Jugaad Rehris, the Indigenous Motor Automobiles That Are a Toast to Punjabi Innovation

Chandigarh: The Punjab authorities has not too long ago rescinded its earlier order banning the domestically designed and fabricated standard ‘Jugaad Rehri’ autos, powered by all method of various energy packs and fitted with assorted revolutionary attachments which defy all accepted ideas of automotive science and design.

On the directions of chief minister Bhagwant Mann, the police have withdrawn their April 18 order proscribing these weird, however extremely revolutionary unregistered smoke-belching autos, recognized variously as Maruta’s and Gharukka, on the grounds that they had been answerable for a rising variety of street accidents within the state.

By retracting the veto on Rehris, the newly elected CM was responding to stress from opposition events, who claimed that outlawing these autos which ply throughout Punjab, ferrying farm produce, individuals, livestock and even rubbish, would render unemployed hundreds of individuals, principally in rural areas. In his directive, Mann had acknowledged that his authorities’s intention in withdrawing this embargo was to supply employment to individuals, and never snatch it from them.

When it comes right down to jugaad or innovation in transport, there’s little wherever on the planet that matches these Charabanc-like road-runner Rehris that additionally double as rural taxis, regardless of the countrywide explosion in vehicle availability over the previous three a long time. On daily basis, these autos transport not solely lots of of kids to and from college, however cheaply convey scores of individuals packed in tight scrums from outlying villages to close by cities.

Sometimes, in addition they carried drunken revellers to weddings and mourners to funerals in a number of components of Punjab’s Malwa, Majha and Doab areas. And, in some villages, the big wood sides of those autos doubled as blackboards for youngsters receiving instruction in Punjabi and English throughout night courses, additional augmenting the Rehri’s general utility.

In impact, these Rehris had been principally motorised bullock carts, every costing round Rs 50,000-75,000 that first surfaced in Punjab and Haryana within the early Nineties, earlier than spreading thereafter to even Rajasthan and components of western Uttar Pradesh, at a time when the supply of autos was low and expensive. Fully indigenous in content material, from rudder to axle, these Rehris would, doubtlessly pose a mechanical problem to all vehicle engineers, not just for their ingenuity but additionally on account of their sturdiness and multipurpose performance, in what is certainly a champagne toast to Punjabi jugaad.

A ‘jugaad’ car in Rajasthan. Photograph: Rajesh Karkera/Flickr CC BY NC ND 2.0

Primarily, the Rehris had been constructed by becoming domestically accessible 10-14 horsepower diesel pump units, used usually to attract up water from underground wells for irrigation, onto steering wheels of deserted jeeps or vehicles by means of different equally cannibalised components, all of which had been then mounted on lengthy wood, four-wheel trailer-like chassis’.

The juddering pump-set generated the ability that spun a canvas fan belt, which in flip, labored the camshaft connected to the rear wheels, all of which rendered the contraption able to transferring at a dizzying prime pace of some 45 km on pitted village roads and dust tracks with 20-30 individuals, or an equally formidable load of grain, on board.

Most Rehris, lots of which had been colourfully adorned to replicate the native ethos and tradition of their specific area, had no shock absorbers; their pneumatic wheels had been usually strong sufficient to endure bumpy rides over cavernously potholed village and mofussil roads. Over time, the Rehri creators, the vast majority of who had been illiterate and operated from rudimentary workshops, with little or no precision instrumentation or automation, had outfitted them with a 4-speed mixture gearbox – three ahead and one reverse – and radiators, appreciably upgrading their general functionality and street endurance.

However for many, if not all Rehris, brakes had been an issue – and the rationale behind the preliminary ban imposed by Punjab Police, as this grave shortcoming induced disastrous accidents, significantly at railway crossings. Many Rehris had been largely coaxed to a gradual halt, both by switching off the engine or by dexterously disengaging the fan belt in a manoeuvre which, doubtless, could be the envy of completed gymnasts.

The comparatively extra ‘refined’ Rehri fashions, nevertheless, adopted the ‘reverse thrust’ precept employed by jet plane to return to a halt on touchdown, by merely reversing the driving belt that retarded the engine, ultimately bringing the car to a standstill. In some situations, the motive force’s aide, or alternately, one of many passengers, was required to leap off the transferring car and deftly insert a log below the wheels to retard its pace, earlier than bringing it to a cease. This creative ‘brake’ too necessitated athletic dexterity, which many Rehri operators and their assistants developed over time.

The diesel engine of a Jugaad Rehri. Photograph: Abhijit Bhaduri/Flickr CC BY 2.0

However the Rehri’s utility and folksy appeal didn’t finish merely with transportation.

Off-road, their energy packs had been put to make use of to function tube-wells, fodder chopping machines and home equipment to extract sugar cane juice to make gur and shakkar. “The Rehris had been a necessary a part of rural Punjab,” mentioned Surit Singh of Manuke village in Jagraon district close to Ludhiana. Their socio-economic significance was simple, he added, as they weren’t solely cheap to construct and economical to run, however had the endurance of a phuladi ghora or ‘iron horse’.

In the meantime, in some components of Punjab, just like the border district of Tarn Taran, close to Amritsar, the Rehris had been supplemented by yet one more jugaad machine, domestically dubbed the Bhoond (Wasp). This was a motorcycle-powered go-cart with three wheels, able to transporting 8-10 individuals or alternately, an equal load of grain or merchandise. Priced at round Rs 70,000, its specifically designed physique with two wheels was connected to a bike – normally a clapped-out and refurbished two-stroke 150 cc bike – with a specifically designed chain that mysteriously operated the contraption.

Complementing the Bhoond, in different areas, was the smaller and cheaper eponymously named ‘Hero Panther’ motorised go-cart, pulled by a 60 cc domestically made moped, which gave the machine its moniker. “It’s economical and splendid for my necessities,” mentioned one vegetable vendor in Jagraon, who each day carted a great deal of as much as 100 kg on one such Panther go-cart, from the native wholesale market.

And whereas equally exceptional improvements do exist in different components of the world, the components perpetuating the recognition of Rehris and its clones, was the supply of rural workshops manned by sensible, albeit unlettered mechanics, with really superb fabrication and jugaad expertise, a Punjab authorities official admitted. It’s astonishing how a lot jugaad expertise there’s in Punjab and elsewhere throughout India, he mentioned, including that it must be put to good use.

A jugaad car in China. Photograph: shankar s./Flickr CC BY 2.0

In flip, this evoked the apocryphal account in Punjab’s Rehri mechanic circles about former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asking US President George W. Bush, on his maiden go to to India in March 2006, whether or not he had any particular requests that he wished to be fulfilled throughout his journey. Bush, because the model in Punjab goes, in all seriousness responded by requesting Singh that he very a lot wished to fulfill Mr Jugaad, about who he had heard a lot in his pre-visit briefings in Washington and who, he was instructed, was the prime driver behind India’s revolutionary aptitude, which the US president wished to duplicate again residence.

Maybe, Singh ought to, in all impish innocence, have organised a gathering between Bush and a Rehri fabricator from Punjab, passing him off as Mr Jugaad.

It might actually have been instructive for the POTUS.

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