There are four ingredients that make India a special spot to innovate
The countries most primed for innovation have a mix of factors–including diversity and resource scarcity–that force innovators to come up with the most compelling solutions.
With 1.2 billion people, India is teeming with ideas–and places to try out new innovations in energy, water, banking, and health care. “India is an amazing microcosm,” says Navi Radjou, an innovation and leadership strategist and a Fellow at Judge Business School, University of Cambridge. Radjou and two colleagues have written a book called Jugaad Innovation about the concept of jugaad, a Hindi word meaning an improvised solution born from ingenuity and cleverness.
There are four ingredients that make India a special spot to innovate, and any good innovator mixes aspects from the four components to create something new, says Radjou.
First, there is a severe scarcity of natural resources, and social resources like access to health care. Out of the country’s 1.2 billion inhabitants, 600 million don’t have access to a bank account, and more than 500 million people lack regular electricity.
Then there’s diversity. India boasts 22 languages spoken, with hundreds of different dialects and cultural norms in each part. Why is that important? “A solution that works in one part of India may not work in another part,” says Radjou, explaining that even things like roads are different in different parts of the country. That forces innovators to create flexible, tailored solutions–one size most definitely cannot fit all.
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