Design & People

Design & People identify how design can intervene to make a contribution to the ongoing efforts to improve the lives of people disadvantaged by war, disability, and political and environmental conditions. We unite and encourage graphic, industrial and architectural designers to use their experience and skills towards social and humanitarian projects. Mission: Design For People In Need.

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Campaign: Free Sulak Sivaraksa (2017)
"YOU CANNOT TEACH HISTORY, IF ALL KINGS HAVE TO BE GOOD"

DESIGN & People Co-Founder Sethu Das in conversation with 84-year old Sulak Sivaraksa, a former monk turned socially-engaged Buddhist social activist and economist from Thailand has reinterpreted almost everything — from classic Buddhist precepts to modern-day education.

Affectionately called 'Ajarn' or 'teacher' by the Thai people, Sulak Sivaraksa does not mind being an outspoken critic of the Thai monarchic system. He pays utmost attention to the actions of some the most powerful political and spiritual leaders in the world, he is usually surrounded with. He had no remorse criticising the Dalai Lama of Tibet when he saw a photograph of him holding a can of Coca-Cola and reminding him about the human and environmental suffering indirectly caused by the US multi-national giant. He had no regret questioning Thich Nhat Hanh, Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist for restricting his Buddhist talks to the rich and elite of France. He does not mind correcting and criticising Burmese Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi when she makes political blunders. This was possible for Sulak Sivaraksa simply because of his firm conviction and practice of Kalyanamitta, the Buddhist concept of intimate friendship, and relationship with true and trustworthy friends.

One reason that makes Sulak Sivaraksa a unique figure in the Kingdom of Thailand would certainly be his continued defiance against the military regime and the centuries-old monarchy. Often called a 'rat' and a 'criminal' by the establishment, Sulak was even put behind bars four times, for 'defaming' the Thai monarchy. His writings and critical speeches made him go into exile twice — in 1976 and 1991. Twice nominated for the Noble Peace Prize, Sulak is the recipient of 1995 Right Livelihood Award "for his vision, activism and spiritual commitment in the quest for a development process that is rooted in democracy, justice and cultural integrity."

+ Full Conversation (English)
+ Original story published by Pachakuthira Magazine November 2017 edition (PDF | Malayalam | 4.38MB):  Download

Campaign: SlapDeals.com (2014)
SNAPDEAL.COM: THE GREAT INDIAN E-ROBBERY

Pressure Group Design & People sues Snapdeal.com and launches 'SlapDeals.com' campaign to educate first-time online buyers. The group is also filing a Public-Interest Litigation (PIL) under Article 32 of the Indian Constitution demanding a ban on portals engaged in fraudulent practices in India.

THE recent edition of Forbes India magazine stated — "Flexibility and nimbleness have marked rapid growth of Snapdeal.com in online trade". Design & People investigates if there is a 'third factor' that contributes to the massive financial growth of Snapdeal.com, a portal which began its entrepreneurial journey only two thousand days ago.

Design & People was recently approached by two young online buyers to explain how they were cheated of their hard-earned money by New Delhi-based Snapdeal.com. When we explained about how a business model which has a customer base of 20 million could make 'few errors with deliveries', we were asked to do a simple Google search for the words "Snapdeal Fraud". The results were astonishing and even shocking! Snapdeal.com invites millions of complaints and abuses by its own customers who were cheated by this 'award-winning' shopping portal. You may try this yourself to find out what Snapdeal.com does to its first-time customers in order to meet the sales target of US$1 billion by the end of 2015 — as predicted by its Wharton Business School-educated CEO.

In order to check claims made by the young customers, Design & People decides to purchase a product from Snapdeal.com — a Symmtronics Android Smartphone, probably the only Made in India mobile marketed in the country. The smartphone comes at a discount price of Rs 3099/-. Since most products sold in Snapdeal.com are inferior quality Made in China ones, Design & People chose Symmtronics in order to continue its legacy of boycotting Made in China products to protest China's rights violations in Tibet and in East Turkestan.

