Session on 4 New Design Schools CII-NID Summit 2011

4 NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF DESIGN (NID)/
INDIAN INSTITUTE OF DESIGN(IID)

The 11th CII‐NID Design Summit took place on the 8th & 9th of Dec in New Delhi. The Government of India, in the National Design Policy document has envisaged setting up of four Design Institutes ‘on the lines of NID’ across India, in Jorhat, Hyderabad, Bhopal and Haryana. The last concluding session on the second day of the Summit addressed the establishment of these 4 National/Indian Institutes of Design.

While considering these proposals, one of the observations has been that of setting up such institutions on PPP basis. However, for various reasons, the concept could not be taken forward for want of adequate interest from private partnerships. Besides, promoting design among the varied industrial sectors in India still need to be continued to be perceived as a developmental activity. The Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion, had asked India Design Council to hold a meeting with all the stakeholders for setting up the proposed new Design Institutes. The session was supposed to be a participative discussion involving all attendees of the Design Summit as important stakeholders, to get their feedback /suggestions /observations on the proposed model and action plan for setting up of four Design Institutes and Design Centers in other reputed campuses.

On request of Mr Sam Pitroda, Chairman, National Innovation Council, a group from the Netherlands, presented, in collaboration with Indian stakeholders, INDEED (Indian Design Education) which was a roadmap to further state‐of‐theart design schools and design competencies in India.

Mr DV Prasad, Joint Secretary, DIPP, along with Mr Pradyumna Vyas, Director, NID and member secretary of India Design Council, were to present the key areas where inputs were to be sought and together outline the process of discussion. The key recommendations were to be forwarded to the ministry for further consideration and action plan. Unfortunately, both Mr DV Prasad and Mr Pradyumna Vyas were not present. Instead, all attendees of the Design Summit as important stakeholders were invited to share their views on the proposed Action Agenda for the setting up of four Design Institutes.

The issues addressed were: Vertical Parameter
MODELS TO BE FOLLOWED 

Financial Issues

Administrative Issues
Academic Issues

Horizontal Parameter
PROCESS TO BE FOLLOWED
People Involved
System / Process Deployed

Amit Gulati

STATE FUNDED LONG TERM AUTONOMY

Design is too important in terms of its critical nature to the growth of the country; to the development of the economy the way it is now evolving, which is a non liner evolution and not the traditional format where there were large industries, small industries, services and so on… it is all interconnected now. To create an institution of national importance needs national involvement and national funding in the long run. It is quite clear that the Financial and Administrative model needs to be based on a state funded autonomous model. In that sense the existing NID is a good example ‐ it has been there for the last few decades and the only flaw there is that it has not been scalable to the extent it should have been. So an Administrative Model that facilitates scalability, which has funding for the long term through state intervention, is critical. Autonomy is very important in terms of the Administrative Model.

STAKEHOLDERS AS PART OF THE CONSULTATIVE PROCESS

The process that one needs to get into to set this whole proposal in motion, is something that that a team of NID graduates and professionals been involved in the last few months, and what was felt was that the nature of design education is often not fully aligned to the kind of professional existence these trained professionals find and we find that product designers working in the domain of spaces; we find architects working in the domain of products ‐ quite cross linked and multifunctional. And design education really needs to respond to this multifunctional nature that we will have to be grappling with. Traditional designs in the form of silos between product design, animation design, ceramic design, which has been very deterministic, is perhaps not the best model. The new model needs to be open ended and ready to absorb this cross‐linked existence that we find in our professional lives. To facilitate that, building professional stakeholders as part of the consultative process is very crucial. So people from NID, people from other design schools in India, who have been practicing in India and overseas in the last few decades and who have built an inventory of thinking in terms of how education should be configured… these are the kind of people who should be brought on board for the consultative process. The other part needs to be the industry, which uses design ‐ and that again is an evolving sort of creature because traditionally, in the last two to three decades, design was not really on the radar screen. But thanks to the initiatives of CII and others who have been involved and over the last ten years, it has become a very big force ‐ and a force for good. Industry is an important stakeholder ‐ Industry, which pays for design and which incubates design studios within its own structure. What are they really expecting from trained design professionals? This is the second aspect that needs to be built into the process. The third is to engage with the management schools, the engineering schools and other technical schools that contribute to design thinking. The undercurrent is multidisciplinary; so people who work with designers from a pedagogic perspective, from a professional perspective ‐ all need to be important stakeholders. Clearly, the focus should be on what the nature of design in India is going to be ‐ from process delivery, service delivery, and product delivery perspective.

