Indian way of innovation: the jugaad technology

Jugaad is an Indian phrase used to describe the kind of ingenuity that enables Indians to manage the large and small challenges of everyday life. The essence of Jugaad is to improvise, and to quickly and cheaply cobble a solution together from the materials you have at hand.

In 2012, The Universe Foundation, as part of a larger project on “frugal” solutions, has conducted extensive research on the Jugaad concept, including visits and discussions with a number of the leading Indian companies that deliberately aim to create low-cost solutions. Such leading companies around the world such as GE, Google, PepsiCo, Philips, Renault-Nissan, Siemens, Facebook, Suzlon, Tata Group, and Yes Bank are practising various principles of jugaad or frugal innovation and are learning from grassroots innovators in emerging economies such as India.

Approach for jugaad is as simple, but driven by a different mindset who could Combining old and new solutions.

A well known example of Indian innovation which is easy to understand the core principles for jugaad technology.

Mansukh Prajapati who has designed a fridge that costs Rs 2500/-, is made out of clay (it is called Mitticool) and runs without electricity. Prajapati’s innovation has made it possible for even people in rural India have access to cool water and the option to store fruit and vegetables for upto three days. Prajapati has no degree in engineering. In fact he didn’t even finish school. That is jugaad innovation at its best.


Thus according to a previous study Jugaad innovation is based on six operating principles:


For example: there are several innovations which can showcase our jugaad technology

  • Automatic Pump Operator
  • Amphibious Bicycle
  • Bullock Operated Sprayer
  • Compost Aerator
  • Gas (LPG) Operated Iron (Press)
  • Washing Cum Exercise Machine
  • Mitticool
  • Tractor
  • Tea making machine
  • Panihari

Government, University and Global Initiatives for the Jugaad Movement

Country Government Initiatives NGOs/Foundations Academic Initiatives
US White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation (SICP) Kaufmann Foundation, Venture for America, Deshpande Foundation (eg. Merrimack Valley Sandbox) Stanford University’s Entrepreneurial Design for Extreme Affordability; Santa Clara University’s Frugal Innovation Labs; Design for America (DFA)
UK ‘Big Society’ initiative (eg. grassroots owned schools) University of Cambridge’s Inclusive Design Programme)
India National Innovation Foundation HoneyBee Network IBM-ISBservice innovation programme
Global New York’s Next Idea Innovation Competition Ashoka Hub, Skoll Foundation’s Social Edge Stanford-India BioDesign Programme

Several initiatives are taken by big corporates to encourage innovation fostering culture to transform our jugaad technology to innovation science. The Godrej India Culture Lab is a fluid experimental space based out of the Godrej Headquarters in Vikhroli, Mumbai that explores what it means to be modern and Indian. Established in January 2011, our cultural investigations have come in many forms, shapes and sizes and have served as catalysts to break open powerful ideas that are contained within rigidly defined silos.


So if we see the conclusion, India has various colors to see. Jugaad till now was limited to India and its subcontinents whereas the current situation is that it is spreading all over the world.

“Innovation is going to be critical for India – not only for growth and competitive advantage, but also to ensure our future development is sustainable and inclusive,” according to Sam Pitroda, chairman of India’s National Innovation Council. The innovations need to manage with scarce resources, and be affordable and environmentally sustainable. “Today we are a nation of a billion connected people,” says Pitroda, and this will change industry, education and government in India.

Fact file:

In Brazil frugal innovation is called “jeitinho brasilero”, which basically applies to the very complex situations and problems, where the possible solution is very difficult to find. In terms of innovation “jeitinho” means creating products or solutions to certain problems with instruments that you have on hand.