“The change India is undergoing is a change in kind not a change of degree.”

India is a land of many traditions, cultures and practices. This is something very unique to India, something that we, as Indians,  greatly value and are extremely proud of. But unfortunately, traditions and cultures restrict our decision making capabilities to some extent. As mentioned in the India report, most of the decisions become unconscious and actions are pre-set.  And it was felt that in a country changing in it’s “kind”, decisions need to be made consciously by constantly evaluating various factors that are changing as India is growing and the needs of the people are evolving. The aim was meet the “Standard of Living” of the people and work on the qualities that Indians hold important to a good life.

As India grew, the seriousness of basic problems started to increase and a need was felt to appraise and solve these problems. And hence, access to proper training in the area of design was felt of utmost importance. This need to solve our problems and meet our needs led to the introduction of Design as formal education is India.

Charles Eames interestingly found ‘Lota’, a simple vessel of everyday use to be one of the most beautiful of designs and wanted that the problems of our coming times be solved with the same tremendous service, dignity and love that the Lota served its time.

What made ‘Lota’ one of the greatest of designs? 

Lota is not designed by one man, but is designed by many men over many generations. Many men added and removed properties based on their knowledge, needs and capabilities.

The first thing to take care while designing is to shut out all preconceived ideas on the subject and then begin to consider factor after factor. List down the requirements and the actions that shall be performed while using the product in a wide set of circumstances and hence carefully point the factors a designer must consider while designing a product.

The next most important thing to be considered is the involvement of various disciplines in the process of designing. The considerations and the design must be a result of various point of views of varied disciplines of expertise to result in a design that is robust in all aspects. (As in the case of Lota, it was modified by various men based on their expertise and requirements)

Another major consideration is – the drive for quality. How effectively are the factors being taken into consideration and the needs of the people are being met is to be taken care of while designing a solution to the problems.

India, even after about half a century stands at a similar position. Even after major advancements in technology, the most basic needs of a major part of the population of India are unmet.

Why?

I believe, this time, its not the cultures or languages that’s binding us. We have outgrown the the pre-programmed behavior that our traditions expected of us, we have reached a position where we are making conscious decisions. But maybe they aren’t in the right direction. Technology is another factor that, instead of broadening our ability to explore, is limiting our effort to innovate, innovate simple, innovate useful. We need to use the technological advancements made my man smartly and in a manner that shall work towards improving the “Standard of living” of everyone in India as a whole and not just a particular section of society.

We need to revisit the vision of Jawaharlal Nehru and Charles Eames of introducing design as formal education in India and work on the qualities that Indians (as a whole) hold important to a good life.

-Shubhangi Gupta

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