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Design in India – For the World

By : C V Raman

Our Honorable Prime Minister's clarion call for “Make in India” has caught the attention of the world, and “Design in India” is an integral part of the “Make in India” Programme. Design in India has come a long way in last 2 decades or so. I remember the days when finding an Industrial Designer with relevant skills was a challenging task. Today young Indian designers are churning some really cool products and striving to compete globally.

In Automotive industry itself one can see a big transformation in the R&D activities. These have gone from being just engineering focused, to well synergized setups, where Design plays a key role. Our recently launched Compact SUV Vitara Brezza stands testimony to this maturity.

Having said this, I believe that the real journey for Indian Design has just begun. It has a long but exciting road ahead. In my opinion, some areas that will be crucial for development of Automotive Design in India would be:

Developing Design Skills Aligned to Future Industry Requirements:

Today, we are witnessing an explosion of sorts, in the extent of exposure that customers are getting. Their expectations are rising with every passing day and what was acceptable yesterday, may not even feature in their consideration set today.

Global companies are offering their latest products in India, putting a huge pressure on local players. In this race for survival, companies in India have no other option but to strengthen their R&D efforts. And for that the most important ingredient is having manpower with the requisite skills.

Similar challenges are also highlighted in the Automotive Mission Plan 2026. We need to strengthen the Indian Auto Industry by focusing on indigenous R&D efforts.

Today there are a good number of Design schools in India but majority of young designers entering the Industry, have to undergo extensive training and mentoring before they actually deliver. This scenario is not productive where Time to Market is crucial.

We need to bridge the gap in Industry expectations vs academic requirements. There is need for an open dialogue between the two stakeholders to strengthen the partnership and create a “Win-Win” situation.

There is also a need to formulate a focused strategy for Industrial Design under the umbrella of the “Skill India” initiative of Government.

Mobility for Smart Cities

In the latest concept of Smart cities initiated by the Ministry of Urban Development, efficient urban mobility and public transport are clearly highlighted as core infrastructure elements.

The key challenge is to provide a reasonably comfortable and safe transport solution from their Home to work locations or “the last mile connectivity”

In well developed economies we find many innovative mobility solutions, but the same models may not work in India. So, Indian Designers will have to challenge themselves to think beyond the current norms and find innovative solutions.

As this concept is still in the early stages, time-wise it is perfect to build synergies between Town Planners, Architects and Designers.

Focus on Newer Technologies

Next generation power train technologies such as Hybrids and EV's are not a distant dream anymore.

This change in technology is a huge opportunity for Designers to re-write some old rules and pen a new lease of life for Mobility solutions. Many of these technologies have totally new packaging requirements. It would be exciting to see how designers maximize the Human Space in these machines.

One other challenge for Designers will be “How to visually communicate to users that these are cleaner cars”.

Many initiatives are being undertaken in parallel, but I believe that Industry, Academia and Government need to have a holistic approach and prepare an integrated strategy and policy taking into consideration all stakeholders. If we are able to make concerted efforts in this direction, the day is not far, when designers in India will be fulfilling the dreams of billions of customers across the world through innovative designs.

C V Raman

Executive Director (Engineering)
Maruti Suzuki India Ltd.