On the Move (2018 | Issue 1)

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India can be quite a treasure trove when it comes to resourcefulness. In certain rural or remote parts of the country where proper transportation systems aren’t in place, people simply innovate! They either become jugaadu inventors or use other people’s inventions to get around. What’s Up, Germany? gives you a glimpse of some ingenious vehicles that necessity brought to life.

Jugaad. A simple word that encompasses an entire world. It has so many different meanings. It’s about getting things done by improvising with limited resources. It’s a clever solution born out of adversity. Some might call it a hack or a workaround. Whichever way you look at it, making existing things work or creating new things with whatever you have in hand requires great creativity. And Indians are masters of jugaad. We have a quick fix for just about everything!

Today, jugaad is also accepted as a management technique and a form of frugal innovation. Companies are using the concept to reduce research costs and maximise resources. Experts at the University of Cambridge are of the view that jugaad holds important lessons for both emerging and developed economies. In India, jugaad is present in spirit and in kind: We have a vehicle by that name!


True to its name, the jugaad is an improvised vehicle assembled on a shoestring budget. Made of wooden planks and old spare parts from jeeps, it is used to transport goods and people in villages. Today, this fourwheeler is one of the most cost-effective transportation solutions for rural Indians. They are a common sight in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, and are playfully painted in bright colours or decorated with bells and chains.


A Gujarati version of the jugaad, the chhakda is designed like a tri-motorcycle: a Royal Enfield motorbike with a diesel engine that is attached to a two-wheeled carriage. Founded by Jagjivanbhai Chandra in the 1970s, the chhakda can easily carry 20 people in one go. Though these hardy beasts often end up with a load of 30 or more! Lakhs of villagers rely on them for their daily work.

Meen Body Vandi

Another variant of the north Indian jugaad is the south Indian meen body vandi (fish cart). Popular in Tamil Nadu, it is a motorised tri-wheeler with a heavy-duty suspension and motorcycle engine. As for its “fishy” origins, it was the brainchild of local fishermen who needed a cheap mode of transportation.

Cycle Rickshaws

If you’ve sat on a cycle rickshaw, you’ll appreciate how much of a masterpiece it really is. These “simple soldiers” provide last-mile connectivity and are non-polluting. So much a part of our daily commute and culture, they are used to ferry goods and people.To reduce the burden on rickshaw-waalas, they are being equipped with batteries that run an electric motor.

Micro Jeep

In an attempt to tackle everyday traffic, Bawar Singh, a 60-year-old mechanic from Punjab, constructed a micro jeep from scrap in his backyard! Powered by a scooter engine, it can go upto 60 km/h. Odd as it may look, it certainly gets the job done! And he has even sold a few over the years.

“Frugal innovation is the ability to create more economic and social value using fewer resources.
Frugal innovation is not about making do; it’s about making things better.”
— Navi Radjou, innovation strategist & co-author of Jugaad Innovation