Sunday, January 13, 2013

Recognising the Roots: NID accorded status of "Institute of National Importance"

Recognising the Roots: Indian Cabinet approves status of an "Institute of National Importance" for the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad.
Prof. M P Ranjan


Sand sculpture extending the buttress roots of the Big Tree in the Gira Gautam Square at NID Paldi in Ahmedabad created as part of the class experience of Media explorations by Textile Design students under the guidance of teacher Jayanthi Naik (J L Naik) last week. They must have had a premonition about the Indian Cabinets' forthcoming act of passing a resolution according the status of "Institute of National Importance" to the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad at the meeting held on 10 January 2013. See PIB News release here.

The National Institute of Design was set up in 1961 based on a report by Charles and Ray Eames called the India Report of 1958. In the past 50 years the Institute has had a remarkable journey of exploration and discovery that was informed by the spirit of the India report but the Government that had set it up with a great deal of vision  and enthusiasm in 1961 seemed to have been all but forgotten over the next 50 years with the Institute being managed by a small department within the Ministry of Industry while the other major national institutes such as the Indian Institutes of Technology and the Indian Institutes of  Management were placed under the Ministry of Education which is now the Ministry of Human Resources and they were accorded a status of importance that NID was never given for over 50 years of its existance.

The return of the echo of the dramatic roots in the sand sculpture by Naik's students somehow reflects the Governments belated recognition of NID and its value system and the contributions that it has made and the critical role that it can make in the building of the nation in the years ahead which now becomes possible with this significant act of recognition. NID can become an equal partner in the journey of nation building in the years ahead along with the other streams of knowledge that are already recognised and well funded. We should not let this occasion slip into another bout of  extended amnesia since it is so easy to forget the contribution of design since most of it is intangible and hence cannot be measured by the yardsticks of science, technology or management and it needs to be sensed and felt long before the hard measurements begin to make sense. The dramatic roots of the Big Tree  at the Sarabhai plaza were covered up when the platform was built in their honour just as much of NID's educational experiments were undermined by the search for formal recognition from the educational systems that dominate India. NID went through the whole process of trying to get the status of a Deemed University in a mistaken level of enthusiasm that many of us had labelled "Doomed Univerity" since the search seemed to be for qualification and not competence and sensibilities that are so important and central to design action. I hope that the efforts to write the history of NID will look at these significant moments and efforts and contributions and not gloss over the shift to grades and marks (quantitative systems of evaluation) in search of recognition of a deep and stable educational system that was an experiment at NID (qualitative systems of evaluation) that needs to be cherished and perhaps used to inform all of higher education in India in the days ahead.

We need to ponder on those values and processes of education that NID had built and through decades of hard work in the face of great opposition from outside as well as within and this is something from which so many of its alumni have found substance and sustenance to face the challenges of a very hostile Indian landscape for the uncertain and the new that has been India of the past 50 years from our experience in the lack of recognition from both India Governments as well as from Industry. This is not surprising since we live in a very controlled economy even with all the bouts of liberalisation and design can only flourish when there is real competition and an open economy and India is now heading in that very direction and design  will be the core activity going forward from here.

Gautam Gira Square and the Big Tree from the Wood Workshop end. The extended roots were covered when the commemorative platform was built to celebrate the founder Chairman of NID
- http://www.flowersofindia.net/catalog/slides/Badminton%20Ball%20Tree.html -

What are those roots that have been covered or even lost at NID and in Indian design as a whole when design education was struggling to find its feet in the larger Indian eco-system? The gradautes  and alumni of the school must ponder about this and help articulate what may be taken forward and this is a call for such an articulation since we do need a new imagination for design education in india that can inform the next 50 years or more. These roots must be uncovered and revealed and from this uncovering we will reflect and build new knowledge that will help us navigate the future in the days ahead.

The Big Tree when I joined NID in 1969 and later in 2007 after the platform was built.

