In Hindi, the term jugaad refers to “making do,” creating a “workaround,” or developing creative solutions to making something useful out of what is at hand. As a noun, it can also refer to a specific workaround, a repair, or even a hack, such as building a vehicle for public transit out of parts from several discarded vehicles. Jugaad is not just a term but an entire sensibility of resourceful and creative approaches to working within limited resources. “Although Jugaad is an Indian concept, such tendencies are found in other non-European contexts as well, such as Jua Kali in Kenya, Rasquachismo in Mexico and Gambiarra in Brazil. It could also be understood in terms of practices such as DIY, hacking, kludging, etc. in Western contexts.”[i] Jugaad also represents the cultural context of a semiskilled labor-market repairing, maintaining, or modifying technical products such as smartphones, speakers, DVD players, TVs, and so on. According to the Indian American design scholar Deepa Butoliya, this practice of “making do” is not a single case in point, but rather a common sight in many Indian cities.
These and similar approaches to “making” are culturally unique and at odds with global corporate interests. People use “ingenious making practices like Jugaad as a tool for existence, subversion and criticality against colonial powers of oppression.”[iii] Butoliya sees them as examples of innovation and ingenuity that should be considered in Western approaches to technological development and maintenance in order to divert Westerners away from a highly unsustainable throwaway culture.
[i] Deepa Butoliya, “There Is No Prescriptive Way to Do Speculative and Critical Design,” interview by James Auger, Speculative Edu, July 2, 2020, https://speculativeedu.eu/interview-deepa-butoliya/.
[ii] Butoliya, “Critical Jugaad and Maker Ecologies of the Global South.”
[iii] Butoliya, “Critical Jugaad,” in Ethnographic Praxis, 544.