Foreign Policy Magazine

The Case Against Frugal Innovation

Jugaad once symbolized India’s potential, but the endless shortcuts are now holding the country back.

WHEN I WAS A CHILD GROWING UP IN KOLKATA, I could count on one hand the different types of cars chugging around the city’s streets. Each of the brands was made in India. In those years, which preceded the country’s 1991 economic reforms, global companies were still cut off from India’s then-nascent, protectionist economy. It was with some wonder, then, that I noticed what looked like a Mercedes-Benz sedan pull up by my school one day. But this was no luxury German car. On closer inspection, the strange vehicle was in fact the most common Indian sedan of the time but with an unusually sleek and elongated hood welded on and painted over to match the rest of the car’s body. As a finishing touch, atop

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

Related Interests

More from Foreign Policy Magazine

Foreign Policy Magazine5 min readPolitics
Puncturing the Myth of Putin’s Genius
IN THE WEST, LIBERALS AND CONSERVATIVES ALIKE seem to agree that Russia has reemerged as a great power with a global reach. And in Russia itself, well-known foreign-policy experts assert that the West had best get used to their country’s resurgence.
Foreign Policy Magazine5 min read
Not One of Us
AS A BRITISH JOURNALIST LIVING ABROAD, I get asked many questions, from the role of the queen to the peculiarities of Parliament. But one theme comes up again and again: poshness. What does it really mean? What’s posh, and what isn’t? Outsiders think
Foreign Policy Magazine6 min read
After Capitalism
THE FUTURE DEPENDS ON A SOCIAL DEMOCRACY THAT DOESN’T RESHAPE CAPITALISM BUT TRANSCENDS IT.