Tuesday, March 31, 2009

National Design Policy: India Design Council (IDC) formed

National Design Policy: India Design Council (IDC) formed

The Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP), Government of India, has released an extrodinary notification that is soon to be published in The Gazette of India about the constitution of an India Design Council (IDC) in pursuance of the National Design Policy announced by the Government of India on 8th February 2007. This particular Central Government notification is dated 2 March 2009.

Prof. M P Ranjan

Image01: Composite image of two models created by design students at NID while exploring the concept of sustainability across two key areas of design opportunity as part of the Design Concepts and Concerns course at the Institute. The two areas represented here are “Roti” – Food and “Rojgaar” – Occupations, both critical needs of our people that are to be served by design action and imagination.

We hope that the agenda of the newly constituted Indian Design Council will eventually expand to include and then address these critical development issues along with the list of major activities listed in the notification reported below. We also hope that the members of this Council will bring greater awareness to these critical design issues and improve the use of design by the various sectors of our economy, particularly in the development sectors where it is needed as a critical input and not just promote the use of design as a handmaiden for organized industry to generate profits and contribute inadvertently to global warming. Perhaps as we go forward we can hope to see a greater representation from the design profession and design academia in India on this Council as well as a vigorous participation of democratic representatives of numerous Associations of Design Professionals from various fields which is glaring by their absence from such a Council. Indian design professionals and academics need to get their act together and work towards contributing to the initiatives taken by the Government through the Design Policy initiatives.

The members of the India Design Council (IDC) as constituted are as follows:

1. Anand G. Mahindra of Mahendra & Mahindra Ltd., President

2. Eminent persons from various fields related to design industry

1. Akhil Succena, National Institute of Design - Member
2. Ritu Kumar, Fashion Retailer - Member
3. William N. Bissell, Traditional Indian Design - Member
4. Dr. Naushad Forbes, Technology-Design Specialist - Member
5. Mahesh K, Design Incubation - Member
6. Ganesh N. Prabhu, Management/Design - Member
7. Ajay Chowdhry, IT Design - Member
8. Rouble Nagi, RN Studios, Artist & Muralist - Member

3. Representatives from Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP)

1. Additional Secretary & Financial Advisor (AS&FA), DIPP - Member
2. one Member (not below the rank of Joint Secretary) to be nominated

4. One Member each from Department of Commerce, Higher Education, Informationm Technology and Ministry of Textiles

(Officers not below the rank of Joint Secretaries) - to be nominated

5. One Member each from each of the three apex industry organizations

1. Sr. Representative as nominated by President ASSOCHEM - Member
2. Sr. Representative as nominated by Director General CII - Member
3. Sr. Representative as nominated by President FICCI - Member

6. Heads of two design institutes in the private sector or Hedad of Departments of Design education in Universities, IIT’s etc,

1. Ravi Pooviah, Head, IDC, IIT, Mumbai - Member
2. Prof. Ranjit Mitra, Director, School of Planning &
Architecture, New Delhi - Member

7. Eminent designers

1. Satish Gokhale, Design Directions, Pune (Product Design) Member
2. Bidyabijay Bhowmik, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd.,
(Automobile & Engineering) - Member
3. Jagdish Hinduja, Gokaldas Images Ltd., Bangalore
(Design for Exports) - Member
4. Rina Dhaka, New Delhi (Fashion Designer) - Member
5. Sarabajeet Singh, Fab Interiors, New Delhi
(Interior Design) - Member

8. (Heads of all Design Institutes set up by the DIPP)

Director, National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad - Member-Secretary

According to the notification this Council would have a tenure of three years besides other rules as notified for its routine functioning.

The major activities of the India Design Council are listed in the notification as follows:

• undertake design awareness and effectiveness programmes both within India and abroad.
• act as a platform for interaction with all stakeholders.
• undertake R&D and strategy and impact studies.
• accredit design institutions.
• develop and standardize design syllabi, etc. for all institutions in India imparting education.
• conduct programmes for continuous evaluation and development of new design strategies.
• develop and implement quality systems through designs for enhancing country’s international competitiveness.
• coordinate with Government to facilitate simplification of procedures and system for registration of new designs
• assist industries and design–led exports of Indian products and services including outsourcing its design capabilities by other countries.
• take effective steps towards “cradle to grave environment-friendly approach” for designs produced in India so that they have global acceptance as ‘sustainable designs’.
• enable Indian designers in India to have access to global trends and market intelligence and technology for product development and innovation.
• encourage close cooperation between academia and industry to produce proprietary design know-how while encouraging creation of new design-led enterprises for wealth creation and
• encourage and facilitate a culture for creating and protecting intellectual property in the area of designs.