NID needs to take on the mantle of leadership that has been bestowed by this act of Government and build models for designerly thought and action across the 230 sectors of our economy and not remain restricted to the pandering to the needs of large corporate industry and their short term needs for car styling and graphics when the country needs serious design investments in urban mobility and public transportation, just to give one example where we need to shift our emphasis in real earnest. We need to enumerate such actions and extend these concerns across the 230 sectors of our economy in as many conferences and workshops that may be needed to reach out to stakeholders and build a new agenda for action in the days ahead. We need to invest in design  faculty and the young designers coming out of our schools so that they may serve the real clients, the people of India in addressing their needs with imagination and sensitivity as wel as design expertise and not remain happy with the Jugaad - patchwork quilt of poverty driven innovations for India - that seems to be celebrated by management gurus as the core capability that the world is talking about as the only major innovative ability of India today..

Prof M P Ranjan
Professor - Design  Chair, CEPT University, Ahmedabad
13 January 2013

28 comments:

  1. Ranjan, excellent article and kudos. I agree and in addition to not pandering to short term needs we absolutely need Systems Thinkers and long term strategic planners. The country's entire weight is on the chest of almostone billion by whose labour and victimization the rest of country moves forward, with "jugaad". Govt. should develop a unit to transform all this into action and knowledge http://www.sitra.fi/en

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    1. i agree with ranjit sir compeletly lets relook at it systematically and its time dignity is bestowed upon the people who actually work and exhecute.

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    2. dear ranjan sir,
      heartiest congratulation.its good news for the design community.
      i agree to the concerns raised by u sir.in my opinion design thinking needs to be integrated at high school level so that whatever discipline the students venture into in future they can have the faith in the fact that things can be looked at with a different pt of view.with very little experience of being in design education at nashik,i have realized that the students coming from semi rural and rural sectors are unaware about design but once in it they raise issues of ground realities.
      i am sharing random thoughts.
      one more request to u sir. why can we not create a platform where desgn educationist can come together and share irrespective of the institute they belong to.
      warm regards
      suvarna

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    3. Dear Suvarna Patil

      Your call for design educationists to come together on one platform is an interesting one and a much needed change from the secret operations that are conducted behind closed doors by our design schools these days. We do need to shat-re our scarce resources and now NID has a special role to provide leadership in this space and share all its resources that have been accumulated over the past 50 years of design education and see that all schools have access to this even if they do not decide to follow this lead. All of this resource was built using scarce national resources and it needs to be shared urgently before they are lost in some way or even forgotten or thrown away due to lack of space or vision....

      The crafts documentations that are lying in the NID Library are a case in point. the Government of Indi must give instructions that these should be shared online as a national resource. Only 14 of these were published as part of the NID Publishing programme that I was involved in in 1991 but this programme was stopped soon thereafter. Once the Handmade in India was published in 2007 we started receiving several requests for the crafts documentations that we had listed in the Annotated Bibliography section but the response is still to be worked out for want of a consistent policy. This situation must change and change fast if these studies are to help rural crafts on the ground and not remain locked in secret archives of our Institutes of National Importance.

      Prof M P Ranjan
      Professor _design Chair, CEPT University, Ahmedabad
      15 January 2013 at 8.20 pm IST

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    4. dear sir,
      how can we together work to make this possible. reasons -- taking an example of my school,its not feasible and affordable at times to have design visionaries and design experienced academicians to visit the institute especially in tier two city to guide us,to have an exchange of ideas,methods,ways,future demands and hence needed revision, up gradation of the focus,course outline,methods,resources and assessment methods and criteria. to be very very honest sir many a times professionals find it waste of time to participate or conduct courses here.let me put it bluntly sir we are not"nids,iits but are genuinely working hard in imparting the best we can to students coming from rural,semi rural areas with limited exposure,vernacular backgrounds but they are amazing.
      another concern i want to share with u sir is academic accountability and audit.i dont know how it can be done but quality of design education that is design thinking,approaches,contextual realities are my serious concerns.looking forward to your experential expert opinion.
      warm regards
      suvarna

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    5. Dear Suvarna Patil

      You ask some very important questions that the India Design Council and the leadership in the design education community must address rather urgently. It is not something that cannot be solved by the use of design thinking in our curriculum strategy as well as in making policy at the national as well as State level with reference to Design Education and this is indeed a much needed investment. Yes, I call this an investment and I have been calling for such an investment along with my colleagues on the Vision First group that came together in an organic manner and became an online movement when the DIPP and the Government of India made their first move to announce the setting up of four new NID's across India without any serious public discussions with stakeholders and the design community that had the experiences to share and offer. Some of these discussions are here at the Vision First blog and I would urge you to take a look at these concerns as well.


