THE role of science and technology in India’s development and the advances that have helped the nation grow in the face of constraints form the subject of the book. From independence, the country emphasized the role of science in development, Nehru himself describing the first major industries as “temples of modern India”. Dinesh C Sharma, veteran journalist and science commentator, writes about the innovations that have helped the country forward, focusing on changes in technology, IT or digital solutions that have helped transform governance , business, popular movements, agriculture, fashion and law, among others.
The author says that Indian innovation is different from jugaad, a term that has achieved some respectability due to the Western perspective, where management gurus use the term to describe frugal and local innovations in the Indian context. It is a quick fix, a short term solution to overcome system or product inefficiencies or infrastructure deficiencies. This can have adverse consequences for the user, with some jugaad even being illegal. Sharma says anyone familiar with the socio-cultural context of jugaad would know that it is not about innovation but about depicting a mindset that favors crude improvisation, which is not always safe or sustainable. . The jugaad is said to have originated in Punjab in the 1960s, where farmers assembled a contraption by attaching a pump motor with scrapped auto parts and a four-wheeled cart to transport agricultural produce and people on short distances. Peter rehras and Gharukas are commonplace in the state’s hinterlands.
jugaad-based solutions show what we are missing in user-centric design, manufacturing, supply chain, and processes. Its portrayal in popular culture has normalized it, while management pundits have embraced it, much to the chagrin of frugal or grassroots innovators whose works are also dubbed jugaad.
The author also says that innovation is not only related to technology. In the Indian context, it covers technological innovations, scientific solutions, new ideas in business and industry, innovative government policies and programs, local innovations, laws and regulations designed to serve a single purpose, new institution-building methods, grassroots movements and practices.
Given the considerable progress made in the years since independence, it was difficult to classify the innovations and the criteria used are broadly their disruptive character, the turning points or the decisive character of innovations in various fields, the new ideas which have triggered a trend or had a lasting impact. impact on society.
The book’s chapters have been organized by theme, with the first devoted to innovations that have been essential to advances in food production and communications. The effort has been to treat each innovation as a self-contained narrative providing the context, origin and essential characteristics of that innovation, as well as its diffusion, impact and the key people behind it.
The author quotes Walter Isaacson to emphasize that there are no revolutions in science and technology, only evolutions. India’s journey is about landmarks, changes and adjustments that have helped make innovations that have not only impacted life but also brought about a qualitative change in it. From the Nutan stove to save kerosene to the “chota refill”, from the green revolution to the white revolution, from the Maruti-800 to the EVM, from the revolutionary progress to the manufacture of vaccines to the mohalla clinics, from the cyclone warning to Jan Dhan Yojana and Nehru jacket at IPL, modern Indian history is full of examples of dedication and thoughtfulness on the feet to overcome obstacles. The book lists 100 such innovations encompassing different fields and is an absorbing read.