Union Budget and expectations for a design-driven economy

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. PTI

In the ever-evolving global economy, India stands at a crucial juncture where the integration of design into various sectors could catalyse innovation, economic growth, and social development. As the upcoming budget season approaches, the government must recognize the pivotal role of design education and research in shaping India’s future. This article delves into the budget expectations that could fortify design-centric initiatives, touching upon the realms of education, research, and manufacturing.

Design has emerged as a valuable asset across all industries, emphasizing the irreplaceable nature of creative thinking and innovation. To bolster design education in India, government support is essential. Establishing a National Design Research Fund, widening the scope to include art and design-centric proposals under STEAM, and allocating an annual budget will empower faculty research, and student projects, and enhance overall design education quality. Addressing the shortage of qualified faculty members by introducing measures to bring in experienced foreign faculty members is crucial. Incentivizing institutions to hire foreign faculty through a designated fund and streamlined visa processes can elevate the standard of design education in India.

Furthermore, encouraging collaboration between design education institutions and industries by offering CSR-like tax incentives for companies investing in design education will provide students with real-world exposure, enhancing their employability and bridging the gap between academia and industry. Increasing financial support through scholarships and grants for students pursuing design education is also crucial to ensure that talented students, regardless of their financial background, can contribute to the growth of design in India.

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Design research is imperative for addressing complex issues across various domains. By investing in design research and development, India can unlock new possibilities and drive economic and social progress. Key areas where design research can make a significant impact include healthcare, product development, environmental sustainability, and beyond.

Design intervention in manufacturing can be a game-changer for the government’s “Make in India” initiative. From product development and cost efficiency to branding, marketing, sustainability, and increased employment opportunities, design-driven strategies can revolutionize the manufacturing sector. Design intervention can contribute to the creation of innovative products tailored to Indian consumers’ preferences. User-centered design methods can ensure products resonate with the local market, as exemplified by the success of the “Niramai” breast cancer screening device. By incorporating design thinking methods such as value stream mapping, design intervention can identify and eliminate inefficiencies in the manufacturing process, leading to cost reduction and increased profits. Design intervention can play a crucial role in creating a strong brand image for Indian-manufactured goods, making them visually appealing and competitive in the global market.

The rebranding of the Indian Railways serves as a notable example. Moreover, design intervention can drive sustainability by promoting eco-friendly materials and processes. For instance, the “Eco-friendly Auto Rickshaw” developed by the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi showcases how design can contribute to reducing emissions and using sustainable materials. Through more efficient and automated manufacturing processes, design intervention can increase production and employment opportunities, aligning with the government’s goal of creating more jobs for Indian citizens.

As India aspires to become a global economic powerhouse, the integration of design into education, research, and manufacturing processes is imperative. The upcoming budget presents a golden opportunity for the government to allocate resources strategically, fostering an environment where design becomes a driving force for innovation, economic growth, and societal well-being. By prioritizing design-centric initiatives, India can secure a brighter and more competitive future on the world stage.

The author is Vice-Chancellor, World University of Design. Views expressed in the above piece are personal and solely that of the author. They do not necessarily reflect Firstpost’s views.

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