      The Industrial Design Centre, IIT Mumbai and the Department of Design, IIT Guwahati and the National Institute of Design, Bangalore Campus are working together on a major initiative called D'source with massive funding from the National Mission on Education through ICT (NME-ICT) code named Sakshat. These efforts are modeled after the MIT OpenCourseWare initiative. See these links here below.
      D'source - http://www.dsource.in/index.php
      Sakshat - http://www.sakshat.ac.in/
      MIT OpenCourseWare - http://ocw.mit.edu/index.htm

      This does not however address the specific question that you have asked here. All of them carry implicit promise that this will help solve the education asymmetry that exists in the world today with urban advantages flowing to the rural areas and from the advanced West to the impoverished and deprived South. Yes, some benefits will flow but good design education and good education in other areas too may be another matter altogether that will need design thinking and strategy of another order of magnitude. As a result of this implicit belief, huge investments are flowing into these initiatives in India and elsewhere but like our massive investments in science and technology there is little real evaluation and auditing of its impact on the ground. Poor schools and distant colleges are still the same. Design education cannot go this way I am sure since the Government does not have the money now that it is already in deep deficit and we will need to use strategy to substitute that lack of funds. I hope that some of these available budgets are made accessible for real design education on the ground as well and m]not just at the leading edge but also at the "thick end of the wedge" (see my paper with that title on my blog). I can send it to you if you want it.

      I think this question will need more time and space and we can continue this discussion in another session and we hope others will join us in finding ways forward from here.

      M P Ranjan
      Professor - Design Chair, CEPT University, Ahmedabad
      18 january 2013 at 12.15 am IST


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  2. Dear Ranjit, Thank you for sharing the SITRA link on this blog and drawing our collective attention to what Finland is doing to promote the use of design in all sectors of their economy. In 2008 I was invited by SITRA to participate in their think tank at Helsinki when they had invited several world leaders in design thinking to help take stock of their various initiatives and to suggest ways forward for strengthening design use in an already rich landscape that is represented by the Scandinavian design and industry community. These countries excel in the use of design by public administration in addition to a very deep commitment by local industry to use and promote design in all their products and services.The merger of three specialised universities was discussed at this meet and I got a glimpse of what was being planned for the formation of the Aalto University when three major universities, Economics, Technology and Design, were to be merged into one single entity to form the Aalto University placing design at the centre of their innovation challenge in a rapidly globalised world order. India needs to learn from this initiative and the SITRA site is a great example of what India can do in all sectors of our economy. http://www.sitra.fi/en.

    As you know we met at Aalto University the next time I was in Finland and Helsinki for the Activity Theory conference in 2010. The Aalto University was then a reality and although there were a few teething problems when 100 year old institutes are merged to embrace design and design thinking, however I could see the far reaching consequences of this move and this will be positive for the Finish industry as well as governance systems with the use of design as an integral offering in all their efforts in a multidisciplinary manner. India needs to learn for this manoeuvre of how the Finish people benefit from such policy actions with the support of the Government of Finland and their policy to make design a central part of their planning and action process.

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    1. Hello Ranjan,

      Thank you for taking the energy and time to share your wisdom and also to reply. :)

      SITRA is an extremely influential innovation think tank and funding agency (huge projects that puts it quite ahead of normal think tanks) that is certainly integrating design thinking into its interactions in extremely turbulent issues from European Union economic matters to future of sustainable living. It is indeed interesting to know that Aalto University has been discussed there too, to what extent I am not sure but its great.

