December 17 - 19
National Institute of Design
India
M.P. Ranjan

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Ahmedabad, India

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M.P. Ranjan is an independent academic living in Ahmedabad. Having taught at the National Institute of Design for the past four decades he has been interested and involved in numerous areas of development in India and in the spread of design education to a variety of sectors in the country. His areas of interest are in design theory, design education, and design action in the areas of crafts and bamboo which he considers to have future potential for the Indian economy. He has published several books and papers on design and its use in India and his blogs have attracted over 100,000 visitors from about 8000 cities around the world as a useful resource on 'Design for India'.

www.designforindia.com




Urban Rural Divide:
Opportunities for Digital Inclusion

Motivation
Village India is an amazing study of autonomous agrarian existence over 5,000 years of evolution and refinement. Globalisation, communication, and mindset change in the face of massive urbanisation in India and across the world have eroded our confidence in our very survival. The gap between urban and rural opportunities is growing at an unacceptable level.
There is a huge volume of traditional wisdom that is accumulated in the rural village. What could be the role of Information Technologies and Social Networks to change the balance in favour of the village?

Approach
We started with this approach over 30 years ago and it is still work in progress, pursuing research into traditional wisdom and using design sensibilities to discover and map resources that could inform progress and planning directions. India is an incredible resource base and its diversity is a living opportunity for discovery and innovation.
The arrival of communication tools that clear the last mile connectivity problem open up new possibilities for imagination and design explorations. The challenges lie in making the wide availability of high quality Education, Healthcare, Communication, and Entertainment a reality for our rural people.

Conclusion
Design of scenarios, prototypes, and conceptual models have demonstrated viable approaches for addressing the needs of rural India, based on design thought and action. Papers that outline these experiments and convictions have been shared on blogs and conferences.
Our work in bamboo, hand crafts, and systems thinking as applied to health care services and education for agri-applications are a case in point, showing areas of opportunity. The challenges are to shift Government policy from the current state of apathy to a considered use of design as a development and policy resource to move forward. Design is a political resource.

Extensions
The mobile phone revolution has helped digital access to reach deep into rural India. The technology has arrived but applications of local value are missing and need to be invested into urgently. The Census of India 2011 and the National ID Card are Government initiatives that can be leveraged to build practical services in micro-finance, biometric validation, and local governance, making top down and bottom up use of information technologies.
Social networking and open source movements are indicators of new and emerging opportunities in this space to engage our design imagination and make public investments.

References
M P Ranjan. (2007 - 2010) Ahmedabad
www.design-for-india.blogspot.com.

M P Ranjan, NIlam Iyer & Ghanshyam Pandya. (1986, 2004). Traditional Wisdom: Bamboo and Cane Crafts of Northeast India, Ahmedabad, National Institute of Design

Aditi Ranjan & M P Ranjan (Eds.). (2008) Handmade in India, New Delhi & Ahmedabad, COHANDS & National Institute of Design

Papers by M P Ranjan for recent conferences in Istanbul, Helsinki, and Nanjing (2009, 2010)

Reports and strategy papers for new Institutions such as IICD, Jaipur and BCDI, Agartala


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