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Our country thrives on the concept of  jugaad. “Jugaad” a very commonly said word among the people of India, is the Hindi slang for when one comes up with an improvised and efficient solution for something difficult. Jugaad is a hack or as one can say the way to simpler life for us Indians. We have been finding “jugaads” ever since, be it sharpening the pencil from both the sides or storing liquids in used Cola bottles in the kitchen. We have always found our ways to utilise the given resources to the fullest.

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Jugaad Innovation is a book about having a versatile and an economical outlook towards innovation. The book starts with the story of Mitticool’s invention by Mansukh Prajapati. Mansukh Prajapati, an Indian living in the village of Ramakrishna Nagar, Gujarat is a trained potter with minimal education. When an earthquake struck his village in the year 2001 he came across this story, published in his local newspaper about the calamity along with which was a photo of broken “mitti” (earthen) pots which read “Poor man’s fridge broken.” This was because the villagers used these earthen pots to store cool water. The caption of the photo which was supposed to be witty sparked an idea in Prajapati’s head. He contemplated the use of clay to make a “refrigerator” which could work without electricity and thus was affordable so that the villagers could use to store their fruits and vegetables to keep them fresh. He named his invention Mitticool, “mitti” meaning earth. The fridge worked in a way that the water in its top compartment moved through its walls and created an evaporation effect that would cool the food in the bottom compartment. 

Mansukh Prajapati considered the limitation of no electricity as an opportunity to innovate something to overcome something rather than a complication. After this invention, he carried out a few experiments and thus  further developed Mitticool which he sold to the villagers for around $50. His product gained much popularity because of its efficiency and affordablity which evoke another idea in his mind. He decided to take the artisanal skill of pottery and transform it into a mass manufacturing method. He discovered various ways in which he could use the clay and taught them to the women of his village. He later went on to invent another clay product- a frying pan that absorbed the given heat efficiently and it costed only $2. Prajapati not only invented extremely useful daily need products that were economical but also created employment opportunities for the poor and thus started a small industrial revolution in clay pottery. This altogether is an excellent example of how a man used his resourcefulness and determination to achieve something despite of the listed limitations. Pure innovation. 

The book further talks about examples of jugaad innovation from the West. Though jugaad very often seems to be drawn parallel to Indian entrepreneurs, the concept is an unwritten law in the West. Benjamin Franklin one of the founding fathers of the USA was an inventor of the jugged prototype. He invented several products to make the lives of people simpler, which was his only motive. His inventions include the Franklin stove, the lightning rod, bifocals, a carriage odometer, etc. Another example is that of Cyrus McCormick, an American farmer of the 19th-century. He used the insubstantial amount of resources to devise a mechanised reaper which could automate grain harvesting. He made use of his family’s barn to carry out his “lab” work. McCormick’s invention brought about a drastic change in the farmer world by increasing crop productivity and thus increasing the food supply. Next he developed new and improvised plows.

Then came the drawbacks. When the companies realised the importance of jugaad sensibility they wanted further work on it and thus they went on to initiate R&D departments which could possibly help them to have a defined and better approach towards innovation. They started investing a lot more in R&D in hopes of increasing the efficiency of their ideas however they were missing an important point here that “Money can’t buy innovation.” Thus it can be said that these departments became blinkered and uncompromising. 

The book next talks about the complexities faced by the Western firms- scarcity, diversity, interconnectivity, velocity and breakneck globalisation. Due to recession the firms have a tight budget for resources and to top it off the natural resources are becoming scarce which has to led to a drop in sales and profit. A particularly structured perspective to innovation does not line up with the diverse features of the society today.