      Locally, most Finns however still need to be aware of the "thinking" that leads to such decisions, I think there is "some" disconnection from the thinking body and having to deal with the consequences and figure the reasoning behind the policies.

      Such as Aalto, no single person I have met has a real manifesto of why the merger happened and where it is hoped to go. Recently tuition fees were voted up for non EU students, and the arguments did not seem to be coherent with respect to what think tanks like SITRA would be capable of. So there are still some cracks that come from top down interventions.

      However, Sitra itself is incredibly future oriented and has a complex and critical thinking that does seem to result in huge design-mindset proposals from the center.

      Finland society is a relatively easy cradle to rock, , with top down interventions... with a combination of incredible primary education and natural proclivity toward nature, honesty, trust, humility and equality all packaged in the Finnish 'stoic' attitude is a blue-eyed companion for design interventions. There is collective wisdom to an astonishing degree.
      It has numerous other challenges that come from western economic growth and welfare state perspective (maintaining equilibrium is tough but monitoring is easy) but these are minor tic- tac games when compared to the overwhelming complexity of India's scale. If there is a move like SITRA, it has to cut through all the bureaucratic nonsense that will prevent its maneuverability.

      In hindsight though, there remains little doubt that the country has been victim of terrible decision making for several decades and only systemic and cybernetic policies that directly influence education can have any hope. If you win people at that age you've pretty much won half the battle (even if its basic literacy), the rest is 'critical thinking' skills.

      http://www.sitra.fi/en/articles/2012/sitra-educates >> this would be a good starting point, educating our "leaders" before 5 year plans from antiquity.

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    2. Dear Ranjit

      I agree that many people, not just the Finish public but even design educators around the world, still think that design is about doing and shaping with hands and the role of the mind in informing the directions that the hands will take and the converse that is also true which is the role of the hands in informing the paths of the mind are not as yet fully understood in design education and in design theory as it stands today. This is fertile ground for new research and design schools are ill equipped to conduct such research it seems. This could mean an opportunity for other disciplines to enter the domain of design and help clarify some of these paradoxes so that we can move forward with a degree of clarity that may be absent today.

      The Finish architect, we are returning to Finish wisdom once again, Juhani Palasmaa in two of his books reflects on the role of body and mind in the shaping of a design offering. The Eyes of the Skin: Architecture and the Senses by Juhani Pallasmaa (Jun 20, 2005) and The Thinking Hand (Architectural Design Primer) by Juhani Pallasmaa (Apr 28, 2009) and I would think that these will become classic references in future programmes in design as well as design thinking.

      Yes, India is a complex society and there is much to be understood about the nature and structure of our culture and its diversity as well as the value of such diversity in the face of rapid globalisation that seems to be making all of us unipolar in our thoughts and actions just as the bio-diversity is being lost for good from our rain forests and the consequences of this is not yet fully understood. Change in India is also that much more complex and we will need a great deal of research in design to help use this diversity as a vehicle for change that is value laden for all of us.

      However, what we can and must learn from the SITRA example is that political and administrative leadership needs orientation in design and design thinking and we do need new initiatives that can make our policy makers better informed about the Design Way as has been captured for all of us by Harold Nelson and Eric Stolterman in their book of the same title now available from the MIT Press The understanding about design and its current state is perhaps best captured in this book and it goes well beyond the use of design for making cool objects to using design for new services, spaces, as well as rules and processes, and better organisations. I remember, that in 1985 NID did make suck an effort and here I remember the role of the Former Director Vinay Jha who as a serving officer of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) was able to get the IAS Academy in Shimla to offer courses to its young trainees an introduction to design however this effort was not sustained after Vinay Jha moved on in 1988 after his three year term. NID has to take up this mission again and extend the effort to reach out to our parliamentarians and legislatures in the States as well with well structured communications, exhibitions and scenario presentations on what could be in each of their constituencies which will need sustained research and design imagination of our students to be directed to such directions of systems in a macro-micro resolution rooted in our multi-varied reality. Can you imagine what could happen if IAS trainees were given design training and followed up with some dedicated funds when they move to their Districts as Collectors with a scheme of action that can change the face of india from ground up and not from Delhi downwards?

