Sunday, July 15, 2007

Global Warming and Design Concerns in India

While reflecting on a question, by Shimolee Nahar a young graduate product designer from NID and a member on the designIndia list, I made these suggestions for research and action in India. One question that came to my mind was – What are Indian designers doing today which is interesting and useful for the long term happiness of our planet? It would be good to have these documented and brought into sharp focus in all our design schools and also to see it percolating into the consciousness of all our professionals as a viable and exciting entrepreneurial option to a lucrative desk job within industry.

Global warming is now a popular fad. I had seen the Time magazine cover story on Global Warming as well as "What can we do about it" story that was included in that issue. You can see the story now online at the following links.
Time Magazine cover story
An interactive slide show and a link to the Time Magazine
“What you can do" story at their website.

Also recommended is Al Gore's documentary film, "An Inconvenient Truth", on Global Warming and the YouTube commentaries that follow it in a lighter vein.

India Today magazine, which is delivered to my home every week, too followed up with a me-too story in the weeks that followed, but unfortunately their website is a subscriber only site, they still seem to be living in a Web 1.0 mindset with a closed access regime, I wonder when they will change.!! and adopt a Web 2.0 mindset.....of open access, interactive and user driven content....I hope soon.
India Today
You can access the full story if you have a subscriber number from the cover of their mailing envelope.

Yes, each of us needs to ask the question, "What can we do?" and as a group of designers the topic is of great relevance. The world is changing and the – DesignIndia forum – and platforms like this one can be used to share what we are doing in our individual and professional capacities and it may be good to have this all documented and shared with the policy makers in India as well as with each other. This will bring a mind-set change which we do need if we are to succeed in our efforts in the days ahead.

For instance Dinesh Sharma, an industrial design graduate from NID, is working as design consultant to an enterprise called “Furaat Rainwater Conservation” and he has created his patented design and technology for offering both new as well as retrofitted rainwater harvesting systems for homes and organisations in Ahmedabad which not many people that I met are aware of just now. Calls are already coming in for this application from Tamilnadu and Karnataka which are currently battling over the Cauvery water sharing dispute and I am sure that more will follow as the value that it provides seeps into our collective consciousness. You can see the work of Furaat at their website link on the left hand panel here.
Furaat Rainwater Conservation

There is the wonderfully insightful and significant initiative from Poonam Bir Kasturi in Bangalore and it is now expanding to Chennai through her "Daily Dump" domestic organic waste management system which can be seen at this link here.

You too can act now and get the – Daily Dump – installed in your own home as a demonstration and test proving site.

Nominated for the Index Award in 2007 it is already a wonderful achievement but we will await the results and progress of its adoption with great interest in the days ahead. The – Index website story – says, I Quote:
“Daily Dump – compost at home (India) Designed by Poonam Bir Kasturi.
Challenge: 70% of waste generated in urban homes in India is wet organic waste, which before was collected and composted. However, after having discovered that public-sector waste disposal service does not sort the waste, citizens have lost confidence in using it.
Solution: With the home composting product Daily Dump, organic waste can be managed at source. In addition, the design drawings, methods and processes will be available on the Internet, enabling local micro-enterprises to flourish and families to recycle their organic waste.”

We do look forward to this design contribution from India getting global recognition that it deserves, great going Poonam.
Daily Dump on Index Awards
See also this World Changing link here.

I too have been working on these issues spread over the years along with a large team of design students and faculty colleagues at NID on bamboo as a sustainable material for the future as well as using bamboo as an avenue for equitable employment opportunities in rural India through our work at the Centre for Bamboo Initiatives at NID. You can see some of the work documented at my website under the following links:
• Beyond Grassroots: BCDI links
• Katlamara Chalo links
• Bamboo Initiatives links
• Bamboo Boards & Beyond links
all accessible from my website link on the panel on the left: Prof Ranjan’s Homepage

The initiative that Mala and Pradeep Sinha have taken to experiment, design and build a sustainable water and energy conservation system at their high quality textile hand print and dye facility and design studio in Baroda comes to my mind, unfortunately, they do not have a full website link that I can share with you just now. However their studio, Bodhi can be seen at this link below:
Bodhi, Baroda

There are many many more that we do not know about since the design media is unfortunately only interested in glamour and glitz, it seems. We need to change that.

On these forums (DesignIndia list, Design with India, and Design for India, and others) we can help document all such initiatives and these could be showcased at the forthcoming CII-NID Design Summit 2007 so that some awareness and follow-up action can be catalysed in India using the design thinking that has gone into each of these cases. What do you think? Anyone who knows of any interesting and significant action in India or even small local initiatives of the use of design for such development and conservation intentions do send them in and I offer to collate all these into a collected research and share it with the interested people in the weeks ahead. If these are papers and web links that need to be explored these too can sent to me directly.

It is indeed time that we collaborate as a design community on this task and make a joint submission to government and industry so that the funds required for sustained research and exploration in such social and ecological sectors can be initiated and sustained. Others interested can join us in this effort. What do you think? This is just one of the 230 sectors in which much work needs to be done, and the time is now, particularly at a time when the Government has come forward and set up a National Design Policy and we must help in giving shape to the actions and value that can unfold from this progressive move.

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