Update: Meeting of 14 January 2012 at Yojana Bhavan – Amit Gulati

Dear All,

Below is my brief update on the proceedings at Yojana Bhavan on Saturday and the expectations from the participants / follow up action:

>The meeting was chaired by SP who introduced a few ppt slides showcasing the vision to co-locate the national innovation centers at IITs, Liberal Arts Universities and other existing institutes of national importance so as to create a multidisciplinary ecosystem and avoid duplication of infrastructure. Electronic sharing of resources, case studies and lectures through the newly set up NKN (National Knowledge Network) where over 13000 + colleges/ research inst.s internationally will be linked up through a high bandwidth network was proposed as the backbone of this framework. He emphasized that the autonomy of these centers would be ensured. He expressed his frustration that the issue of new NIDs and the innovation ecosystem has been discussed for several years, ad infinitum with no concrete action on the ground and that this session was to kick-start actual execution. He highlighted that the several reports on the subject (incl. INDEED) were often stating the obvious, preaching to the converted and not really addressing the need for a tangible action plan appropriate to the Indian situation.

>The participants included members of the planning commission (Dr. Narendra Jadhav), Mr. R Gopalakrishnan (Member Secy. National Innovation Council), representatives from IDC (Prof Uday Athvankar, Prof BK Chakaravarti), NID (M. Kroviddi), MS Univ. Baroda, HRD Ministry, DIPP (Prasad), IISC, IIT Kanpur , Theo from the Embassy of the Netherlands, Prof. Hebbar from Manipal Academy (who are thinking of a design school as well), Md. Javed from Idiom, Aditya Dev Sood, and a few others (Rashmi could write to SPs office to get formal MOM and list of participants with their contact details so that VF ADI can engage on a broader platform as well)

>DIPP (Prasad) mentioned that a new NID Act is being taken up as an Act of Parliament with approx. 550 Crores being allocated for Design Education in the 12th Plan – The synergy between these new NIDs and the innovation centers was not clearly spelt out, however, everyone was conscious of the huge need for trained faculty. Some of the participants raised the issue of duplication and used the example of the proposed Jorhat NID which could be very easily integrated with the design school already functioning at IIT Gawhati. DIPP mentioned that it would be tough to modify the launch at this stage as the PM had already inaugurated the campus.

>I, on behalf of VF and ADI echoed the points in Uday’s mail and also raised the issues of: _Faculty Development/ need-gap
_Appropriate teaching forms and relevance of large campus oriented education
_Introducing design thinking, aesthetic consciousness and problem-solving processes into school education from an early age to help create a design literate generation
_Create strong incentives for industry to use design more widely
_Engage with NID Graduates / Design Professionals in India in the creation of these institutes / innovation hubs and use our experience / mentoring for curriculum design, faculty development and format evolution

It seemed to me that many of the issues raised by VF are now well entrenched;
we were referred to specifically by SP and others on several occasions during the interaction…the impact is clearly visible now. All the points raised by us were very well received and set the tone for many of the subsequent discussions

>Some of the other important points that came up during the interactive debates were:
_Making design education more user centric with a focus on prototyping solutions in partnership with stakeholders
_To achieve scale through location-agnostic and IT Network driven models…move from Infrastructure to ‘Infostructure’
_Get IITs and other national institutes out of their existing silos into a more cross linked and open education structure to foster innovation (The Profs. from IIT Kanpur were the ones who voiced this most passionately and cited many recent examples from their campus)
_Customise the approach and design / innovation methodology to suit the specific needs of different sectors such as Healthcare infrastructure & delivery, Agriculture, Art & Craft etc.
_Benchmark with S. Korea and China where 100s of design schools are already churning out millions of graduates…Create a unique India-centric educational model for design that can deliver Innovation/ Patents and meet our nation’s development goals

NEXT STEPS
SP urged the participants of the session to network beyond and form “20 teams with 20 proposals” for design education / design schools / innovation centers and come back for another working group on the 27th of Jan at 3 PM with the following:

>An approx. 1000 word white-paper with the following clearly spelt-out:
_overall philosophy/ vision and pedagogic model
_proposed location/colocation / approx. size / space required / no. of students
_ecosystem
_scalability plan
_funding model / how the Govt. can chip in
_A 3-4 slide ppt summarizing the above (and avoiding well known facts on why design is important, etc….this is a given as far as SP and the Planning Commission is concerned!…This would be shared with the group and discussed during the follow-up session)
SP’s idea is to get 20 schools / centers off the ground in 12 months using the above …he’s fine with some ideas failing or evolving once they get started…his idea is to see some actual outcome of all these years of discussion. He intends to showcase the workable proposals / reports to a cabinet session specially convened for the purpose and get the various ministries to work together, fund the ideas and make it happen

>SPs office and HRD ministry representatives have specifically requested VF to help compile examples of how design thinking has been successfully deployed in school curriculula, especially in the UK …They would like us to engage with NCERT in the process of textbook design and take this idea into execution at the earliest

MY SUGGESTIONS
>VF members (individually or in groups) should put together at least 4 to 5 alternate proposals /’white-papers’ in response to SPs open invitation and ‘walk-our-talk’ forcefully – We should also try and be present in strong numbers for the next session…SPs office will provide air tickets.

>Another small working group could put together a reference booklet on design in school education…both as a stand alone subject and demonstrate how design thinking can fortify other subjects such as science, geometry, social studies etc. Examples from design council databases, experiments at Riverside , etc. could be compiled

>ADI can broad base the effort by launching a one week design school visioning challenge and can compile the more solid ideas into a couple of concept notes

This is an opportunity to take our work to the next level and look forward to your enthusiastic response – Let’s share a few mails on the construct and identify lead members from VF/ ADI to front this—you can, of course, count me in,

Cheers, AMit..

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About korjan

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

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