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Jugaad-One man’s pride is apparently our nation’s embarrassment

March 6, 2013

The concept of jugaad has exposed itself to me recently during a routine browsing through my blog reader. I wasn’t even trying very hard to find trending articles; these two just happened to pop up.

“What the west can learn from jugaad” 

“What falls to hand” 

Translated from Hindi, jugaad encompasses the practice of doing a lot with a little. In my home, we would call this “being resourceful.” Others say it is “embracing the entrepreneurial spirit.”

What caught my attention was Adelheid Fischer’s essay and description of “makeshift vehicles…made from reclaimed jeep parts and scrap wood.”  For our culture, this description recalls the popular Failblog meme “There I fixed it,” meant to poke fun at shabby duct tape repairs and “ghetto-rigged devices.”

Insane house, There I fixed it

Crazy bumper, There I fixed itEasy printer fix, There I fixed it
It’s funny. What we laugh at and pass poor judgement on is really, when you look at it, incredible inventiveness. To take parts that seemingly don’t belong together and engineer them in a functional way is a sure sign of jugaad. Sure, the design and aesthetics may not be the most attractive, but assuredly money was saved and the job rendered complete.

The Hindi culture for centuries have lived by the ideals of finding utility in scarcity; why is it so hard for us to adopt this program? It is common within the American mentality to want instant solutions. We are constantly allured by the “shiny object” and demand only the newest and top-notch materials in both our personal and professional lives. I know I’m guilty of this. I’d rather go out and buy new things the instant something breaks or fails to work they way I want to. I call on professionals to solve my problems, rather then invest time myself to learn how to solve them on my own.

Even though I’m not a follower of jugaad, I have much respect for it. Those who exhibit such ingenuity and cleverness should wear badges of honor square on their chest. Not everyone can solve a problem when materials and resources are scarce.

By +Maggie Young

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