Panel 4: What Do We Need to Do To Build an Innovation Society?

It has become a tradition at various editions of Design Public for us to use the final session of the day to reflect on the many idea that have come out in various panels and breakout sessions and to ask what now needs to be done. What can we do after the event is over? What steps do we need to undertake before we re-congregate? Members of the concluding panels had the opportunity to review the outcomes of groups working on very diverse challenges and to observe broad similarities as well as specific differences. Panelists included M.P. Ranjan, Watraut Ritter, Jeby Cherian, Arun Maira, Samir K. Brahmachari, Niyati Mehta, Bhairavi Jani, Divya Datta and Aditya Dev Sood.

The possible areas for collaborative action emerging from this Design Public include: the further activities and plans of the Bihar Innovation Lab, including its proposed Lab-School for Innovation, the conceptualization of a Startup Accelerator to specifically focus on India’s grand challenges, the creation of a think-tank or high-level working group to create Smarter Cities in India, and the further definition of innovation networks that can bind existing public, private, social and academic institutions.

Arun Maira began his observations by noting various scales of programmatic action: we need to understand innovation better; we need to understand how innovation applies to different spheres of activity ; we need to communicate this agenda more widely; we need to plan for the next Design Public in Mumbai. All of these different commitments are legitimate, he said, and they can all be held at the same time by same or different persons. The question for him, he said, was whether we had discovered the right way of talking with each other and with those with whom we might want to engage.

Eswaran Subramanian responded from the audience that he felt Design could be characterized as a form of propositional argumentation. M.P. Ranjan was reminded of the experiments by design thinkers in post-war Kuln, where they sought to experiment with the very formats of collective decision-making to see if they couldn’t create new and more creative ways of collaborating and designing together.

As it turned out, we ended up having an extraordinarily rarefied, almost ethereal conversation about design and innovation as kinds of conversation. Many programmatic challenges and opportunities have emerged from DP and they remain to be addressed, a task to which must now all contribute.

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