      Prof. M P Ranjan
      Professor - Design Chair, CEPT University, Ahmedabad
      14 January 2013 at 10.20 am IST

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    3. Finally, I agree that systems thinking must take root and we ned to look at many of our problems as design opportunities for systems level action and research. This means that we can imagine that each of our Ministries in Government will make plans in a coordinated manner and our new schemes and programmes will be thought through through rigorous design exercises where a number of scenarios would be examined in great detail as well as be shared with stakeholders in a language that they can understand and appreciate before they are implemented with speed and precision to save money, time as well as the humiliation that comes form the discovery of corruption at a later stage as if these could not have been envisaged if they had been visualised in detail and in an open and transparent manner up front. The planning process will get a whole new meaning if these visualisations are shared with the public and their feedback is incorporated in their process of implementation.

      Prof. M P Ranjan
      Professor - Design Chair, CEPT University, Ahmedabad
      14 January 2013 at 10.20 am IST

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  3. Undoubtedly, NID occupies a unique position in the academic landscape of India. Such recognition from the government was long overdue. It is a reason to celebrate.

    As the larger academic environment continues to be rooted in the degree system, I wonder how post graduates from this fine institution will be able to pursue doctoral level studies without a "Masters degree". NID must use advocacy to the fullest extent to ensure that their post graduates are not disadvantaged for pursuing doctoral work in Design or for taking up teaching positions in Universities.

    I would appreciate information about the correct position on this issue. Are there institutions that will accept post graduates from NID for a PhD/ academic teaching position ?

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    1. Dear Misha Bothra

      I am less concerned about the qualification of the Indian design student which I am sure will get an upgrade with this National recognition. However we need to be concerned with their ability to think and act on the complex issues at hand and this is in real danger of being diluted when the country is trying to scale up its design education infrastructure without adequate plans and policies to upgrade the strength of the design faculty in the country and its policies to support design education on par with IIT's and IIMs.

      NID students and especially its undergraduate students have shown their caliber in the world of both research as well as education as they have in practice over the years that this reputation itself is a qualification that few employers and organisations can ignore. Ofcourse we do have rigid organisations and sticklers for qualification such as the Indian IIT's and IIMs that keep a strict vigil to keep these capable undergraduates out of their system but the loss is theirs and not that of the graduates since they have found better opportunities elsewhere especially in places such as the ID IIT in Chicago, the Royal College of Art in London and many more such places of very high esteem. The myth of the "Masters Degree" in design needs to be busted and only then we will find the right yardstick to judge designers as we go forward from here.

      In India all programmes that offer Masters Degree are first degrees in design and the products of such programmes are not more capable at design thought and than the four and five year undergraduate students that come out of reputed schools including NID and the likes of SRISHTI etc. However these graduates do have previous qualifications that do give then=m a degree of maturity and other abilities that hold them in good stead if such skills are in demand in the situations that they address. Even PhD degrees in design seem to be modeled after these masters programmes and are first degrees in design and these will need to be regulated in the future as more design schools begin to offer such programmes in the future.

      These are my personal views and I do invite informed comment on this debate. The India Design Council has announced a conference on Design education in March 2013 but I am still unable to register there online since they have a "under construction flag" on display at the registration page and my pre-registration submission still has not received a reply from the oprganisers. I wonder how one can participate in such an event to contribute ones insights and concerns.

      Prof. M P Ranjan
      Professor - Design Chair, CEPT University, Ahmedabad
      14 January 2013 at 10.50 am IST

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  4. Ranjan

    My great congratulations to India for (finally) recognizing the value of NID, for NID itself for its long history of excellence, and to you for your tireless design work, publications, and continual international travel. The "big tree" with its sometimes hidden roots is a great metaphor for NID itself, with its sometimes hidden greatness.

    Don Norman

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    1. Dear Don

      You are a "Folk Hero" here in India through all your books and online following amongst the design as well as the software community and coming from you these comments will be taken seriously by the Indian Government as well as our design educators here in India. I hope we will see you here in India to further our cause of deepening the impact of design across all sectors of our economy.

