Prime Minister Manmohan Singh addressed the gathering at the foundation stone laying ceremony of the National Institute of Design (NID) at Jorhat Campus in Assam today. Expressing his happiness at laying the foundation stone of the institute, the Prime Minister said that this was the second institute of its kind in India after the first National Institute of Design had been set up in Ahmedabad fifty years ago. “The need for design intervention for Indian products and services was first visualized by the then Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. He actively encouraged the setting up of the National Institute of Design at Ahmedabad. Starting from a small campus in 1961, the institute today is a multiple campus organization with a strong national and international profile,” he said. “It conducts graduate level diploma programs in eight design disciplines and sixteen sector specific post graduate programs in diverse domains. It has also set up state of the art infrastructural facilities like the Knowledge Management Centre, Information Technology Center, and Design Vision Center.” Manmohan Singh stated that the new NID at Jorhat is a timely and welcome initiative. “The National Institute of Design has evolved as the touchstone of good design education in India while continuing its efforts for spreading knowledge of traditional Indian design across the world. But one institute cannot serve the growing and variegated needs of our nation,” he said. The Prime Minister said that he was happy that the institute had been set up in Assam, a state with which he had a special bond. “I represent Assam in Parliament and to me coming here is like coming home,” he said. He also informed that the government had always been alive to the special needs of Assam and other north east states and a number of projects for rapid development of Assam had been initiated. He stated that he was happy to note that the comprehensive project for protecting the Rohmoria area and the Majuli Island from erosion is to be completed soon. The Prime Minister stated, “It is design that converts creative ideas into tangible products and services for society at large. It can play an important role in economic, societal and industrial development. Its importance in creating opportunity for economic development and providing jobs is to be emphasized.” He said that the aim of good design should be the improvement in the quality of life through products and services which can be accessed by people in general. “In the Indian context design should also be a tool for inclusive development. Value addition through innovation in design can play a pivotal role in enhancing the competitiveness of both manufacturing and service industries,” he said. He further added that “Specific to the North East, better industrial product design can contribute to the development of Micro Small and Medium Enterprises by enhancing product utility and by helping in translating new ideas into new products.” Stating that design had been a traditional skill in India, Manmohan Singh said, “It gives a unique Indian aesthetic value to our arts and crafts as well as our festivals and historical monuments. However, in the process of rapid industrialization, some of our traditional skills have been lost. But, with the opening up of our country to global competition, the traditional design skills are once again finding a central role in differentiating our products. Indeed this could provide a competitive advantage to our producers.” “Therefore, our design initiatives should sustain and strengthen our traditional knowledge, skills and capabilities while also being sensitive to global demands and requirements,” he inferred. He informed that the government had taken significant initiatives to enhance the design innovation and application framework cutting across all sectors and disciplines, including revamping the Designs Act and setting up Design Business Incubators. He hoped that the steps that had been taken by the government would ensure that the rights of creative people are protected and talented people are trained in innovative processes and lead to the creation of intellectual wealth. Towards the end of his speech, the Prime Minister stated that the NID at Jorhat should leverage on the traditional craftsmanship of the region and help in giving a new life to the traditional arts and crafts in this area. “At the same time the institute should come out with eco-friendly design for adoption by the people of northeast for modern industrial goods so that the modernization and preservation of the ecosystem can go hand in hand,” he said. “The promotion of the textile sector in the region as well as the initiatives under the National Bamboo Mission should also get support from this institute,” he concluded, wishing that the new institute would be of great benefit to both the region and the country.