In response to Amit Gulati’s proposal of a State Funded Autonomous Model, it was pointed out that the kind of target that the Indian government has put to double the gross enrollment ratio from 12% to 30% by 2020 for overall higher education. This is a huge task and it has been well spelt by the government that without the help of the private investments, this target is unachievable. As design education is part of higher education, it may not be possible to achieve the target based only on state funding. Perhaps, the possibility of a PPP needs to be looked into.

Jatin Bhatt

STATE FUNDED LONG TERM AUTONOMY Contrary to the response to Amit Gulati’s proposal of a State Funded Autonomous Model, this model does exit ‐ as it does in the IITs. Designers have always been talking about the fact that if science, technology and engineering are so critical to the government and it continues to commit …. IITs have not even thought about PPP. So why is it for design, we recognize its importance, especially after a two day summit on the importance of design innovation in nation building, why is it that everyone has jumped to a conclusion that the government does not have the money for it. There is a strange contradiction here where design is rudely undermined in terms of value. The same value which was talked about during the two day summit… but is somehow lost when it is most needed. This is also the reason why four Design Institutes need to have models, which need to be state funded.

FINANCIAL DIMENSION: COMMITMENT TO LONG TERM VALUE

When talking about funds and finances, the challenge is not in raising funds. It is the objective with which the funding comes and that is what concerns the future of an institution. If a partner is found willing to fund the running or operational cost or even the initial investment, what is the expectation? This is the very critical dimension, which will shape the institution because when the interested funding partner/organisation is identified or interested, the fact to be borne in mind is that it has to be done with the purpose of committing to a very important dimension of education that this country needs in terms of long term value. Looking at the creative industry, design does have a huge potential, and that there are examples from Netherlands and UK who have built hugely on creative economy and design certainly forms a very substantive part of that ‐ and that is one aspect of finance.

ADMINISTRATIVE DIMENSION: CONTINUOUS RESPONSE TO DYNAMIC REALITIES

As far as the administrative model is concerned, it does require a huge amount of autonomy regardless of what institution it is going to be. It does need professional leadership; it does need huge amount of consultative structures, which are built in for an institution to find a direction continuously and respond to dynamic realities.

ACADEMIC DIMENSION: FLEXIBLE ENOUGH TO REINVENT ITSELF

As far as the academics is concerned, the silos do not necessarily manifest in the manner that the preconceived as far as realities are concerned. This is the approach that needs to be reviewed in design education. Degrees are important because once we say degree; the Master and PhD follow as part of the story. Nobody can deny the fact that Design Research is an important dimension in terms of knowledge creation and is also something that has not been strictly and seriously recognized in the country and certainly has a huge value. Degrees also help in a certain comfort zone in terms of aligning to other schools in India and abroad for higher studies. This model seems fine and there should not be any complication in terms of awarding a degree except ‐ degree vis‐a‐vis the kind of approach to learning, is something that needs to be addressed. In India, the moment there is talk of degree, there are certain controlling bodies, which accredit the degree and that comes along with certain riders. For example, NIFT, managed to get recognition through the parliament and offers degrees right up to masters and PhDs. Nevertheless, that model needs to be worked out in a manner that is flexible enough to reinvent itself all the time at various levels and its existence.

PROCESS CANNOT BE RUSHED

Although the Summit was a good platform to start a dialogue or interaction ‐ it is not necessarily a sufficient one. Because of the kind of issues that has been thrown at the audience, is not something that can be delivered in an hour or so. We might then just be paying lip service to something, which is otherwise a very serious issue. Vision First, had suggested to the government vis‐a‐vis the 4 NIDs, that a structure needed to be created first, that allows for long term dialogue, to bring in views and allows people to consolidate where design ought to be going and therefore design education ought to be addressing. This somehow has not been happening; we are repeating the same questions, which cannot be answered in such a short period of time. The same story is being repeated. Answers are demanded for something as significant as setting up of four design schools, in a very short time, which needs to be seriously reviewed. Without that, we just may be helping our lot to drive a brief, which has already possibly set up,…and that is not something which we would want in the country.