      Yes, the NID is indeed deep in its contributions and very little is known of its contributions to society as well as to design education in the world since so little research has been conducted about this work and its significance unlike the volumes that have been done on schools such as the Bauhaus and HfG Ulm in Germany. I mention these two since both have had a deep impact on design education in India. The first through the adoption of its Foundation Programme as the principle driver of design in the formative years and the later with its direct impact on NID that is as yet invisible due to poor research and scholarship about the origins of the NID. I do hope that the history of NID that is being drafted over the past several years by an official team within NID will reflect on some of these contributions in some depth, NID needs to map pout the roles played by its alumni and many of these are indeed significant and have missed any real research reviews and this is a missed opportunity that the school must correct in the future. For instance, the Helsinki Design lab in its search for significant design actions has identified the Daily Dump in Bangalore and built a case study about this initiative by one of our alumni, Poonam Bir Kasturi.

      I had posted a link on this on the PhD-Design list as well as other lists where I am a member. I quote.

      The Helsinki Design Lab that was set up through the SITRA initiatives has case studies of design use across the world and it is not a surprise that they have discovered the "Daily Dump" in Bangalore as an excellent case study of design use for solving the wicked problems facing our cities today where design has made a difference already. Take a look at their case study here. Poonam Bir Kasturi who has built the Design Dumop is an NID graduate and we are proud of her initiative and results.
      http://www.helsinkidesignlab.org/casestudies/daily-dump>
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      Her sister, Kiran Bir Sethi, too was a student at NID and she went on to build a school called Riverside here in Ahmedabad to bring design thought and action to young children. Last year she won the prestigious INDEX Award from Copenhagen for this Riverside initiative called "Design for Change" which is an online competition for school children to use design to resolve local problems in their respective communities. Today we have 25 million children worldwide who are involved in this initiative. We, our colleagues and faculty at NID need to find more such examples and show what design can do in this world.

      Thank you for the personal compliment and I will cherish it and not let it go to my head, if possible, Thank you.

      Prof. M P Ranjan
      Professor - Design Chair, CEPT University, Ahmedabad
      14 January 2013 at 11.20 am IST

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  5. Ranjan,
    Congratulations to NID . 50 years of patience ( or should it be penance!) has turned into wisdom. Hope NID moves forward with its new sense of independent freedom …. and does not turn itself inwards into a wishdom !.... Your last para is empathetic and prophetic as well……
    With empathy, hope and best wishes for the future….
    Pradeep.Y

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    1. Dear Pradeep

      It is good to hear from you in far away Guwahati. Yes, there is an opportunity as well as a danger that such recognition bestows on its recipients. We need to move forward with humility and the NID Administration in particular will need to extend its new role of leadership and help all the other design schools as well as be open to learn from all the initiatives that have been going on in parallel across the country.

      NID will now have the ears of Governments now and this advantage needs to be used to good effect in the days ahead, with all humility and empathy.

      Prof. M P Ranjan
      Professor - Design Chair, CEPT University, Ahmedabad
      14 January 2013 at 11.30 am IST

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  6. Dear Mr.Ranjan,
    Congratulations to the NID on attaining the National status. It's largely due to the years of tireless and some times tiring but exciting work put in by you and your colleagues to say nothing of the youngsters. May it go from strength to strength.
    I feel privileged to have been associated with the staff and students at various stages since I moved to Ahmadabad in 1979.
    Dr.D M Rao.

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    1. Dear Dr Rao,

      We are indeed indebted to you and to the BM Institute in Ahmedabad for the sustained service that you and your Institute have given us at NID over the years and much of which will not be placed in our documentation of the journeys to success particularly due to the nature and content of your services in keeping our sanity in times of stress and frustration. I am sure your association will be remembered fondly by all those who benefitted from your counsel.

