Insight: It’s not terrible, it’s not great, it’s just Jugaad!

India has quickly become one of the world’s largest countries in terms of both population and boasts one of the fastest growing economies, prompting us here at the Martin Prosperity Insti-tute to begin to examine the Creative economy within the country. While India continues to grow, many cities within the country are already highly populated and continuing to grow at a high rate. As these cities continue experience rapid urbanization, they will face many challenges from an urban planning perspective.

One of the most commonly used terms in India is jugaad; a term that has many meanings, but which is often used to describe an innovative quick fix to a problem or something that is “good enough”. Although there have been many successful adoptions of jugaad innovation in India, when it is applied to planning, it has historically had negative effects on urbanisation within Indian cities. Recently, our research director Kevin Stolarick wrote an article for Governance Now, discussing the issues relating to jugaad urbanisation.

The city of Delhi has been growing and urbanising at a fast pace, absorbing many satellite cities into the metropolitan region. Delhi also has the unique distinction of not being a State or Union Territory, but the National Capital Territory of Delhi. While increased density and economic activity has increased in Delhi, which is positive, the type of urbanisation that has been taking place can be seen as jugaad, as infrastructure improvising has taken place due to a lack of resources. This jugaad urbanisation in regards to the built form, infrastructure, and systems in Delhi

An example of jugaad innovation: The top of an electrical pole in Gurgaon

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An example of jugaad innovation: The bottom of the electrical pole in Gurgaon

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usually works for a short period of time, but does not last very well. The article by Dr. Stolarick cites examples of lacking infrastructure that leads to random black outs and poor water and sewage systems. The current infrastructure might not work well, but they are enough to get by at the moment, which is at the heart of jugaad style urbanisation. Many roadways in Delhi have constant gridlock, regardless of the time of day. The main ring road, for example, was quickly widened to increase capacity, but by 2008 the road had already reached its capacity, and it is expected that there will be an increase of another 40,000-90,000 drivers daily within a few years (guardian). This unplanned solution of quickly extending old carriageways to build a ring road is yet another example of how jugaad urbanisation in its nature of quickly addressing a current issue, can negatively impact the future competitiveness of cities like Delhi in the future.

Jugaad urbanisation in Indian cities does have some benefits, as despite certain quick fixes, numerous urban centres in India continue to move forward. To enable a competitive future for major cities in India, as they continue to urbanise, the solutions created to address many of the issues within urban India, must be handled with more than jugaad solutions. The lack of capital combined with governmental constraints has prevented some of the different urban solutions from coming to fruition in Indian cities, but there is great opportunity within the country, and it is important to plan for the extended future instead of reacting day to day.

To read the full article please click the following link.

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The Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto‘s Rotman School of Management is the world’s leading think-tank on the role of sub-national factors — location, place and city-regions — in global economic prosperity. We take an integrated view of prosperity, looking beyond economic measures to include the importance of quality of place and the development of people’s creative potential.