This notification is issued by N. N. Prasad, Joint Secretary, DIPP, Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

Prof. M P Ranjan


  1. Thanks for this insightful update Ranjan. Agreed -- it seems to need bolstering to effectively engage wider avenues for design (as the British Design Council has been doing> Would be so great to see some of the realms explored in your Design Concepts and Concerns course represented on the council.

    I also wonder whether the activity to "encourage and facilitate a culture for creating and protecting intellectual property in the area of designs" ignores applications of design which are best served by more open-source leaning frameworks.

  2. Its a good concept. Interplay is logical and makes sense. Would it really take off? Ground work-who would be doing it? Bodies like CII just talks do seminars n earn money and deliver set of papers..nothing else.

  3. An active discussion took place on the DesignIndia@yahoogroups.com list that was based on this post. I am qiuoting below my response to the active discussions there for the benefit of the blog readers here. The design community in India is responding to these bits of news and that is a good sign for the future.

    I quote my post on the DesignIndia list here below:

    Dear DesignIndia list members

    A longish post with arguments and suggestions with my fingers crossed.....

    We have had a stimulating discussion so far on this particular thread ever since Sagarmoy Paul posted a note on the newly constituted India Design Council and commented on the, I quote
    "....the lopsided representation of professional
    designers. It is very textiles/fashion design heavy and there is complete
    absence of representation of communication/graphic design (amongst others)."
    end quote and he drew reference from my blog post with the full list of members in the newly constituted India Design Council (IDC) that was charged with the responsibility to take the National Design Policy forward in India over the next three years.
    National Design Policy: India Design Council (IDC) formed

    Kaustav SenGupta commented and bemoaned that "only two fashion designers" were on the Council and that NIFT was missing in the institutional representation.

    Mayur Karnik drew our attention to the "13 bullet points" in the IDC charter to see if these could be expanded to get the government to act on our behalf.

    Prof Sudha Nadkarni raised the bar and said "design is not fashion".... in his first emotional outburst.

    Kaustav SenGupta argued that "design is not fashion. fashion is a part of life...and yes fashion needs design" and in saying so justified the membership of the (new - upstart?) IDC.

    Anand Jha came back with a defence of Prof Nadkarni by calling for respect to experience and wisdom therefrom, I quote, "......they bring with their opinion a lifetime of quest to establish a design ecosystem here and also an understanding of what failed and what should have been done."

    Prof Kumar Vyas came back with his rejoinder with an eloquent exposition that quoted at length from his forthcoming book in an attempt to place fashion in the context of 'Design the International Movement: With Indian Parallel', which is the title of his forthcoming book. However here fashion is characterised as a cause for deep concern, I quote " .... These are conspicuous consumption and planned obsolescence. Consider these two against the emergent world scenario of gradual depletion of natural resources and the need to ensure a sustainable ecology, and one begins to wonder about the relevance of the present practices related to fashion." end quote.

    Prof Nadkarni then tried to help us to understand difference between design and fashion when he quoted Giu Bonsiepe and the Ulm philosophy which he said was "to make a difference between design as intelligent problem solving and styling."

    Kedar Prabhavalkar threw the book at us by providing a link to the "Style vs Design", an article by Jeffrey Zeldman where the key take away is, I quote.

    "Not enough designers are working in that vast middle ground between eye candy and usability where most of the web must be built."

    Dinesh Katre sits neatly on the fence and acts the devils advocate.
    "Design is inseperably both problem solving and styling together." .... and he goes on to say "So it is a tight rope walk to be creative and to be not perceived as insane!"

    However the more critical contribution comes in here, and I quote "What are design ethics? It is left open to interpretation. If one stays conservative, abiding by the social norms, ends up in mediocracy in design. One ends up hurting the established norms and ethics on a creative rebellious path."

    He bemoans the entry of politics into design. But, design is politics, as Tomas Maldonado said in his great book from 1970, "Design, Nature, Revolution" one year after the Ulm school of design was shut down and he moved to Milan to start afresh with the Politechnico di Milano. Maldonado was Gui Bonsiepe's mentor at Ulm, if you want an authority to accept an argument.

    Kaustav SenGupta came back with a big bang and a long and impassioned argument to put the theory and practice of fashion in context and educated us at length about the term "Fashion" and its role in human lives.

    Siddharth Dash brought us back to earth with his question ".. whether fashion design is facing the same problems as other design disciplines or is it different?"