TWO IMPORTANT QUESTIONS / ISSUES TO BE DEFINED

  1. Is It Possible To Propose A Structure Through Which We Actually Go Through The Process?
  2. And Who Would Be Part Of That Process?
In response to Jatin Bhatt’s comment on Funding/Financial Partner, ie the
private sector investment issues, CII has also faced a problem. From CII’s point of
view, where they don’t see a real mechanism on return on investments from the
private sector… Therefore that’s an issue that needs to be dealt with differently;
across the higher education sector. CII has been working on some innovative
models of higher education investments as Corporate University ‐ Indian
investors, Indian companies, Indian corporates, investing in higher education
with global partnership of institutions across the globe. Models like Innovation
University, using technology and private investments; Government building the
gateway and private sector building the content; and many other models that are
are being discussed. Private sector investment is not necessarily 50‐50 nor 90‐
10, it is the involvement which is more important.
 Anil Mathur, COO, Godrej Interio
There are several private design schools in the country; however, the NID, IDC, IIT etc are more
favored both among students and the industries. Today, these institutes have become brands and
like any brand, they bring in brand promise. When a new institute starts, it needs to prove itself
through the number of students graduating and their performance. Both potential students and
the industry would be ‘in a fix’ as they would be taking a risk. The student wonders if it would be
worthwhile to join the institute and frets about whether they would get a job after graduating.
 The industry speculates about the graduates’ performance and a ‘wait and watch’ situation is
created.
 Why do students not want to join a new institute?
Because they may not get jobs
Why are industries not recruiting?
 Because they are not sure of the quality of graduates from new the institute.
 Perhaps the NID, could become a university and all the private institutes could join to become
part of it and where the curriculum and structure is defined. This may help attract talent to join
the institutes and the industries would have the confidence that the graduates from these
institutes would have the requisite skills.
 To illustrate with an analogy, long ago, Bombay University had only one institute for
management, Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies (JBIMS). Later on other institutes
joined and followed the same structure and today most of management institute like Narsee
Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS University), Welingkar Institute of
Management (We School), Symbiosis Institute of Business Management (SIBM) are all recognized
by the industry. Similarly, either NID becomes a university by itself or Indian Design Council and
CII bring in a university and NID and IDC could share that platform. If all would come under one
university and all could share experiences, infrastructure and most importantly, faculty as there
is an acute shortage of faculty in India. There would be cross‐pollination taking place, which
could attract private investments coming in.
 It is a tough task…but if there has to be a design movement, the pioneers like NID should sacrifice
and become a university and take a larger segment under their umbrella and take it forward.
 In response to Mr Anil Mathur’s comment on single university, the main issue of
concern for the industry is that of quality. CII is also worried about their member
companies’ concern, in terms of quality of human resource that they are
recruiting from the university system, not just the design discipline but most of
the disciplines. There are some reforms, which are in place and which Minister
Kapil Sibal has wanted to bring in, but unfortunately, because of the parliament
not working, things have not moved. Accreditation bill is a powerful bill that is
supposed to have been passed... not necessarily for design school, or any other
discipline. For example, all institutions under registered UGC… need to go
through Professional Accreditation System.
 Sudarshan Khanna
WE TALK OF INNOVATION; AND WE DO EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE!
What does innovation mean? Innovation means that you do not know everything… it means
that you know only half ‐ and you do not know the other half. Yet we are not willing to apply
that. Innovation means that one is willing to take a risk… a reasonable risk. And yet we are
shy of taking that risk. Having been part of NID almost since its inception, the observation
made was that there is a need to have a clear intention and a clear idea and a space provided
for it to grow, to develop without people who dictate and order. There will always be the
people who are concerned and who need to be identified and who are the right people for the
specific situation. These are the people with the mission to take the institutions to the next
level, which would evolve through constant debate with stakeholders and benefit emerging of
the unknown. This is what design is; because if design was already ‘preknown’, ‘precasted’ or
preplanned’, then it is not design.
 ANALOGY FOR AN IDEA
First, one needs a father to father an idea, then one needs a mother to mother the idea and
then one needs parenting for the idea. All three are equally important. This stage for the 4
new design schools is the fathering of an idea stage, irrespective of who the mother is.
NID was probably one of the first institutions to partner state with private. However the
partnership was not based on money; it was based on a mission. Gautam Sarabhai, the first
chairman, was admired by all the young faculty then, for spending long hours at the institute,
as he was an extremely busy man running an empire. He involved himself in the discussion of
the minutest detail. He became an inspiration for all at the institute. The money was not the
primary concern and even today institutions cannot be based only on finance.
 INNOVATION IS THE SOLUTION
