Saturday, October 18, 2008

Mission and Vision: Craft Ecology for IICD Jaipur

Mission and Vision: Craft Ecology for IICD Jaipur

Prof M P Ranjan, NID, Ahmedabad (18 October 2008) Based on note prepared for the Governing Council at the IICD, Jaipur.

Image: Models proposed in the IICD Feasibility Report (download pdf file 386 kb) to capture the tasks, objectives and processes through which these would be carried out.

The Indian Institute of Crafts and Design (IICD) was set up in 1993 based on a Feasibility Report written by the NID, Ahmedabad. The Government of Rajasthan had placed its support for the creation of the IICD in Jaipur because of its promise to bring together three core capabilities of Design , Management and Technology for the development of the Crafts sectors of India. This is the first and only Institute that is mandated to develop knowledge resources and the “Agents of Change” who could make this happen in the field. The Institute has taken time to establish its foundations at the new campus in Jaipur and over the past ten years a credible education programme in crafts design has been established and the students of these programmes are showing their impact in various fields across the crafts sector. Now it is time to take stock and review directions as well as the changes in the macro-economic environment in India as well as across the Globe.

Indian crafts is facing its most critical test of survival due to the massive change that is happening in the National infrastructure leading to huge displacements of population and loss of traditional occupations and unrelenting urbanization development. The focus today is still people as it was when the Institute was established and being a small organization in relation to the huge size and reach of the crafts sector in India the appropriate strategy would be to continue to build high quality catalysts who can act as the transformers in a growing circle of influence through research, design and direct field action.

The Institute will need to expand its focus to include integrated services and know how across various areas of need that are faced by the crafts clusters in India and offer a single window of interface enabled through the “agents of change” who are the main products of the Institute. In addition to design and innovation the services that these agents should offer would now need to encompass social empowerment and confidence measures that would come from an understanding of business processes, finance and management literacy and access to real markets that can produce value to selected groups of crafts entrepreneurs who would form the second leg of the tripod offering. The Institute, in partnership with its main products the “change agents” will engage with numerous crafts entrepreneurs in the field to form an ecosystem of people and processes that would bring stability and creative renewal at all the centres that the Institute chooses to engage with, usually at the invitation of the various stakeholders involved.

Therefore rather than looking at the students as completed products at the end of their education at IICD we would need to innovate community building systems using web based networking and rapid research feedback to create a living meta organisation of collaborators and a growing knowledge base. The institute will quickly need to initiate a direct contact programme with the crafts entrepreneurs drawn from numerous crafts clusters and through a formal programme instill in them the confidence and the abilities to work with the trained designers and technical experts who are the growing number of IICD graduates from its major education programmes.

This new programme will have synergies with the main education programmes and the ripple of impact will grow with each batch of crafts entrepreneurs who return to their major clusters along with new ideas and an integrated set of tools to transform his or her landscape in his cluster while generating value for self and the community. They cannot act independently in the initial stages of their return to their clusters and it is here that we need to partner with development agencies such as the DC(Handicrafts) DC (Handlooms) and the Ministry of Rural Development at the State and Central Government level besides a host of NGO’s and Crafts based industries active in that particular region besides National and International philanthropic systems for support and sustanance. This ecosystem development approach should be refined with the building of working prototypes and in this way a small institute in Jaipur can make a huge impact in the transformation of vast sectors of our crafts based economy which is still a living resource across India today.

We would need to review policies of faculty engagement and introduce liberal approaches to attract and hold high quality professionals from a number of fields including design, management and technology. The Institute must encourage individual and team based research and adopt web based methods of dissemination to help support a widely dispersed user base who would be the growing stakeholders of the Institutes offering. This effort would need to be an integrated region development initiative rather than just an effort to help a sustainable development model across diverse crafts activities all of which would require new knowledge and creative resolution to achieve both ecological as well as socio-economic sustainability models in each of these locations in an ever growing circle of influence.
Staying small and flexible on the one hand and with a big reach on the other hand through the use of web based technologies and networks of field based collaborators for communication and research dissemination would be at the core of vision and drive the mission of the Institute going forward, particularly in the next ten years.

Prof M P Ranjan,

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