Jugaad — to Indians, it is more than just life-hacks

You might not have much, but with a jugaad mindset, you can do anything.

‘Jugaad’ is a colloquial Hindi word that refers to non-conventional, frugal innovation. But it’s not just a word. Jugaad is a mindset, one that has been adopted by Indian citizens as a way of life and has made its way into the corporate world as a management technique.

But where did this idea of jugaad come from? There is no single answer to this — many look to different aspects of Indian history and culture.

Some say it could be a product of thousands of years of Indian history, influenced by Hinduism, Islam, British rule, and Western business systems1.

What do you do when you want to watch television but can’t get the signal? Build a makeshift TV antenna out of coat hangers to work around your problem, of course!

That’s the embodiment of the jugaad mindset — improvising a solution by thinking outside of the box. This innovative approach has been so ingrained in public consciousness that it is today seen as an Indian virtue.

The Indian government has recently used jugaad on a bolder scale: they launched the first Asian spacecraft to orbit Mars at a smaller budget than the Hollywood film Gravity2. This was driven by creative cost-cutting measures — scientists at the Indian Space Research Organisation wore plastic shower caps in place of typical headgear3. How is that for innovation?

Jugaad has and will continue to inspire innovation for many people in India. From using an upside-down clothes iron to cook instant noodles, to the invention of the electricity-free Mitticool clay refrigerator4, there seems to be no end to the resourcefulness brought about by the spirit of jugaad.

Here at Eastspring Investments, our fund managers also embrace the jugaad mindset: we strive to look at creative ways to maximise investment returns. Check out the investment opportunities at www.eastspring.com/my

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