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by Vijoy Alexander

The ‘Missed Call’ phenomenon is a ‘Jugadi’ concept innovated and used mainly by Indians. The caller dial a number and when it rings once or twice he cuts the call; naturally, the person on the other end will call back; thus saves money by the caller. It is called Jugad.

Chotukool is a low-cost solution to preserving perishable foods for longer periods, mainly meant for villages who had never used a refrigerator before. Chotukool is the brainchild of Gopalan Sunderraman, Executive Vice President of Godrej & Boyce Manufacturing, a 100-year-old company based in Mumbai, India.  Chotukool is a 45-liter plastic container that can cool food to around 8 to 10 degrees on a 12-volt battery. Abandoning the compressor technology used in domestic fridges, it uses a thermoelectric or solid state cooling system. It does not have a front opening door but opens from the top to ensure that the maximum amount of cool air remains in the container when opened.  Chottucool the prestigious Golden Edison Awards. It is also a classic example of Jugadi.

View classic examples of Jugaad here

What is Jugadi?


Jugaad is a native Hindi word and which has become a buzzword all over the world and especially in management fields. It is the solution from out of the box thinking. It is the need of the hour, quick and using the locally available resources to fix the problems. ” Says a former Deputy Chief Engineer, Mr. Manoj Charantimath. He continues ” Developed countries have a routine and standard lifestyles with a set of solutions say X, Y, and Z and they use the best out of them. If any small problem arises in their lifestyles, they panic as they are not used to such problems. 

India is a developing country, every day one or the other person encounters typical problems. Solving the problems is part of their life. Different situations inspire ingenious solutions. To solve these problems one doesn’t need any special skills, big investments, in fact, the solutions are unplanned. They are intuitive and sixth sense solutions. It is a frugal innovation. They look very simple but very useful. “

According to Wikipedia ” Jugaad (alternatively Juggaar) is a colloquial Hindi (Devanagari: जुगाड़) and Punjabi word, which has various meanings depending on the situation. Roughly translated, jugaad is a “hack.”[1] It could also refer to an innovative fix or a simple workaround, a solution that bends the rules, or a resource that can be used in such a way. It is also often used to signify creativity: to make existing things work, or to create new things with meager resources.”. Recently, the word Jugaad is added to the Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary too.

Jugad is a very raw innovative product or system invented for the immediate use. For example, a water bottle can be converted into a water spray.  Whether it involves broken belt buckles that have been replaced with forks, small chairs tied to the front of motorcycles to provide extra seating, or washing machines used to churn out the butter. Have you ever thought of fixing a cycle bell on your motorbike when the honk was not working? Examples of jugaad can be seen every day in India.

The world famous Dabbawallah of Mumbai is the prime example of Jugaad. The dabbawalas collect hot lunches in lunchbox from homes and restaurants and deliver to people at work in India. The empty boxes will be collected and returned to home before the worker reaches home. It is a network of over 5000 people delivering over 8 million lunches every year for the last 127 years. The error rate is 1 in 16 Million.

Around 8 million lunches are delivered every year by dabbawalas ( ) … And no better example of this intricate system shines through than in Mumbai. … process an efficient breeze for the last 127 years, feeding thousands daily.

Jugaad’s primitive version was an innovation out of situation especially for manipulation in one way or other. For example, empty mineral water bottles were used to refill ordinary water with a sealed cap and sold for a premium price.

Over the years the concept has changed from cunning to ingenious. The corporates and business schools refer the term ‘Jugaad’ as ‘ Crisis Management’ for ‘ Frugal Innovation’. In short, it is a ‘ make it with what you have to get it run.

The main problem with such innovations are it is not accepted widely and cannot be fitted to every situation. According to Rishikesha T Krishnan, a professor at IIM Bangalore, products made from jugaad do not count as innovation because they lack the ability to scale and do not fit with the aspirations of the mainstream Indian consumer.

But these small efforts can contribute to a larger innovation, at least one out of a thousand.


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