Mr. Salman Haidar,
NID Governing Council
Dear Mr Haidar
Thank you for your interest in the issues and concerns that we have raised
related to expansion of the design education infrastructure in the country and the related RFP process that is currently under way.
Vision First is an initiative which began as a spirited debate on forums and
social networks online among the design community as a response to the
DIPP’s announcement of a ”Request for Proposal for providing comprehensive consultancy for finalisation of the model for setting up National Institutes of Design at Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Haryana,”
Subsequently we have come together as a group to facilitate the articulation of a Vision to create a perspective on creating design competencies in India and maybe, elsewhere. The idea is to tap the collective wisdom of the vibrant design community and other stakeholders of design in the country and cocreate a vision for further actions – whether it is the setting up of new institutions or taking design to those areas where it has never been before. We are, all of us graduates from the National Institute of Design, practicing for between 15 to 30 years. Over these years we have witnessed the growth and development of the profession and have been engaging with local realities to leverage design to bring about qualitative change.
We believe that we are presently poised at a juncture where we have a great
opportunity to redefine the future of Design Education in India, and to distribute design widely as a force in the service of the nation. Unless we pause the ongoing process, and review it in this light we believe the opportunity will be lost.
The significant concerns that we have are as follows:
· Serious thought and an exhaustive process of consultations need to be
put into evaluating and articulating emerging directions in design
education to ensure a more robust and relevant framework for
expanding the design education infrastructure in the country, prior to
building infrastructure for the same.
· Government funds could be more appropriately utilized by rightsizing
the envisaged institutes and broad-basing design consciousness
from primary school to professional education.
· There is an urgent need to invest in human resources (especially
teachers) trained to deal with new design paradigms.
· The PPP process as outlined in the RFP may lead to teaming up with
agencies who may leverage the valuable NID brand created over the
last 50 years for short-term ends. This will not be in the best
interests of the profession or the nation. A serious evaluation of the
NID brand needs to be undertaken prior to leveraging it to raise funds in the manner proposed.
· The funding model needs to be formulated in a manner that does not
compromise the integrity and long-term approach essential to good
design, and must reinforce rather than erode the public role of such
· The stringent financial criteria applied on the potential bidders exclude
most NID graduates and other practicing design professionals, who
could potentially contribute a relevant vision and real world
orientation to the process.
· It will be a disservice to the nation if we do not create an appropriately
scaled design-education infrastructure that is contemporary, globally
connected and richly informed by the local context.
We hope the spirit of the Vision First initiative will inspire NID to reflect on its role and review its own objectives, structure, practices, curriculum, programmes etc. in consonance with new developments in the country and the world and in the domain of design itself.
We had approached Sam Pitroda with our concerns. He has been associated
with many institutes of design as an adviser and supports the idea of bringing design thinking to influence public policy and nation building.
On his recommendation, we met with Mr V Bhaskar, joint secretary DIPP on
18th March 2011, to discuss these issues. We were given to understand that the RFP process will continue as planned and that the draft proposal of the selected party will be shared in the public domain for discussion prior to finalization. Also, that DIPP will be soliciting the views of the design community during a day long seminar that is intended to be held later.
However as outlined above, we continue to have the same concerns. The
Vision First initiative will continue our campaign to build public opinion through social media, and other platforms. We would also like to continue to help the DIPP, and Mr Sam Pitroda to realize our ultimate goal of defining a vision for the design education infrastructure for India.
In the same spirit we would be happy to meet with you to present our point of view and to discuss these issues further.
Amit Krishn Gulati
Poonam Bir Kasturi