Yesterday, 18 March 2011, five persons from the Vision First group that was formed after discussions here on the DesignIndia list made a presentation to the DIPP at the Udhyog Bhavan and shared our concerns with their team of four officers that was headed by Jt Secretary V Bhaskar. The Jt Secretary claimed that their process was transparant and in line with government policy for us such projects. the Vision first team consisted of Rashmi Korjan, Amit Krishn Gulati, Jatin Bhatt, Pradeep Sinha and M P Ranjan. We requested the DIPP to consider our plea for “Vision First” and to allow us to make a parallel exercise with the support from the DIPP so that this new vision could be presented for wider discussion and this window may be open if we are able to impress upon the DIPP sufficiently about the scope and need for this activity. However the team left the DIPP office without a firm agreement but we can still write to the DIPP and ask for a review of their decision.
In the afternoon a larger group of 17 designers, design thinkers and design academics met at Habitat Centre in the amphitheatre at a very informal setting near the Eatopia and then at 3.30 pm with Sam Pitroda and his team at the Yojana Bhavan and explored how design and innovation could be brought to all government initiatives in the years ahead. The meeting was very positive and the Planning Commisiion and other Government agencies will be approached in the days ahead by the Vision First activity that is at the forefront of over 1200 designers and concerned activists on the social networks and I am sure that we are all willing to help government use design and innovation at all regional and local activities across a large number of sectors for which strategies would be worked out in the days ahead.For this to happen we need a very active participation on this list and just as the team came together in Delhi yesterday we can work at various local initiatives and map out action strategies that all of us can contribute in during the roll out of this agenda over the next days and weeks ahead.
Those who were at the two meetings in Delhi as well as at the Habitat Centre meet may please post their impressions of the meetings on DesignIndia forum and share these with a wider community and use the pictures that were shared earlier in the day as you think fit to post on blogs, Facebook and elsewhere and in any other way since these are copyright free. It is important that we share our thoughts and impressions with all to get a flow of ideas from the wider community to our Vision First initiative in the days ahead.
My own take away from yesterday is that we can and need to move far beyond the agenda of four NID’s which seems to be a way to harvest NID brand value of 50 years for the setting up of four new NID’s. Jt Secretary V Bhaskar told us that Government did not have any money for design and this was the only way forward. While I do not agree with his stand this may be the way they see it themselves and we will need to work together to change this impression. Unfortunately the Government and DIPP have not made an assessment of the real brand value of NID and they may be selling our crown jewels to private parties without a proper assessment or thought about this angle unless it is another scam in the making.
This is particularly important since just last month we have learned that Pearl Academy has been sold to Laureate International University for a fantastic sum of Rs. 500 crores for just over 50 percent of the holding of the original promoter. Does Government and DIPP know the real valuation of the NID and is this factored into the DIPP PPP offering as part of their current initiative? I am not sure they have made this valuation into their parameter for selection of the offers from prospective agencies. Secondly NID is a government institute with a development agenda for over 50 years. BY making it a PPP organisation will the profit motive overtake the development focus, I do fear this change of direction. Your collective views on this situation is very critical here if the NID brand is not given away at a song by those who do not value it at all.
We were told by V Bhaskar Jt Sectretary DIPP that Government did not have money for setting up and spending on design education and the PPP was the only way forward. I asked him how Government found money for science and technology but not for design? I alos asked him why the criteria for writing the draft document for the new NID’s managed to exclude all NID graduates and alumni by the manner in which the criteria was drafted. This needs to be debated and the value of design contributions in India is undervalued in my view and the contributions of NID and other designers are not taken into consideration at all. . We need to work together and the government needs our contribution to put design into as many as 230 sectors of our economy and it will be a long journey to change mindsets in government especially at the DIPP that handles, or should I say mis-handles NID!!
It was a pleasure meeting all our colleagues on Vision First intiative in Delhi. and I look forward to hearing from all of you too on this situation and the way froward from here.