A fine example of Jugaad

If you can’t fix something, make do with what is available. This is called Jugaad (or jugaar), and one of the most important principles in the country.

my staircaseHere we have a wonderful example. The light  bulb busted (or so I think, as it hasn’t been proven as of yet). I couldn’t reach for the ceiling, so I thought: Why don’t we call somebody? In Delhi, workman and craftspeople are called for any kind of work. Even if a nail has to be hammered into the wall. No joke, I saw exactly this happening in my office.

Anyway, I did as an upper middle class lady without much knowledge of Hindi does: I told my maid to call the electrician.

When I came home, it got fixed, but not as expected. The electrician, my maid told me, also wasn’t able to reach the lamp. And because the lamp is placed right between the descending and ascending stairs, he couldn’t place some chair or stool to shorten the distance. So he got his tool kit out, and installed a new bulb, cable and switch instead (left side of the pic).

Let me close with some of John Elliott’s words: “One of the magical things about India is its unpredictability and its ability to turn muddle and adversity into success. … Jugaad … is the knack of turning shortages, chaos and adversity into some sort of order … such as using a belt from a motorbike wheel to run an irrigation pump, using a Pringles potato chips container to bridge a piping gap in a car engine, and applying turmeric powder to fix a radiator leak.”


“Jugaad is a brilliant patchwork solution for a deprived  and underdeveloped society, but it is not enough for a country in India’s state of development because it deters efficiency and innovation and destroys institutional structures. In the past few years, India’s pace of events has overwhelmed jugaad, making it impossible for the country to cope with basic services, projects and development – and that is now leading to the risk of implosion.” (from Elliott’s book “Implosion. India’s Tryst with Reality”)

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