Recently I worked on a project, where I was illustrating stories of Indian Jugaad Innovation. When I started reading through the stories, I couldn’t help remembering my Grandmother. Even though I was formally introduced to the word Jugaad when I was studying design, the concept of it was introduced to me by my grandmother much earlier.
My family house is in a small town in Kerala. Even though the town is comparatively prosperous and developed, it still maintains its country style of living. Most of the houses in the neighbourhood have open spaces inside the premises with vegetation, commonly coconut trees. We also have a backyard garden with all sorts of plants and trees like the jackfruit tree, pepper, pineapple etc. A part of house supply for vegetables, fruits and herbs come from this garden. My grandmother used to take care of the garden. I remember how she used to spend most of her time outdoors, gardening, cleaning and fixing things. I have never seen her throwing away any broken or unused household products. She always used to find creative ways to fix or reuse them.
One of the memorable practice for me, was when she used to fix leaking steel and plastic buckets with sticky latex from Jack fruit tree. Yes, that’s right. For those who don’t know, it is a white sticky liquid which is released when the fruit is cut and coagulates on exposure to the air. Jackfruit was always in surplus in our house and whenever a ripened jackfruit was cut and brought in from our backyard, kids of the house used to gather around to get a mouthful. My grandmother used to cut the fruit into pieces so that we all can conveniently share it amongst us.
Usually, it’s a messy process because as soon as you cut the fruit, the sticky liquid starts oozing out. And if you are not careful it will stick to your hand and then it is difficult to clean up. But my grandmother had her own tricks. She would make small wooden sticks and roll them over the cut pieces of the jackfruit to clean it off the milky latex. This also helped in storing the latex for later use. When needed she would heat the stick with the glue over a flame and use the melting latex to seal the holes in the buckets. This was my first experience of the Jugaad concept. It was a low cost way of repairing and reusing buckets with a locally available resource. It was fascinating how she never used any glue bought from the market to fix her buckets. For several reasons Jugaad has always been a part of the Indian lifestyle especially at my home back in Kerala, thanks to my grandmother.
And when I was reading through the stories of Jugaad innovation in India I realised how the necessity and constraints becomes the most important stimulant for innovation. There are incredible and inspiring stories of how India is innovating more with less. Here are some glimpses of such stories from India.
Arunachal Muruganantham from Tamil Nadu made low cost sanitary pads when he saw his wife using filthy rags and newspapers for her menstrual cycle, as sanitary napkins.
Mansukhbhai from Gujarat modified a motorcycle to create a low cost machine which can be used to carry out various farming operations like furrow opening, sowing, inter-culturing and spraying operations.
D. Renganathan developed a mechanical tree climber which can be used for scaling palm and coconut trees.
Mansukhlal Raghavjibhai Prajapati, from Gujarat made a low-cost clay refrigerator that does not require electricity to keep food fresh.
Two brothers, Mohammad Mehtar Hussain and Mushtaq Ahmad from Assam, made low-cost windmill, which was made with locally available bamboo, tin sheet, strips of old tyres and an iron shaft. The windmill was connected to a hand-pump.
Remya Jose is the inventor of the washing-cum-exercise machine. The machine connects to a paddling system, thereby serving twin purpose of doing laundry and keeping you fit.
Illustrations where done as part of seven-minute film produced by Avinash Kumar Co-founder, Quicksand. The film shows the evolution of design in India — from deep rooted craft traditions to modern design.The film was a part of an installation hosted by the India Design Forum in London Design Biennale, 2016 that depicts the country’s layered heritage.