The Government of Kerala has taken a step that no other State Government has done so far, that of setting up a design school to address the needs of the region. The only other example that comes to my mind is the setting up of the Indian Institute of Crafts and Design (IICD) in Jaipur as a centre of excellence for creating change agents for the crafts sector using design as a core driver. This institute was set up by the Rajasthan Government based on a Feasibility Report for the proposed School of Crafts that was prepared by me as a member of the National Instituite of Design, Ahmedabad in 1993. In 2001 we helped redefine through our Feasibility Report, the role of the Bamboo and Cane Development Institute at Agartala to use design as a core driver for the bamboo sector of the country, as a sector specific institute that used design, technology and management in an integrated manner to get best results. Kerala too will need a forward looking vision statement in the context of our new understanding of design and the ongoing debates that have been raised by the mindless expansion that has been initiated by the DIPP, Government of India for the premier design education institute of the country, the National Institute of Design that led to a public outcry from groups of concerned design academics and professionals from across India through a new initiative called the Vision First initiative that has called for a serious rethink and wider discourse about the four new NID's that are proposed as part of their plans.
We now need a second meet on the proposed KSID's directions and this should lead to a clearly articulated vision statement that can help both Government of Kerala and the KSID functionaries to steer the institutes fledgling infrastructure as well as its new education programmes through the political channels of approval and public acceptance in the days ahead. Just yesterday evening, I was discussing the status of the KSID proposals with the members of the vision meet in 2009, Prakash Moorthy and Sangita Shroff, while having tea at the BMW at the NID Paldi campus and later last night I saw P T Girish's note in my mail box with the attached photographs of the KSID as it stands today. Another interesting coincidence is that I have just started teaching a course at the CEPT University for the Masters level programme at SID, the MIAD class on
Understanding Crafts and its Context in India where we have assigned the students three States to research, Rajasthan, Orissa and Kerala and they have an assignment to explore the use of local crafts in space making tasks that could be applied to the creation of a new holiday resort in their region. More about this course in another post soon. These connected set of events triggered this particular blog post and I hope that Kerala sets up a leadership position with the use of design for development and that this move will go well beyond what is needed in the crafts sector but also look at the needs for "Design across the 230 sectors" of our economy where design is critically needed but our political and administrative class do not yet seem to know this from the kind of support that design gets in the national and state budgets today. Can Kerala show the way? Only time will tell.
M P Ranjan