Three takeaway’s from the Session:
1. The need for design as a driver of growth is still grossly misunderstood at institutional level.
Design is not an add-on to functionality but inseparable from functionality. Any thing built for human use, whether a machine or an object, needs design to be simultaneously imbedded with functionality, hence aesthetic and function are completely connected and not sequential. If we are strong in one aspect but weak in the other, picture is incomplete.
2. Govt. has put together a great infrastructure push to make change happen across barriers but good intentions have not yet resulted into on-ground action.
Dr Pitroda’s talk along with the Q & A session, made it clear that Govt. has rolled out an enormous carpet for information infrastructure but its not being fully utilized and virtualization of education, as well as processes is yet to take roots. We are still building brick and mortar institutions at enormous costs while not utilizing the massive scale and flexibility offered by new age of information and technology networks.
3. Nation’s needs for design talent is mostly being fulfilled from ‘imported’ talent and content across all major disciplines.
From auto sector to media to lifestyle and architecture, today India only looks at developed nations for ideas and inspirations, little or none of us look within for inspiration. This has created a redundancy of all things ethnic, traditional and local. Market place is filled with products designed for other cultures and are forced into our system without any or little modifications. This transition to a ‘design’ import tradition will soon render ‘us’ completely dependent on external supply of ideas and content.
Three action items:
1. We need to approach design from a completely fresh perspective, clean slate, bottoms-up, rebuild our nations agenda for its Identity.
I feel it’s a uphill task to break or connect silos build over decades by individual institutions and professionals, instead a completely ‘disruptive’ approach to start from an empty slate would be a faster way to arrive at an appropriate solution. By working beyond the institutional boundaries we would be able to create a more open-ended program and involve a larger global talent pool to contribute.
2. May be a new virtual entity is required for this, and this definitely need not be another brick and mortar institution, but instead a virtual network connecting everyone, thinkers and actioneers across India and world.
Its absolutely needed that we have a cohesive new thought pool to guide our cultural consciousness, something that’s completely connected with our evolutionary needs of ‘today’ and ‘our future’. For ‘us’ to survive in the globalised world we need a strong identity of our own, we need cultural anchorages in our modern environment. In order for India to find an assertive language of expression, of its culture, its future, a new agenda is needed. Agenda that’s made in 21st Cent and can guide us to our future. The agenda that we set for ‘us’ in 1950’s and 60’s has run it’s course, we need a new agenda, not just a new revision!
3. Training our existing human resource for design capabilities is the most urgent requirement.
A vast talent pool is already in the workforce and at leadership positions across India with inadequate exposure to design and its true powers. A national program if well conceived and executed can lead to rapid build up of talent and knowledge. It can equip our young educated population with the strength of design and cultural rootedness. It would enable us to leapfrog into another era, faster than in any other method. All our existing institutions can play a leading role in making this happen. The returns of such initiative would be instant as this talent pool goes to work every day and can start changing things at all levels, leading to a systemic shift. So training through unique programs of learning, both active and passive, through competitions and celebrations, anything to engage the young and working India. If we are able to sensitize this population with the power of design, we can change the tide.