      We are also indebted to the team from the IIMA led by the late Prof Pulin Garg who helped set up a strong counseling system at the Institute and participated in many faculty reviews as well as in shaping the NID curriculum in the early years to bring in cognitive expansion as an item on the agenda. I can vouch for the fact that I got interested deeply in thinking and thought processes after some sessions where we discussed the NID Foundation programme and this also led me to read quite a bit from books that were then considered outside the domain of design relevance. Today Design Thinking is a buzz word that is bandied about by most management gurus and we have come a long way from those early beginnings. Thank you.

      Prof. M P Ranjan
      Professor - Design Chair, CEPT University, Ahmedabad
      14 January 2013 at 4.35 pm IST

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  7. I feel a deep sense of pride in knowing that the status of 'Institute of National Importance' is now bestowed on NID. Congratulations to NID and everyone, right from faculty, staff, and students to alumni. And thanks to you Ranjan for your sustained communications and posts.

    Abhishek Shrivastava
    New Media 2005-07

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    1. Dear Abhishek

      Glad to see your post from IIT Mumbai. Yes, NID has waited for over 50 years to get some kind of real recognition from the Government of India. IIT's on the other hand have enjoyed the privilege of being labeled an Institute of National Importance from the very beginning and now even Regional Colleges of Engineering have been redesignated as Institutes of National Importance and this places technology at a real advantage over all our design schools and this must change if India is to move forward with innovation and design as drivers in the future. The UGC list of Institutes of National Importance include the 5 old IITs and 40 new NIT's that were formerly regional engineering colleges and the list also has the IIITDM in Madras and the rest are a few from medical (AIIMS, Delhi, NIPER, Mohali, PGIMER, Chandigarh, SCTIMS&T, Trivandrum) and Hindi Prachar Sabha, Madras, take a look here for the full list at the UGC site here below.
      http://www.ugc.ac.in/institutes-national-importance.aspx

      NID is indeed in rare company with this accord and if you look at the other educational institutes in the country you will find that colleges run into thousands and universities in the hundreds perhaps without counting the huge number of Management schools and and many Fashion schools and Schools of Architecture. I hope that design is seeing a new beginning and an increased quota of financial allocation with this recognition and that other design schools too will get the privileges and attention from Government that the regional engineering schools have got in recent years. There are several that are doing great work in a very hostile environment here in India today. NID and the IDC may open up the ground for this to happen I hope.

      M P Ranjan
      Professor - Design Chair, CEPT University, Ahmedabad
      from my Mac at home
      16 January 2013 at 2.20 am IST

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    2. Dear Ranjan, I only get to see this reply now after I followed your conversation with Don Norman on PhD Design List. Thanks for sharing the link listing all of Institutes of National Importance. I, somewhere, share a similar feeling with you when you speak of such a 'long awaited' recognition to Design vis–à–vis IITs and RECs (turning into NITs) and others. However I feel that such a marked ignorance has in turn created a compassionate body of people. I don't want to romanticize this notion but when I listen to available stories of people who made it to design, often a lot of these stories suggest a sense of anti-normative journey. I don't expect much but the least that such a recognition can do is to spread the awareness. And with awareness and with design coming in to day-to-day parlance, such anti-normative journey could become a little easier.

      Abhishek Shrivastava
      New Media 2005-07

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  8. Dear Ranjan,

    A timely post on a much-delayed recognition. Congratulations to you and a lot of others who have contributed to the institution-building. Your enthusiasm is infectious and I hope the NID administration is as enthused about re-orienting themselves. A lot of the people I spoke with only look at this as an opportunity for NID to have its own degrees. Your is the only post that urges everyone to look beyond cosmetic changes. NIFT is an institution, that got an earlier recognition similar to this and I do not see radical changes like this happening. As you clearly say, this is an opportunity. I sincerely hope that NID rises to the occassion.

    A Balasubramaniam

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  9. Dear Bala

    Thank you for your comments. Yes, we must look beyond the mere accord of degrees and other form of qualification as an equivalent level to that of an University which is a given condition by such a recognition. However, there are bigger tasks to be done here in India and design and not NID alone that should be in focus when we discuss this issue in my opinion. Design has been underfunded and ignored by the Government of India as a critical resource for development and nation building tasks and this is the area that we must all focus upon in the days ahead if the real benefits of this recognition filters down to real action on the ground.

