Ahmedabad Mirror on ‘Vision First’ – Pravin Mishra

Ahmedabad Mirror dated 21 Feb. 2011 ( Read original article here )

Redesign India with new vision

Design is a powerful force that can change society and needs to be handled as such


Pravin Mishra

Posted On Monday, February 21, 2011 at 03:03:58 AM

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh laid the foundation stone for a new National Institute of Design campus in Jorhat, Assam on February 19. This will be the second institute of its kind in India, after NID Ahmedabad, now in its 50th year of existence.

Vision needs to be co-created through participation of stakeholders of the design profession that takes into account contemporary India’s dreams and realities

Interestingly, this happened two days before the 21st February submission deadline of the tenders inviting consultants for financial, academic, and administration models for the development of four new NIDs. The Centre set up this idea under its Commerce and Industry Ministry. Since then, design educators and thinkers have been in debate over mail groups and social networks.

In the centre of the debate is the qualifying requirement for the issue of Request for Proposal. It states that the firm or individual(s) should have been in business for the last 10 years, provided financial consulting, architectural concept, or design and engineering, provided detailed project reports for a minimum of 2 projects, dealt with a capital outlay of over Rs 250 crore, and have annual revenue of more than Rs 10 crore. The requirements alone make the stakeholders wonder about who will submit proposals — most likely a large civil engineering firm.

To understand the issue, let’s term the physical infrastructure to set up an institute as ‘hardware’ and the vision, curriculum, administrative structure and financial model as the ‘software’. So here the software design is being tendered out to hardware experts. Also, making the infrastructure before the vision is like putting the cart before the horse. This defies the very basic principal of design — ‘form follows function’. Here the function seems to be following the form.

In 1958, a blueprint for NID was created by American designers Charles and Ray Eames, through a process of discussion with experts and academics. In the last 50 years, India has moved from a brick-and-mortar economy to one based on knowledge and information. The arrival of computers, internet and wireless technology has significantly changed our lifestyles. The country deserves institutions which can serve India in the future and not a half-baked rehash of what was done half a century ago.

Prof M P Ranjan says, “My heart is heavy due to our constant ‘Shooting ourselves on the foot syndrome’ and this is another case of such mindless action. Design is a powerful force that can change society and needs to be handled as such.”

Uday Dandavate of SonicRim feels that the vision needs to be co-created, through participation of past and present stakeholders of the design profession that takes into account contemporary India’s dreams and realities. We need local and global perspectives, optimism, and skepticism needs to be mined. “A powerful vision can reside on any building, but not the other way round,” says Rashmi Korjan.

IITs and IIMs multiplied itself, but NID remained largely a one-campus affair for 50 years. India has attracted the attention of the world as a destination for partnering for innovation. “It’s unfortunate that we don’t have political visionaries like Pt Jawaharlal Nehru today,” says Sagarmoy Paul. “It is possible that designers collaborate in order to start world-class design education for the new realities in India. There is a huge demand to fulfill. We need vision first — rest will follow.”

A proposal on co-creating a vision for expanding design competencies in the country has been sent to Sam Pitroda, an advisor to the PM by a core group of designers. It states that the Indian design community is excited about the development but cautioned that it will be a lost opportunity if we follow a predetermined route and end up replicating expired, limited and ineffective models of design. Pitroda expressed his resonance with the heartbeat of the design community. He also expressed his vision to set up innovation clusters in different parts of India.

“Design has the skills to stand by people to enable them to actualise their own destinies. But this calls for a radical re-imagination of design, design schools and designer,” says Jogi Panghaal.

“India is a complex place, there is no ‘one’ India. The India at the bottom of the heap is nothing like the India of sophisticated markets. The four new schools of design being envisaged must be open to new ideas, must be experimental in nature, must be different to one another and must be trusting of all sections of society,” sums up Deepankar Bhattacharya.

Designer, teacher, painter, film-maker. Pravin Mishra also writes graffiti, slogans, scripts and essays

Read original article here


About korjan

Partner, Studio Korjan & Independent Design Educator. Believes that complex problems could have design solutions.

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