The word juggernaut describe something that seems unstoppable, powerful, dominant. Online retailer Amazon is a juggernaut. Tennis player Rafael Nadal is a juggernaut on Clay Courts. Marvel Comics even has a supervillain named Juggernaut that possess infinite strength and invincibility.

“Juggernaut” is the product of the collision between two forces, an encounter between two worlds: the English-speaking West and India.It is the Anglicized name for the Hindu god Jagannath, the “Lord of the Universe.”

Jagannath, a form of the god Vishnu, presides over a massive temple in Puri, India alongside his brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra. The most famous ritual at the Puri temple is the Rath Yatra. During the Rath Yatra the wooden forms of the gods are ceremonially placed on large towering carts, or chariots, and pulled through the streets of Puri by devotees.

“Juggernaut” entered the English language in the early nineteenth century as colonial Britons in India encountered Jagannath and his chariot and tried to make sense of what they were seeing.

In the West, business innovation is often the preserve of well-funded, in-house R&D (research and development) departments, sometimes working within corporate hierarchies that threaten to slow or stifle innovation altogether. In simple words, innovation is a juggernaut notion.

That’s emphatically not how innovation happens in India, China and emerging economies.Frugality is not a buzzword here, but a bitter reality. Here juggernaut problems are fought using jugaad innovations.

In the groundbreaking 2012 book, Jugaad Innovation, Cambridge Judge Business School’s Professor Jaideep Prabhu (co-authored with consultant Navi Radjou and media strategist Dr Simone Ahuja) documents this alternative approach to innovation.

Jugaad is not a new invention but a process innovation to accomplish task under excruciating circumstances. It often applies ingenuity and design thinking practices to reconstruct products and redesign services. It creates new business models, and it can be applied to produce scalable operations and sustainable business practices.

As professor Prabhu says, Frugal, flexible, inclusive. These are the qualities, and the Indian word jugaad is the concept we borrowed to try and capture them: the art of overcoming harsh conditions by flexible innovation.”

Thanks to Professor Prahbu’s work, jugaad is being adopted by leading organisations around the globe. BRAC is the largest non-governmental development organisation in the world. Founded in Bangladesh in 1972, today it is active in countries such as Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Haiti. Andrew Jenkins, of BRAC’s Research and Evaluation Department, says that the organisation “has benefited very much from the ideas and experience of Professor Prabhu and his jugaad innovation.”

On the other side of the planet, we have associate professor Manu prakash from Stanford University, an IIT Alumus, who is pioneering his frugal innovations on inventing cheap bio-engineering equipments ranging from $1 microscope to $100 Scanning Electron Microscope.

It will take years more for the full impact of wider application to become apparent which entirely lies in the documenting and spreading the word about jugaad innovation, for other people to apply.

Only time will tell how jugaad is used to fight against Juggernaut problems.


1) The origins of the Juggernaut by Michael J. Altman August 2nd 2017

2) Wildly frugal, Manu Prakash’s dream is science tools for everyone, everywhere By Kris Newby, Stanford Medicine,Spring 2017

3) Jugaad Innovation A Frugal And Flexible Approach To Innovation For The 21st Century by Navi Radjou Jaideep Prabuh, Jan 1, 2015

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