Unfortunately, Innovation has become like a catchword… almost like a slogan. So far it has
been figured out that there is a need for al least four new design institutes in India, which
should be different from the existing NID. The model of a successful institute, parenting and
partnering with a private enterprise is a good one. Even though it might give rise to several
problems initially, it would eventually get absolved as part of the process. The four new
design schools should be perceived as four platforms for experimentations and evolution.
That is how even the existing NID started.
 FOUR UNIQUE DESIGN INSTITUTES
The whole world has moved on from the old idea of ‘design for what’ and ‘design for whom’.
But we still have not. Design cannot only be for business and industry; it has to also be for
society… for a larger issue. One cannot experiment with an idea in a preplanned situation.
Instead a structure should be provided with an autonomy (without which nothing would
work) and if the right people are identified, the intention is to identify the model, the
procedure etc.
 It would be a pity to clone four design schools not only of the existing NID but also of each
other. The four institutions should each have different approaches and be unique. Indians talk
and take pride in their diverse cultures, varied traditions, rich heritage and uniqueness of
being Indian. But which institutions reflect that… be it the IITs, IIMs, the Design Schools… all
follow some model or the other. That is not the idea ‐ the idea is to create research centers of
a genuine kind with the intention of letting it grow and letting it flower An identity should
eventually emerge with checks and balances (but definitely not prescription of what should
be done what should not be done)
 In response to Sudarshan Khanna’s comment on cloning of institutions, it was
pointed out that it made sense at the time it was established. But it was agreed
that in the current scenario and keeping the future scenario in mind, cloning,
perhaps might not be the way to go.
 Suresh Sethi
NEW DESIGN SCHOOLS SHOULD START SMALL
There is no reason to start a design school with large buildings and they shouldn’t have
infrastructural problems. There should be very small schools and so the idea of 30 acres of
land is meaningless in the new models of the schools. The Gandhian model of ‘Talim’ should
be followed and teach from the very basics, depending on the regions from where the schools
start. The schools should be creative hubs, research hubs, which bring together design
thinkers, not just from India but from all over the world.
 Today, education has become a machine, more precisely a money making machine. The
example of the Laureate Inc which has partnering with maybe hundred schools with half a
million students worldwide. They bought Domus Academy & NABA last year and Pearl
Academy of Fashion from India. There are institutions in India, which charge almost 10 lakhs
as fees. School of Art, Design and Media of Nanyang Technological University, Singapore was
built in a year with 40 million dollars and the fee is equivalent to the fees in the USA. It was
state funded…but this cannot be the model to follow.
 KEY QUESTIONS
What is the vision for the 4 new design schools?
Who would be teaching in these schools?
 Indrani De Parker
REFLECTING ON THE FUTURE OF DESIGN EDUCATION IN 21ST CENTURY SUSTAINABLE
INDIA
What is the paradigm shift in design education for the future of design in sustainable India
and what aspects need to be rooted and nurtured in fundamentals or foundation of design
education?
 This in‐progress research is an attempt to establish a need for a paradigm shift in design
education and scope aspects that need to be rooted and nurtured in the Fundamentals of
Design Education appropriate in the 21st century Indian scenario. Design Fundamentals or
Basic Design, as it was referred to in early design education has come a long way since its
origins at Bauhaus and its further evolution at Ulm.
 In the nascent period of industrial design, the work was primarily focused on physical
products. Today, however, designers need to work on complex issues. 21st century design
education needs to be able to design and develop strategies for all and not just look at ‘Good
Form’. There is a visible shift from client‐driven projects towards a more reflective ‘Issue
Based’ design education that strives for more socially inclusive, locally/glocally/globally
relevant solutions ‐ from ‘Human Centric Design’ to ‘Life Centric Design’
 There are no universal design solutions available that can address the unique problems of the
Indian people such as healthcare, rural and urban sanitation, quality education at the primary
and secondary levels, transportation, rural housing, agricultural support, safe water and many
other sectors of the Indian economy that provide opportunities for design intervention. These
will have to be addressed locally and design thinking is the new method for identifying
problems. It is becoming very important in design education to include political, social,
economic and ecological discourses in a collaborative, inter/multidisciplinary way thus
enabling a conceptual understanding of ‘intangibles’ like values, social responsibilities,
empathy, humility and local/global relevance and perhaps then participate actively towards
nation building.
 The research attempts to establish the current need for a paradigm shift in design education
for the future of design in India and its translation of aspects that need to be rooted and
nurtured in fundamentals or foundation of design education.
 Mr Anjan Das shared a thought at this juncture on behalf of CII. He said that the
planning process is one component… and then comes the execution… and there
is a mega exercise every five years, making five‐year plans, which starts as soon
as the previous five‐year plan ends. There is always a day for implementation. A
vision is important so are opinions, considerations and decisions… but one has to
start somewhere….
 B Bhaumik, Sr Vice President, Head Product Dev, Mahindra & Mahindra