    I looked at the NIFT Act of parliament of 2006. This is different from the one accorded to NID since NID has been recognised as an Institute of National Importance under a different set of guidelines it seems. Correct me if I am wrong. You can download the NIFT Act as a pdf file from this link here below.
    - http://www.nift.ac.in/downloads/The-Gazette-of-India.pdf -

    I believe that the IIM's too have been set up under a separate Act of parliament that is unique to those institutes. More research is needed here and we can find out about this in the days ahead. However NID has been clubbed with a select list of the 5 IIT's and 40 new NIT's as well as the AIIMS and few other medical research Institutes as well as the Hindi Prachar Sabha according to the UGC list of Institutes of National Importance on their website here.
    http://www.ugc.ac.in/institutes-national-importance.aspx

    We will need to await the Gazette notification after the NID accord is passed by Parliament to see if there are any changes there. I feel that just as the NIT's have been upgraded and some select of these may be in Public Private Partnership there is scope for us to see if other design schools can be upgraded as well if we can understand the guidelines properly and implement these in both old as well as several new schools that I am sure will be set up to meet the huge need here in India. China has set up over 400 schools of design and they are now reported to be doing great work in catching up for lost time and this move should take them well ahead of India although we had ahead start with over 50 years of experience with the NID and 40 years with the IDC experience at the IIT Mumbai. The Government will need to examine all our present models and look forward to what we may need in the future and the new NID's that are proposed in the next plan period must be informed by such a wider examination and forward looking stance which unfortunately is missing in the manner in which the DIPP has tried to shove through the setting up of these new schools in the past two years. The hue and cry that was raised by the Vision First group in which you too participated did seem to bring some collective reflection to the surface but once again there is lack of transparancy in these processes and we may loose the plot altogether, I fear, if this continues at NID and the India Design Council level as well as at the Government level.
    - http://visionpehle.wordpress.com/ -

    M P Ranjan
    Professor - Design Chair, CEPT Universoty, Ahmedabad
    16 January 2013 at 10.15 am IST

    ReplyDelete
  10. In June 2012 I had given a very critical interview to the Edu Tech Magazine calling for drastic changes in the way design education was being managed at NID as well as in the country. I am glad to see the the Government has taken a wise step to set right some of the wrongs that have been going on for more than 5o years now with the national recognition accorded to NID. However the task is now to set the leadership action from NID to be set in motion. See this interview at this link here below titled "Lack of Vision Hampers Design Education" 12 June 2012 by Teja Lele Desai.
    - http://www.edu-leaders.com/content/lack-vision-hampers-design-education -

    I quote briefly from that critical interview...

    Q: What should the government ideally do to enhance the design educational experience in India?
    A: The government must revamp the governance structure of its design schools, particularly NID, and make it responsive to inputs from experienced designers and alumni from across numerous sectors of our economy. It should also ensure substantial increase in funding and autonomy in operation and leave the action in the hands of able design leadership with vision and ability.

    Q: What is the approach needed to design education systems and curricula in design schools of the future?
    A: We need a serious overhaul of all design curricula across disciplines since we are at the cusp of great change and design deals with the shaping of this leading edge itself. We will need a special set of parameters to evaluate effectiveness and relevance. I believe the design experience in the country has the knowledge and the skills to bring about this change, provided it is nurtured and supported by government policy and sensitive industry involvement.
    UnQuote


    There is a long list of articles and interviews with education thought leaders in India at this site and some of these may be of interest to this debate. Take a look here as well.
    - http://www.edu-leaders.com/resources/people -

    Prof M P Ranjan
    Professor - Design Chair, CEPT University, Ahmedabad
    18 January 2013 at 9.45 pm IST

    ReplyDelete
  11. Dear Ranjan,

    Thanks for the clarifications. Encouraged by this post, I wrote one on the subject that is more inclined towards celebrating the honour. Take a look and let me know what you think...
    http://designdesh.wordpress.com/2013/01/17/design-a-subject-of-national-importance/

    Regards,

    Bala

    ReplyDelete
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