You can download Purna and Himadri’s report here


“Jugaad is such an essential part of the informal repair network and it is ubiquitous in the Indian context. Jugaad, or fixing, addresses local problems and solves them with locally available material sometimes by salvaging parts, using locally developed technology and skills. This is circular economy. But is it recognized as such?”



Synthesizing their experiences conducting Repair Cafes, Purna and Himadri, describe India’s longstanding, informal repair economy and repairers roles as economically powerful, impacting the natural environment on a global scale, and bearing significant social stigma. These co-authors ask and lead the reader to ask: Why isn’t the practice of Jugaad recognized as part of the “Circular Economy”? What Western biases are erasing long-standing cultural practices at the center of the Circular Economy? Why isn’t Jugaad seen as part of the lineage of the Circular Economy movement? What forms of power are held by India’s informal repair networks? How are India’s informal repair networks exercising power on the formal manufacturing economy? 

Key Insights

  • Repair can be understood in many ways and its understanding and associations vary by culture. In India, repair is understood in the following ways:
    • Repair is thought of as an action done in private rather than in public
    • Repair has a social stigma; it is not desirable to tinker in public
    • Repairers are typically the most socioeconomically disadvantaged in society, and there is a competitive market for repair work
  • In India, there is a strong link of repair workers to marginalized or minority communities and castes. At the same time, their creativity, frugality, national economic impact, and criticality in discussion of international electronic waste and climate change are all evidence of their power. “Specifically, Repair networks which are part of the informal sector, are not controlled by corporations but on the contrary, they thrive on them.”
    • A response to a glut of spare parts
    • Allowing for a wide range of cost options for customers
  • FIX:
    • Salvaging parts from old products
    • Jugaad – “fix” in Hindi, grassroots innovations that help solve local problems with locally available and many-a-time using salvaged parts
Preferred citation: Das, Himadri. Sarkar, Purna. (2022, January 19). FRUGAL CULTURE MEETS INFORMAL REPAIR ECONOMY IN AN INDIAN CITY: ‘A PERFECT MATCH!'. The Maintainers. https://themaintainers.org/frugal-culture/