CROSS FUNCTIONAL IS THE KEY
The administrative model has to be autonomous and perhaps under the ministry of
education. Because of the cross‐functional expertise and inputs required in design, perhaps a
model like Shantiniketan… under the PMO.
 The academic model definitely has to have a vision. A governing council consisting of eminent
professionals…the key being cross functional because design has to be multidisciplinary and
cross functional. The governing council must have practicing professionals, academicians, exstudents
etc and they would create curriculum. The institute should offer right up to PhD level
and not offer diploma as it impedes career aspirations for the students.
 The financial model should be participatory… between government and private because,
taking the scale of investment, they could meet halfway. The government can contribute
towards the land, building, etc and infrastructure, equipment etc can be brought by the
industry. In terms of running the establishment, it should be self‐financing model with a
vision if it wants to avoid power struggle.
 The most important aspect of the process of setting up the institute, is to recruit a team of full
time people. People from IDC and CII will bring in only advisory inputs but execution would
require full time empowered people with clear roles, responsibilities and authorities and they
should be mandated in terms of what, who and when.
 Niladri Mukherjee
CLEAR ARTICULATION OF THE VISION
First and foremost, the vision has to be clearly articulated. The problem that seems to be in
the process is how does one get to the articulation of the vision. Perhaps, a structure of the
basic team who will articulate the vision first as a full time activity, as this requires a full time
committed team.
 There are however some very basic questions:
WHY NID?
WHY FOUR?
 These questions may not get answers but it makes perfect sense to clearly articulate the
vision, within a certain time (three month or six month, or however long it takes) Decide the
composition of the team that is going to sit together and create a mandate and a clearly
articulated paper and then the financial, administrative and academic issues can be put into
place for a wider body to evaluate and take forward.
 This ended the session on sharing views of attendees of the Design Summit on
the proposed Action Agenda for the setting up of four Design Institutes. As all
unanimously agreed that this was not sufficient to discuss an issue of such
importance, to take this forward in a structured way a request was made for
everyone to send their thoughts and further inputs in the next seven days, to CII
who would in turn compile all of it and submit to the authority.
 The next session was conducted by the representatives of INDEED: New
Perspectives for Indian Design Education, a joint Indian‐Dutch proposal. In his
introduction, Mr Theo Groothuizen mentioned that the embassy of The
Netherlands was approached by Mr Sam Pitroda, Chairman, National Innovation
Council, about six months ago to help India think about the future of Design
Education in India and set up Design Education models. A plan was proposed in
collaboration with Indian stakeholders (after many discussions between Dutch
and Indian experience), and it was called INDEED (INdian DEsign EDucation)
which was a roadmap to further state‐of‐the‐art design schools and design
competencies in India. Dr Prabhu Kandachar made a presentation on INDEED
and a soft copy of the report was distributed among the interested.
 In conclusion, Jatin Bhat shared the sentiments of the design community across
the country:
 While it is good that there has been partnering, synergizing of the community
and delivering the project of INDEED and while it is said that there has been
consultation, many feel that there has to be qualitatively it has to be different in
order to really bring about something of substance ‐ the thought processes from
experiences and people. Unless that is done, an evening together, a few hours
together, would mean very little. This engement needs to be more serious and
the Indian design community is interested and would be more than happy to
come forward provided a platform is created which is qualitatively different and
which allow people to seriously ‘concentratedly’ share their views. This will
really help this initiative.
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One comment

  1. Shocking to see that both DIPP representative and the Director NID chose not to attend this session important session on design education. It shows how much they care for inputs from the profession and academic experts who had assembled at the CII-NID Design Summit in New Delhi this year.

    Minister of Railways visited NID last week and showed rare interest in supporting design and drawing on the capability of the design establishment in India, particularly from NID. A lot will depend on the response from the NID Administration and the future of design action will depend on how these opportunities are addressed. The work required by the Railways is indeed huge and I am sure that they could easily support a whole new NID just to address all the design needs of just the rail transport sector. Similarly the Ministries dealing with Agriculture, Education, Urban Development. Rural Development could easily support one new Institute to address their core areas of innovation and human resource development needs. While design is a generalist capability we need to think of sector specific design opportunities a well as the creation of people capable to work in each of these domains at a high degree of competence.

    We need to initiate a series of brainstorming session that could draw up a list of design opportunities in all these sectors and pass these along to the parliamentarians for their perusal and action in bringing innovation to each of these identified design opportunities in India today.

    Prof M P Ranjan
    author of http://www.designforindia.com
    2 January 2012

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