    The key question that this debate raises is 'is the composition of the IDC in line with the task ahead? and if not what may be possible in the near term and who will do this?

    We need to address this issue here and the DesignIndia forum is a powerful body that has the attention of 1730 professional and academic design members that the IDC cannot afford to ignore if we are able to place a coherent argument at their table in their first meeting itself. The babus in Delhi will have to pay heed to this list and other bodies of designers if we are talking sense and we are willing to stake our claim for their attention.

    The list of bullet points that Mayur Karnik pointed out is not a complete agenda for design ijn India. It is very limited in my view but it is a starting point and we can expand it from there, This is a political action and it calls for collective action of drawing up many lists of design opportunitues across as many as 230 sectors of our economy and placing them in a manageable list which can be seen and felt and most importantly understood by the politicians on the ground who will need to mobilise action on the ground. This is what Tomas Maldonado talks about in his book. Prof Frei Otto too understood the need for a clear articulation of the intentions and research questions of an emergent profession and in his case he made strong case for research into lightweight architecture and he then spent a lifetime doing the Tasks that he and his team had outlined in his book IL20 "TASKS", which is a massive list of all types of research that was needed to make the field of lightweight architecture a part of the mainstream.

    Can this list help build an agenda for the several schools of design that will be built at Bhopal, Guwahati, Kohima, – North, South, East, West and Centre - and all the schools that need to be built to address the needs of the various sectors of the economy or will be bash on and try and replicate NID, IDC (the old and respected IDC), or some other new concoction that we are able to pull of from the web or overseas through twining programmes and MOU's with international schools since we are short of ideas ourselves?

    We need to address these issues seriously here and I do hope that this thread leads us to the light at the end of this tunnel. Remember India spends 60,000 crores on science and technology using tax payers money while design attracts just a micro fraction each year, in my estimate about 100 crores at the most. Fashion and textile sectors get a much larger share of tax money through the more responsive Ministries in each case, the DST< HRD and Textiles while Design is under the DIPP and the vision is blurred by that location an fails to look at the needs in rural development, health sector and a host of other sectors that are ignored by the 13 bullet points that Mayur Karnik pointed out for us.

    De we have an alternate list to offer. NO! Do we have a developed list like Frei Otto had fro his field? NO! Can we do something about this together and can we try to help government and industry understand what design really is? Do we know ourselves?

    I am reading and re-reading some old texts about design and find much wisdom that was hurled out of the window when the IT revolution took us by storm. The tools have changed but the core values of the profession have not. Can we define these core values and base our further work on that ethic? Perhaps that is a way forward. I have read some very stimulating discussions about what design is in the work of John Heskett in his books "Toothpics and Logos" (recommended for all design teachers), and his "Design: A very brief introduction" (available from Oxford Press in India) and the new edition (2002) of "What is Design: Things, Places, Messages" by Norman Potter, great clarity about design and what it is indeed and what it is not. Another great reference is very current is "The Design Way" by Harold Nelson. Some of you may have met him when he came to Pune in December for the cancelled Design Summit. We did meet him at NID and it did bring a new and fresh perspective on design as it is today.

    I do look forward to your comments and to the way forward from here.

    With warm regards

    M P Ranjan
    from my iMac at home on the NID campus
    9 April 2009 at 12.45 am IST


    Prof M P Ranjan
    Faculty of Design
    Head, Centre for Bamboo Initiatives at NID (CFBI-NID)
    Chairman, GeoVisualisation Task Group (DST, Govt. of India) (2006-2008)
    National Institute of Design
    Ahmedabad 380 007 India

    Tel: (off) 91 79 26623692 ext 1090
    Tel: (res) 91 79 26610054
    Fax: 91 79 26605242

    email: ranjanmp@nid.edu
    web site: http://homepage.mac.com/ranjanmp
    web domain: http://www.ranjanmp.in
    blog: design-for-india.blogspot.com
    education blog: design-concepts-and-concerns.blogspot.com
    education blog: visible-information-india.blogspot.com


    I look forward to some reactions and responses to my post on DesignIndia.

    M P Ranjan
    from my office at NID
    9 April 2009 at 4.15 pm IST

  4. Kindly Change Name. IDC already exists..

  5. I think the discussion 'is Fashion design?' is redundant, as design is a horizontal enabler, not a vertical industry. Horizontal as in it enables across all industries. Fashion uses design, but it also uses manufacturing and styling .... architecture uses design, but it also uses engineering and building. Design should never be considered in sole context.


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