The Jugaadnaut

April 8, 2020

By – Arnaz Dalal
(Equitable Healthcare Access Consortium)

The colloquial Hindi word ‘Jugaad’ has various meanings depending on the context it is used in. It is loosely used to signify creativity. The essence of Jugaad is to simplify and quickly come up with a low cost and frugal innovation with resources available at hand. Jugaad is now used widely as a management principle to teach students.

We, Indians have mastered the art of Jugaad because “necessity is the mother of all invention”!!

During the last couple of weeks, the newspapers and the new channels have been talking about the Indian Jugaads which help patients breathe. While one respirator uses a windshield wiper, the other uses a door closing mechanism that powers the device. Be it an engineer from Sangli, who has designed the compressor driven-ventilator that can be used continuously for weeks or a Paediatrician from Indore, who is working with disco light technicians to rig up a low cost ventilator from scratch…or the Doctors in Nagpur’s New Era hospital who have developed a tool with which 8 patients can be put on the ventilator at one time… These are a sample of Jugaads that the country has seen being unleashed over the last several weeks…the list is indeed quite impressive. People from all walks of life are trying to help come up with novel and innovative approaches to help our healthcare system step up the fight against COVID-19. The mantra is, ‘fast, furious and frugal.’ The fact that India is by and large resource constrained, and by-and-large, Indians are innovative (‘necessity is the mother of invention’ in action!) could be possible reasons for this sudden spurt in creativity across the country.

Organizations big and small are doing their bit and working on solutions too – LVPEI’s (LV Prasad Eye Institute, Hyderabad) Centre for Innovation has made an Open Source Visor for protection of health care personnel. It is a face shield, the designs for which have been made open source for mass production by other organizations. IIT Madras students along with a Chennai-based firm are 3D printing face shields for COVID responders like medical and police staff. They are distributing this free of cost to government hospitals. The Indian Railways, the Mahindra group and many other auto manufacturing companies are also in the race to mass produce cheap and effective ventilators and ramp up production quickly to enable the Government to fight against the spread of the coronavirus in India.

Jugaads from every nook and corner of the country, to help India develop low cost ventilators, priced anywhere from Rs. 5000 to Rs. 50,000 (against premium, high-acuity ventilators that are most commonly found in hospital ICUs that sell in the USA for between USD 25,000 to USD 50,000), depending on the resources used, are a shining example of how the creative energies in the country unite in times of crisis to act as one, to come up with a cornucopia of wonderful innovation that are relevant at the ground level.

Adversity can definitely bring out the best in a country…this “Make in India” jugaadnaut will possibly be a game changer for the medical devices industry in the coming months and years.

References: – Jugaad: A New Growth Formula for Corporate America -by Navi Radjou, Jaideep Prabhu, and Simone Ahuja

The author is the CEO of Equitable Healthcare Access Consortium, a not-for-profit organisation that seeks to enhance equitable access to healthcare, education and livelihood to the people of India. The opinions expressed are her personal views.

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