Punjab is the land of the jury-rigged vehicles.
Take the vehicle in the video below. Trailer used for ferrying farm produce are often yoked to tractor in Punjab. But this one is bolted to the engine – a diesel engine used to power groundwater pumps.
This vehicle was being used by a scrap merchant who was going from village to village collecting old fans, pots and other metal detritus. There was another innovation at work here: unlike scrap merchants elsewhere who announce their arrival through their sing-song announcements, this trader was not calling out. Instead, a loudspeaker was announcing his arrival on an audio loop.
Travel around and you see several such vehicles. The folks selling sugarcane juice, for instance, favour steel carts powered by – again – diesel engines. These are especially ingenious. The engine is yoked to both the wheels and the cane crushing unit, which strikingly reduces human labour.
Or take the motorcycle carts. To construct these, the front half of a motorcycle (everything but its rear wheel, more accurately) is welded to the cargo carrying end of a bicycle cart. And the cart's axle is connected to the sprocket which powered the motorcycle's rear wheel.
This is homegrown ingenuity, commonly – and sometimes disparagingly – described as 'jugaad'.
But what these vehicles also highlight is the failure of Indian industry to come up with products relevant to a large section of India's population. A bicycle cart comes for, say, Rs 10,000. And three-wheeled goods carrier comes for about Rs 4 lakh.
There is no product available in that intervening space. Which is what India's barefoot inventors are innovating and patching together.