Unravelling India's innovative streak

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This was the high noon of the shortage economy. Necessity, the old cliche goes, is the mother of invention. That must make scarcity the father of innovation. India had to make do with very little, and as a result, every Indian, in his or her own way, became a master at jugaad, a Hindi word with pan-Indian usage that is, really, impossible to translate. It describes as nothing else does the ability to creatively "manage," to make do with quick-fix solutions. Jugaad developed into a survival skill for most Indians. It was the additional resource that gave greater returns within a framework of scarcity. Every obstacle thus became an opportunity, a showcase for ingenuity. My first experience with this phenomenon was on the road to the boarding school in the Himalayan foothills where I studied. I encountered an invention that Henry Ford would probably have taken off his hat to. It was the reused chassis of a bullock cart, powered by the engine end of a motorcycle.