Monday, March 26, 2012

Lessons from NID History: A Lecture at Ranikhet

I am posting on the blog after a long period of absence and introspection. I was invited by the Torrent Group in Ahmedabad to make a presentation on organisational sustainability based on my reading of major events and key highlights from the NID history of the past 50 years at a conclave for their senior managers at Ranikhet. The text below is the thumbnail outline for my lecture and it sums up my readings from the events that I have listed. The visual presentation titled "Lessons from NID History: Reflections on Institution Building for India" can be downloaded from this link below:

Download visual presentation as 12 mb pdf file Lessons from NID History: Reflections on Institution Building for India
Download text of the summary as 80 kb pdf file Timeline & Lessons from NID History: Key Highlights and Insights
Download Full Text of Lecture at Ranikhet as a 120 kb pdf file Full Text_Lessons from NID History

Timeline & Lessons from NID History: Key Highlights and Insights

M P Ranjan
Design Thinker and
Author of blog –

Chairman of The Governing Councils at NID
1. Gautam Sarabhai - Oct 1961 to Feb 1974
2. Pupul Jayakar – March 1974 to June 1978
3. B G Verghese – July 1978 to June 1981
4. Shrenik K Lalbhai – July 1981 to June 1984
5. Prof. Yash Pal – July 1984 to June 1990
6. H Y Sharada Prasad – July 1991 to July 1994
7. Hasmukh Shah – August 1994 to June 2005
8. Ajai Dua (IAS) – January 2006 to February 2007
9. Salman Haider – March 2007 to January 2012
10. Anand Mahindra – January 2012 to date

The Inception: 1955 to 1961
* MOMA exhibit for SSI travels to India
* Pupul Jayakar meets Charles Eames
* Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru invites Charles and Ray Eames
* The India Report by the Eameses
* Ford Foundation and Rockfeller Foundation support
* Memorandum of Association
* Society Registration
* Establishment of NID

The Formative Years: 1961 to 1970
* Gautam Sarabhai and Gira Sarabhai as leaders
* Established at Sanskar Kendra
* Management structure: Governing Council and Internal Management/ Executive Board
* Early Faculty: Dashrath Patel / H Kumar Vyas / P B Bhagawat / R K Bannerjee / W M Date
* Establishment of Post Graduate Programmes: Graphic Design / Product Design / Textile Design / Furniture Design and Ceramic Design / Animation / Film Making / Photography / Typography
* Establishment of Library and Workshops with Ford Foundation funds
* Visiting Faculty: Eminent Designers with Ford Foundation funding
* Ford Foundation Project Funding and first round of Faculty Development and international training
* Publishing of NID Documentation 1964 to 1969
* Learning by Doing – as slogan for project based learning

The Crisis Years: 1970 to 1980
* Induction of first Executive Director: Vice Admiral Soman
* Falling out with Chairman Governing Council and trial by media.
* Launching of Undergraduate Programme – SLPEP
* Establishment of internal student consultative processes – Consultative Forum and Discipline Meetings
* Structure Culture Document
* Internal Management & Executive Board with Prof H Kumar Vyas as Acting Director
* Departure of Gautam and Gira Sarabhai
* Pupul Jayakar as second Chairman of Governing Council
* Wanchoo Committee Report
* Thappar Committee Report
* Induction of Ashoke Chatterjee as second Executive Director
* New Evaluation Systems for NID Faculty and Staff
* Labour unrest of workshop staff
* Floods of 1973 – Inundation of entire ground floor facilities
* Commencement of Institutional Building processes
* Design of Systems for internal management
* Rotating responsibilities for Faculty and departments
* Creation of Faculty Forum and internal processes of consultation
* IIMA Faculty as management consultants – Pulin Garg and others in Admissions and evaluation systems
* Ravi J Matthai as advisor to Executive Director and Governing Council
* UNIDO-ICSID conference on Design for Development – New Ideological perspectives for Design education to look at neglected sectors and new areas of application.

