Hypothesis versus Reality – Field Work to Bihar

A different view

A different view

 

Field work is always an eye-opener for some of us who function from closed spaces. It widens the general approach towards design thinking and products and services. Any aspect of design is practically useless without a customer-oriented approach. Any product or service that is not customer-oriented has no validity in the real world. Design becomes invaluable when it is based on end-user approach.

It was on 27th June that we set out for field work and analysis to Bihar in context of PIT or Patient Identity. It is the start of monsoon in Bihar and it is lush and green with dense foliage that covers the earth like a green chenille carpet. Litti-chokha in the rains, mud houses and the stark reality of the poor and underprivileged in Bihar are some experiences that affect your thinking for a lifetime. During the recent visit to this region, we saw firsthand how research regarding patient identity can make a difference to regions where education level and awareness is low.

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A caption on the wall

The first stop was Patna where time was spent on visually mapping out the layout and the sources of influences in the city. Advertisements, signboards, temples and other circles of influence were paid close attention to. Meetings with artists, both contemporary and otherwise, gave us more insight into the possible influences around. Having grown up in Bihar, it wasn’t very new to me. But the harsh reality of the slow rate of development in the place is painful.

A sculpture portraying mother and child

A sculpture portraying mother and child

An aspect that caught my attention is how the name of the child is almost unimportant in the villages. This is in contrast to the people in metropolitan cities who plan everything, right from pre-birth to retirement. They have names for everything, be it their children or their pets. Planning is on a short term basis in Indian villages. Planning is relevant as far as the agricultural cycles are concerned, but the child and its future are not really things that are planned. The problem of double-names and naming the child on convenience basis are widespread. This leads to a different name for the child on the MCH (Mother and Child Healthcare) cards. Naming ceremonies like chattis and namkaran do not deter the villagers to put a different name on medical certificates. Interviews were conducted and the results regarding the role of names were pretty much the same. Any product or service that is designed should have this aspect as part of their design process.

The child's name is selected by random people at birth. This is put in the card and edited later at convenience.

The child’s name is selected by random people at birth. This is put in the card and edited later at convenience.

The visit to Bhagalpur, which was the second stop,  comprised of research and observation and also gave us more insight into what works for the receivers and service givers – not just in terms of the product, but also in terms of quality versus quantity. This is design for society – not just design for the sake of design.

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