SANTOSH OSTWAL, husband and father of two, lost his apartment in 2001 after quitting his job in Pune to solve an engineering problem he’d been thinking about for twenty years. Today his solution – a mobile-phone adaptation that triggers irrigation pumps remotely – is saving water in India and helping more than 10,000 farmers avoid several taxing, dangerous long walks a day. I talked to Mr Santosh for a podcast earlier this year, but it’s worth digging back into the transcript now to help explain the Indian concept of jugaad, an inspired kind of duct-taped ingenuity that employs only the tools at hand.
…He started with a $2 alarm clock. The farmer set a time, and the sound of the alarm fed into an interface that signaled the coil of the pump’s starter. It was a user-friendly technique, but the alarm could be set only once; the farmer still had to walk to his fields to switch the pump off. Mr Ostwal would scooter to the fields himself at midnight and take out his multi-meter and oscilloscope, and he began to win the farmers over.