinking glass; or brake fluid is homemade from detergent, rubbing alcohol and tree sap."

At 12/15/2009 3:24 PM, Blogger OA said...

Thanks QT, I know from friends that they used to submit applications with a bribe underneath as standard practice. Not sure if this is still true, but I've seen sources saying once you get a government job in India its for life. It's like the lottery, and there's no incentive to do the job well.

One thing I do like about Asia is you can do stuff like ride in the back of a pickup truck. Otherwise much of the cheap mass transit would be illegal. And you can add onto a house without tons of permits and inspections. And sell food from street carts for very low prices.

At 12/15/2009 6:52 PM, Blogger BxCapricorn said...

That's why the nuclear reactor built in the Philippines, never operated.


It wasn't political BTW, the QA had been compromised during construction.

That's also why Pakistan's two reactors are radiological nightmares. The logic of shortcuts and workarounds is fine...up to a point. Have you seen the Iraqi oil production forecasts now that properly trained, profit and safety motivated organizations are on site? It's staggering.

At 12/15/2009 7:59 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

Mark, I believe the term you are looking for as a translation for "jugaad" is "kluge", esp, sense 2/"inelegant"

That stuff is definitely kluged up to do a job.

> Not sure if this is still true, but I've seen sources saying once you get a government job in India its for life. It's like the lottery, and there's no incentive to do the job well.

From reading Wired last decade, one of the major improvements through the 80s up to that point was an effort to reduce the amount of bureaucratic BS that you speak of. There was supposedly a lot of it still there, but it had improved enough that you could actually get stuff done.

I could be wrong but I *think* it was this article below -- I did not re-read it to verify, so, if that's wrong, "mea culpa", I recall this one was still kind of interesting either way:

Dish Wallahs

At 12/15/2009 9:45 PM, Anonymous IO SATURNALIA said...


Gerry-rig (Germans)
Kimshi-rig (Koreans)

But jury-rig? Isn't that illegal?


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