Desi World Image of the Day – South Asian Ingenuity



India moves - The power of 'jugad'

The power of ‘jugaad’ (Photo:


In South Asia, it’s Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi

You have to give it to South Asians for out-of-the-box thinking. No access to a school bus? An auto-rickshaw will do.

No budget? How about a bicycle with seating made out of a plastic crate which fits two school kids and gets them where they have to go?

Not the ideal solution and certainly not the safest but typical of what is known in India as ‘jugaad’.

Smaller examples are the famous ‘miss call’ Indians use on the cell phone to communicate without paying for it – and the legions of creative ways of recycling just about everything. Every item has more than 9 lives and is reborn in many and surprising new avatars. In a country of over a billion people, of extreme wealth and poverty, of red tape and bureaucrats, the quick Indian mind has always found creative solutions of overcoming road-blocks.

As Devita Saraf wrote in the Wall Street Journal, “Etymology aside, I have always been convinced that the word indigenous arose from India. To make something out of limited resources is India’s genius and, therefore, indigenous.” This article shows all the creative ways businesses have flourished in India, from the amazing Amul milk co-operative to the Jaipur Foot prosthesis.

We’ve all come across innovative ways of getting results in India – do share any examples you may have!

A Lassi with Lavina reader, Rachna Daryanani, writes in: “I remember when my servant in Mumbai got a kid. He told me his father did not want to spend on a phone call,  but he wanted to know immediately. So they planned to book a PP (person to person)  call at the time. If it was a boy, it was to be booked on his name. If girl, his wife’s name. Either way he was to say person not available. This way he got the message his son was born,and no phone bill for his father!”


Do you have a photo or illustration which shows a unique glimpse of the Desi World? Do share with [email protected]


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About Author

Lavina Melwani is a New York-based journalist who writes for several international publications. [email protected] & @lassiwithlavina Sign up for the free newsletter to get your dose of Lassi!


  1. Lavina Melwani on

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    Meg Williams

    I have always marveled at their ingenuity. Just like an old saying.
    World corporations are making people in rich countries not so creative any more. All the needs are fulfilled by them.

  2. Lavina Melwani on

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    Mony Fatema

    This pic is from Bangladesh I guess, not India …

    Mony Fatema – you may be right – I got this picture from friends on FB.

  3. Lavina Melwani on

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    Neena Vaswani

    Definitely a very smart idea! How the mind works!

  4. Lavina Melwani on

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    Sunita Viswanath, Pallavi Shah, Anita Singh and 20 others like this.

  5. Lavina Melwani on

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    Tsering Namgyal

    “Ingenious India” is better than “Incredible India”….

  6. Lavina Melwani on

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    Darrel Sukhdeo

    And 2 seater at that! in #America that would only fit one eh!?

  7. Necessity is the mother of invention, isn’t it? Don’t have a photo handy just now but you will hear more on this :)

  8. Really ingenious, but, as you say, not really all that safe…or comfortable, for that matter! :)
    I’m a bit puzzled at the word Devita Saraf wrote in The Wall Street Journal: ‘indigenous’. The definition for that is ‘native to that place’, right?! So, how exactly does that relate to the photo?!