As a design professional and an alumnus of National Institute of Design, I have spent over 35 years in the industry working on diverse aspects of design right from graphic design, set design, working on advertising films and more. I have also been sharing my expertise and imparting design knowledge at several premier institutes and I am currently the HOD & associate director at UID, Karnavati university.
My work has given me an opportunity to work with a wide range of stakeholders including several government agencies, NGO’s, corporates & diplomatic missions. Therefore, when a few months ago one of the founding members of Rukmani Trust, approached me to talk about opportunities in the field of design to a group of children in rural Assam, I was more than happy to work for a cause and make a small difference in the lives of young people.
I must say though that the experience of speaking at Jiban Jatra, Rukmani Trust’s rural initiative in education, turned out like none other; both a heartening and heartbreaking experience in parts. More on that later!
Let me start by stating that explaining Design to audiences is never easy. Not only is the word “design” loosely used and misused, it also has many verticals and parallels. Explaining it to a group of young students in distant rural Assam, was challenging to say the least. For one, the vast demographic of India often makes communication difficult, more so if it is online!
However, assisted ably by my colleague Meghna who is a designer and an Assamese, my task became a little easier. Other than Meghna, I was also ably assisted by Jai Shankar, Rukmani Trust’s founding member, who helped bring these concepts to life for the children. We had designed a presentation to keep the information to a minimum, to explain in simple terms that design is involved in everything right from a safety pin to a train system; that design is everywhere, and it permeates our life in more ways than one.
Now to the heartening and heartbreaking aspects; having addressed several large gatherings in a day’s work, it was absolutely heartwarming to see 60 eager students from far flung rural Assam listening so intently, the spark clearly visible in their eyes, even over a sometimes tottering internet connection.
Gandhi had said, “the real India lives in the villages”, and here I was witnessing it first hand. The heartbreaking bit was to see 10 kids peering over a single device, as their gateway to knowledge and information.
While Rukmani Trust is making a tremendous effort in making education inclusive, the onus clearly lies on all of us to work towards empowering rural India in our individual and collective capacities. Giving back to society clearly needs to be on our must-do and not nice-to-do list.
I, for one, am committing myself to sharing knowledge with this large populace that has just so much potential but is limited by resources. Would you pledge to make a difference in the lives of these youngsters?