The Culture Building Years: 1980 to 1990
* Systems building in education and formulation of teaching curriculum and syllabus
* Testing of educational processes that were unique to India and elsewhere
* No examiniation system of evaluation jury and qualitative assessment of students
* Professional Projects taken to classrooms and students work on live projects in the field
* Research projects in textiles and industrial design
* Social Communication projects in Communication Design
* Environmental Design projects for Tourism and Conservation of heritage
* Village studies through Special Projects and Extension Training in Crafts
* Focus on Quality and Delivery of results as new models for development
* Faculty Forum and Open Forum as a platform for planning and collective action
* International acclaim for development focus – ICSID Phillips Award
* International acclaim for Design Education – Sir Misha Black Award
* UNDP Project Funding and second round of Faculty Development and international training
* Induction of Vinay Jha as 3rd Executive Director: 1985 to 1989
* Ashoke Chatterjee as Faculty Emeritus and Advisor
* Decentralising of Administrative processes
* Liberalisation of Faculty engagement and work ethic
* Project focus and Institution building strengthened by decentralisation
* Outreach Programmes set up with Cells in Bangalore, Madras, Delhi and Calcutta

The Consolidation Years: 1989 to 2000
* Induction of Vikas Satwalekar as 4th Executive Director
* Consolidation of Education programmes and documentation of outcomes
* Young Designers Publications launched and sustained
* Diploma Projects of students as a barometer of connect with the National economy
* Major Professional Projects continue
* Publications Programmes established
* Outreach Programmes consolidated
* Consulting activities strengthened
* Major consolidation in education processes and quality focus
* New Curricullum developed and introduced at UG and PG levels

The Rapid Expansion Years 2000 to 2008
* Dr D O Koshy inducted as 5th Executive Director
* Numerous new initiatives launched on a daily basis
* New Centres set up in Bangalore and Gandhinagar
* New Disciplines launched at Paldi, Gandhinagar and Bangalore campuses
* Design projects outsourced and rapidly scaled up
* Disconnect from education and projects
* Educational processes undermined
* Pre-Diploma presentation abandoned
* NID in the news on daily basis
* CII-NID Design Summit series launched and sustained from 2001
* Many International linkages re-established under the MOU format
* Student and Faculty Exchange programmes formalised and expanded
* Government Funding for new facilities and campuses enhanced
* Quality erosion in education a source of concern internally
* NID workshops dismantled to make way for digital facilities
* National Design Policy launched
* Massive Computer infrastructure established with government funding
* Speed, Efficiency and Administrative controls centralised
* Research Focus as a new slogan to bring culture change
* Faculty induction with slant for PhD holders
* Student dissent on Gandhinagar and Bangalore campusses
* D O Koshy’s term extended in 2005 but suddenly ended in 2008

The Golden Jubillee Years; 2008 to 2012
* Akhil Succenna appointed as Acting Director.
* Status quo in education and institutional processes
* Pradyumna Vyas inducted as 6th Executive Director
* Consolidation of Education quality and processes announced
* Review of curriculum launched by faculty and alumni teams in each discipline
* Publication of NID History as a major project for Golden Jubilee
* MSME Project launched with massive funding from Government
* Faculty consulting scheme launched after much debate
* Institutional projects take a back-seat
* India Design Council Launched and new programmes for design promotion announced.
* Railway Minister allots Rs 10 Crores for a Railway Design Centre at NID campus in March 2012 budget speech.

Insights & Lessons from NID History

A. Nature of Design
Complexity and Chaos
Systems Thinking
Wicked Problems
Value of Traditional Wisdom
Metaphor of Seed – Needs Nurture
Metaphor of Fire – Acts as a System
Metaphor of Iceberg – Only a part is visible

B. Nature of Education
Motivation and Ideology
Feeling & Sensitivity (Empathy)
Tolerance to Ambiguity

C. Nature of Organisations
Resilience to Crisis
Flexible to Change
Systems for Routine Tasks

D. Nature of People
Leadership can Rally people to perform
Systems & Values
“Power cannot be delegated, it can only be assumed” Ravi J Matthai.

E. Nature of Mission
Clarity of Goals
Structure of Opportunity
Mapping of Meaning

F. Nature of Knowledge
Deep Respect for Traditional Wisdom
Tolerence for Ambiguity

Prof M P Ranjan - Design for India


  1. I love this post. Its very informative. Thanks for sharing with us. Great job

  2. Thanks your site is very informative for us.

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  3. Good post. I like the very frank points mentioned. An accurate account of NID's history, with the good, the bad and the ugly.

    Lets hope for a better future for our institute.

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  5. Thanks Ranjan for this very useful post!

  6. Great post..i enjoyed reading it..Thanks for sharing .


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