I remember the first lecture that the Director of our institute tossed our way in a jam-packed auditorium. Ofcourse he did use the obligatory powerpoint presentation as he went on to tell us first year undergrads about the challenges and opportunities that lay ahead us. But soon he realized that the fancy bullet points and animated slides could only do so much to leave anything worthwhile in the minds of his students, let alone help them in using any of his teachings in day-to-day life. And hence, he used a very crude but logical example to get the crowd excited.
He took a paper clip and asked a girl what she thought the manufacturing company of that paper clip made in a year with this little piece of, ‘technology’, so to speak. The girl was a bit stupefied by the question and our Director noticed it. And so, letting the girl relax and lay back in her seat, the Director of one of the premier technology institutes of India let out a word that made almost the entire auditorium chuckle to its tune. He said, that it didn’t matter what the exact turnover is or the cost of manufacturing and selling was in regard to his question. He only wanted to demonstrate that this ‘jugaad’ was what was reaping millions for the company. And then he told us that our job, rather our responsibility, as engineers was to found the most effective, efficient and feasible solution for a problem in an engineering layout. And that optimum solution is what us Indians have always relied on- ‘Jugaad’. This is what would make Indians the next gen inventors and innovators, and this is what would take us ahead on the path of new creations.
Not to brag about myself or anything, but as our respected Director Sir was saying the last few words, images of a little win-win story were flashing in my mind. They belonged to my High School days and given the amount of jugaad we put in for a science exhibition project, I could seriously believe then that I would become a great engineer, going by his criteria for the same. (But Alas, there are other useless things too like Mid Terms and Grade point averages to ruin the day :p ). Anyway, here is our lovely High School project story-
Back in the day, the science fairs at my school were scarce and the liberty of doing something really innovative was lacking or lukewarm. It was in such desperate times that our group of six football-playing, cricket-breathing boys took the mantel of making a Canon to be put on display for the project. Internet was scarce but we could still find the relevant data from the lovely sources we call ‘teachers’ (the real ones, mind you. Not the google teacher). We were able to sort out a basic, commonly used reaction for the same, that employed an adorable compound called Calcium Carbide. Bah, I wouldn’t bore you with much of the Chemistry here. Suffice it to say that you can get a handful of it for Rs. 10 in any car repair shop. And the jugaadoos that we were, we bought much more than a handful.
Next, we used a thick piece of PVC Pipeline left astray around my house for the initial testing of our canon. We sealed it on one end using the obligatory quick-fix (another synonym of jugaad? ) Fevi-quick. And Lo and Behold, we were good to go. The trick was simple, seal the other end with a ball, put a piece of Carbide into the pipe, add some water and give it a spark through a top hole. And SHAZAM… You have a fire emitting dragon of your own. We called it- ‘The Destructor’ (We really did, those were the days !! ).
The technique was spot on. What remained was the showmanship. How to make it look like an actual canon of the days of ‘Kranti’? No matter what my friends tell you, it was MY IDEA that we would actually install the canon body on a tricycle axle that I had seen so many times lying around at one of my friend’s house. It was a complete home-made, Ghar-ka-Vaidya recipe !! We took the axle-wheel combo from that tricycle, got a little encasing to hold the canon body welded to it, and our own mobile canon was infront of our eyes. In all its glory and might, it looked like a bazooka. But we did not stop there, another friend who had by far not done significantly much to the project was given the charge to paint up the canon. And we wanted it in Jet Black (Because… Batman). Given his love for the job, he was happy to oblige. And within a few days, we had ourselves our own batmobile.
The day the teachers of the school were to inspect the level of ‘safety’ of the project, there was a slight hiccup though. We were till then using a small hole at the top of the barrel to feed the carbide piece, water and matchstick. But that allowed considerable gas to escape and even fire could throttle out of the way. The teachers labelled it potentially dangerous but we couldn’t be stopped. Because the Indian Jagaad Gaddee had to survive. We then proposed using the general kitchen lighter with a spark button to initiate the blast. Oh wasn’t that a masterstroke, it kept the gas and fire in check, and even a little Kindergarten girl could now initiate a blast (And one actually DID. BOOM).
The exhibition was a success ofcourse, and while a silkworm cultivation farm was the clear winner, ‘The Destructor’ was what drew the most people to our corner. The Jugaad Gaddee, had run wild once again.
This and many similar little cute and cool stories of my life keep me reminded that while India keeps growing in its technological flair all over the world, its ‘desi’ innovative ideas are catching the attention of one and all. Even the large global conglomerates and institutions are recognizing this unique ‘Indian-ness’ and accepting that this growing global influence of India is one to be celebrated. Look at Lufthansa, the largest European Airline, recognizing and celebrating the same in this uber cool advertisement of theirs, stressing how it is #MoreIndianThanYouThink.
Oh and the celebration doesn’t stop here. Have a look at the amazeballs website of theirs, acknowledging and adapting the Indian way to do so much more for themselves. Visit here if you haven’t already hit the link- Take me to awesomeness.