Posted on Monday, May 19, 2014
“There are 150 million students studying in colleges in India. This number is expected to rise to an astonishing 450 million by 2020”, said the Minister of Communications and Information, India at the THINK festival in 2011.
Among the many career options blooming in the country is design. From social initiatives to economic initiatives, designers are in demand at all levels. Thus, the exceeding number of applications for seats at design schools as well as the focus on development in the country defines the opportunity to create an institution solely for design.
University education in India is dominated by vertical specialisations with little connect between various disciplines. The emphasis has been on the development of knowledge resources and capability within each domain of study. However, it is seen that to solve real world issues, and to tap on emerging opportunities, there is a need for interdisciplinary and a trans-cultural approach. It is here that many educators across disciplines are turning to design and design thinking. Emerging Masters level programmes permit interdisciplinary, industry centric education that makes students the jack of all trades and the master of one discipline.
Social/ cultural design programmes define the next level of design pedagogy. In a developing nation like India, various sectors such as healthcare, urbanisation, rural development, education, mobility, agriculture, etc provide tremendous scope for design intervention at various levels. These unique issues however, have to be addressed keeping in mind the various contexts. All eyes are set on the future of the world’s 33% population that resides in India. A majority of this population consists of people in rural areas. Therefore, ‘the bottom of the pyramid’ represents the fastest growing markets favorable for great entrepreneurial opportunities that can be found amongst billions of underprivileged people.
Design thinking can be applied to fetch immediate results and enhance the image of design and the power of social innovation.
A number of international countries have opened design centers in India, targeting the needs of this segment and making it the source for a number of design innovations. Design education will thus be instrumental in increasing the quality of life. To understand and respond to social responsibilities that are pertinent to local and global communities, a multi-?disciplinary and collaborative approach needs to be imbibed, that can in turn enhance the country’s ability to innovate and solve problems.
(The author is the academic head, The Design Village)
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