An interesting design episode has been reported by the online magazine Scroll here.
Government of India, confronted by a petition in the Madras High Court, has claimed that the use of the Devnagari numerals on the new note design of Rs 2000 is nothing but a “design” feature.
Pic Courtesy : Scroll
By this, the government probably means that this is an aesthetic element that bears no functional value. This is a definition of ‘design’ that the Centre has to revisit.
All frivolous forms are not design.
Design is not frivolous.
There’s more to design than just aesthetics.
The 8th November de-monetisation, has by now affected very individual in India. The day also saw the launch of the new Rs 2000 notes, all pink and new. While the whole issue of de-monetising is being discussed threadbare, I would like to focus on the designerly issues that surround it.
The design of the Rs 2000 note is badly done. From the choice of colours, to the size and use of mis-matching fonts and the decorative elements used make one want to scream. It is really pointless to blame anybody as the note is the most gaudy and amateur work, I’ve seen in the recent past.
Network18, has explicitly put out what’s wrong with the design. The design community has predictably panned the new design.
Pic: Network18creative ( Copyright acknowledged)
But there’s more to design than graphics and aesthetics. Design thinking in handling the issue could have eased the whole process and made the transition smoother, without pain points. The issues are systemic and needed a holistic professional like a designer to deal with it.
By filling Rs 100 notes in each ATM, the government has dramatically brought down available cash. The new Rs 2000 has been designed in a different size requiring the 2 lakh ATMs to be re-calibrated! It is mandatory for cash vehicles to have an armed gunman, who are few in numbers, resulting in fewer vehicles carrying cash to the ATM. The old notes are being exchanged for new higher denomination notes, thereby increasing the need for more small change. This is clearly a case of systemic design failure, something a designer is trained to handle. Designers are trained to do human-centric design and this is one area they could have contributed.
The government, meanwhile is busy inaugurating another new NID at Kurukshetra this week.
It would make a lot of sense, if they understand the capabilities of a designer and use the capabilities for better design of products and systems for governance.
Until then, the design community will always strike a discordant note.