Sundeep Bhutoria

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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Ajab desh, gajab jugaad

On my way to Churu from the Sikar Circuit House it took me nearly three hours to cover a stretch of about 80 kilometres due to heavy fog that reduced visibility to about five or six feet and we could hardly see the other side of the road.
The newspapers reported in the morning that in proper Churu the fog had cleared after 17 hours. I saw an icy layer at the bottom of a gas cylinder in one of the roadside teashops.
Near Fatehpur, there was a road accident and I saw a very different type of improvised car that was damaged. I was surprised when my chauffeur told me that it was a Jugaad car for I had never seen one of this kind before.
Jugaad is a Hindi word that can mean anything from an innovative fix to sometimes pejoratively used for solutions that bend rules, or a resource that can be used as such or a person who can solve a vexatious issue or a fixer. The term Jugaad is now very much a part of the business management vocabulary in the West.
Jugaad cars are locally made motor vehicles used mostly in small villages as a means of low cost transportation in India. Jugaad literally means an arrangement which has to be used because of lack of resources. The Jugaad vehicles are made by carpenters and village mechanics by fitting a diesel engine on a cart or using other means.
The Jugaad garis often use water motor pump of wells, second hand tractor engines, a wood or aluminium handcrafted super structure or body and the steering and brakes of any available vehicle that is available and works.
This improvised Jugaad vehicles are very popular in rural areas of Rajasthan, Haryana and parts of Punjab. These vehicles do not have any registrations and can accommodate at least 12 to 15 persons. It generates enough horsepower to tow a truck and manoeuvre through farms and sandy tracts. It may have four wheels or the three wheelers like the single-purpose `fish bed vehicles' used by the Tamil Nadu fishermen to carry fish.
As these vehicles use only one headlight, the chance of accident, especially during foggy weather, is very high. The Ashok Gehlot government in Rajasthan has banned these cars and the police authorities have been instructed to impound and immediately dismantle such vehicles on sight. But it is a Herculean task for the police who say there are over a lakh of Jugaads on the roads and the number keeps swelling.
ess bee

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