Wednesday, July 18, 2012

...taking the scheme to the northeastern states

The 18th Orientation Programme of the Design Clinic Scheme for MSMEs was held at Agartala, Tripura on Saturday, 7th July, 2012. The programme was organized with the support of IL&FS, Agartala and was attended by over 100 enthusiastic participants that included members from different industry associations, entrepreneurs, officials from government organizations and students and faculty members from engineering colleges  in and around Agartala. Hon'ble Minister for Industries & Commerce, Govt. of Tripura, Shri Jitendra Chaudhury inaugurated the programme. Shri. Pradyumna Vyas, director, National Institute of Design, NID, Ahmedabad, Prof. P.K.Bose, director, National Institute of Technology, NIT, Agartala, Shri Pravin Agarwal, Director of Industries & Commerce, Govt. of Tripura were amongst the dignitaries present during the inaugural session. The speakers highlighted the need to connect the rich tradition of crafts in the region of northeast to the contemporary markets. The hon'ble minister lauded the efforts made in this directions through the scheme and assured necessary support required to take the scheme to the needy  industries and entrepreneurs of Tripura. A detailed presentation on different components of the Design Clinic Scheme with its status and case studies of some of the outcomes of the scheme was also made during the programme. Official of the MSME Di office, Agartala  made a presentation on other NMCP components/ schemes and support available to the micro, small and medium enterprises. It was then followed by interaction and question-answer session with the members present.

It was heartening to see the enthusiasm and involvement of the entire team of IL&FS, Agartala  under the guidance of its director, Shri. Agarwal and the senior manager, IL&FS, Shri. Panda to make the programme a huge success. IL&FS has been closely working with the entrepreneurs of Tripura and this active involvement has helped them develop good contacts and relations with them. The IL&FS team  thus personally contacted them  to explain the benefits of the scheme and to invite them to the programme. Over 30 members from different media; both from the press as well as the TV attended  the press meet organised on 6th July, previous day of the programme,  and they helped us take the message to the industries and to the public in general. The event was thus well covered by the media before the orientation programme and also after the programme.

The Design Awareness Programmes, DAPs proposed to be organized for various entrepreneurs and industries of Tripura will certainly help identify various opportunities for improving their existing set of products, processes and also for improving systems and a businesses as a hole. Besides this, the programmes will help bring different specialist organisations working in Tripura such as IL&FS, Bamboo & Cane Development Institute, BCDI, Agartala, National Institute of Technology, NIT,  Agartala to come together to discuss issues and measures and to develop contextual solutions/ suggestions for these industries. It is thereby expected to help convert the Tripura Bamboo Mission vision "to make Tripura as the hub of bamboo based sustainable micro, small and medium industries in the country by mobilising the local natural and human resources and enable structured growth in the sector by strong institution building and market linkage" a reality. These institutes can then take up the opportunities identified through the programme for their further design and development process. Many of the solutions / directions for these industries need appropriate techno-design solutions, combining design and technology inputs and these workshops would be best suited for these interactions and further actions. DAPs in Tripura would certainly help develop a platform for constant  and continues interaction, collaboration and exchange of views and ideas amongst its entrepreneurs and design experts at the local level, thereby achieving one of the important objectives of the scheme.

Followed by this orientation programme at Agartala, a meeting was held with the hon'ble minister, Industries & Commerce, govt. of Mizoram on  monday, 9th July 2012 to discuss and explain the details of the design clinic scheme and to explore the possibilities of state govt. support for organising DAPs in the state of Mizoram. Mizoram has good craft based micro industry clusters engaged in wood furniture, bamboo and cane products, garments, tin-smithy, etc. Two design sensitization seminars as part of the scheme have already been organized in Mizoram, one for the Baktwang wood furniture cluster and for the Beirobi bamboo based product cluster. Followed by these seminars Design Awareness Programmes have also been undertaken for both these clusters. A student design project is currently underway and one of the final year PG student of Toy & Game Design programme from NID, is developing range of toys for  Baktwang cluster. These initiatives were initiated through Indian Institute of Entrepreneurship, IIE, Guwahati, which is already working with these clusters.  

 The zonal center to implement the scheme in different states of north-eastern region has been set up at IIE, Guwahati. The center has by now organized 25 design sensitization seminars for different clusters spread across the north-eastern states. 10 Design Awareness Programmes have already been completed while 11 programmes are currently in various stages of their progress. Through these programmes we have covered different craft based micro industry clusters ranging from blacksmiths, jewellery, handloom, terracotta bell metal, brass metal crafts etc.  These programmes have helped bring the designer/s to the doorsteps of these industries to interact, discuss, identify various opportunities and develop suggestions/solutions to improve and refine  their existing products, processes and/ or the systems.

A meeting was held with the IIE, Guwahati officials on 11th July, 2012 to further plan out implementation strategy for other clusters in the northeastern states. The seminars and the awareness programmes completed so far, have helped develop the much needed interest for design and have also helped identify different opportunities, some of which can be taken up as design projects. The scheme reimburses  60%  expenditure for  the design projects and 75%  of the expenditure for the design awareness programmes.  Efforts are being made to develop options for the needy MSME units to get financial support to cover full or part  of the contribution required. In this context, the team also had a meeting with the CMD, NEDFi, Guwahati to explore the possibility of NEDFi support for design projects approved for the clusters and/ or individual MSME units under the scheme and from the north eastern region.

There are varieties of rich traditional craft based micro industries in the northeastern states that can greatly benefit through the scheme to connect their available skills and resources to the contemporary needs and markets. The unique methodology of the scheme helps bring the designer/s to the doorsteps of these industries and entrepreneurs to explore contextual solutions for refinement and improvement of their existing set-ups, processes and products  for immediate results and benefits for these industries. Last two years of scheme implementation in the north eastern states have created a much needed platform for long term design intervention that can help bring major changes in terms of value addition and repositioning of their products.