Online portals such as Snapdeal.com commit frauds in the most tactful ways — by teaming up with courier companies and resellers for 'strategic delay deliveries' and by manipulating records online. Though many online shopping portals may appear to be on an 'auto-pilot mode', it is well understood that selected employees with clear instructions from the top management are directly or indirectly involved in malpractices — taking advantage of the ignorance of online buyers, mostly first-time buyers. You may note that in March 2013, Directors and Chief Operations Officers of online shopping portals have been arrested in New Delhi for allegedly duping people by taking money from them for articles which were never delivered.

Individual buyers are not the only victims. Two prominent personal-computer makers recently issued an advisory cautioning consumers in India about buying products from Snapdeal.com as it is neither an authorised reseller nor known for selling genuine products. "What we have noticed in the past few months is that some of these sites like Snapdeal.com, largely due to a marketplace kind of a set up, there are a lot of resellers that have cropped up, which are selling at very low predatory prices. These we believe may or may not be an authorised or genuine products," says Director of an internationally-known PC manufacturing firm.

Snapdeal is the Great Indian E-robbery of our times! Act now to stop corporate crimes! Spread the word!

"Largest corporations are training the brightest Indian minds to be corrupt and dishonest, so that they can continue their legacy of unethical business practices that harm our people, environment and society. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is no license to anyone to indulge in corporate crimes."
Sethu Das, Co-founder, Design & People

THE SNAPDEAL MODUS OPERANDI

1) Market Culture: Snapdeal works on a commission-basis. It creates nothing, it delivers nothing. It is only a commission-agent which employs about 800 people below the age of 26. The firm does not use the term 'Employee' but 'Team Member' — denying rights and benefits to an 'employee'. The Snapdeal website claims that it is the largest online 'marketplace' which sells one saree in every two minutes and one footware in every 30 seconds. But there is no word about delivery. Snapdeal.com violates one of the core aspects of the Six Sigma concept — "Defect" — by "Failing to deliver what the customer wants".

2) Other People's Money: Imagine the number of individual customers buying products from Snapdeal.com on a daily basis. The company figures say it has about 20,000,000+ registered users as of February 2013. Even if half of its registered users buy one product a month worth Rs 1/-, the company could still make a revenue of Rs 10,000,000 every month — with no investment on infrastructure or people. This is made possible with the company's nexus with unreliable and corrupt 'merchents' across the country. 50pc of the complaints on Snapdeal.com you get to read in the Internet is about non-delivery of products and refund-related issues. Snapdeal.com is one of the biggest violators when it comes to refunds, compensations, unless you cancel your product online or drag the company to a court. We can imagine what would be the fate of thousands and thousands of ordinary Indian shoppers who buy their desired products from this 'award winning' portal. Even when you are reading this, someone, somewhere is getting cheated of their hard-earned savings.

3) Delay Tactics: Is 'delay caused' a situation or a tactic? Delay can never be a 'situation' in today's modernised world. We are living at a time when shopping portals like Amazon.com is deploying unmanned aerial drone vehicles in a project named "Prime Air" to deliver the packages into customers' hands in less than 30 minutes. Delay can only be a "strategy", nothing else. This reminds us of a 'delay strategy' of a private telephone service provider in Mumbai which used to send telephone bills to its thousands of customers late leaving no space for the customer to pay the bill on time. The 'strategic delay' in sending bills to customers was finally exposed by its own customers. The 'delay' makes the customers pay a fine amount of Rs 50/- after the due date — helping the telecom company to earn millions of rupees in cash.

And delays are not delays all the time. Delay means 'Profit' in corporate terms. A simple calculation might prove that. Imagine 10,000,000+ products purchased by shoppers (Half of Snapdeal.com 20,000,000+ registered users) for an average cost of Rs 3000/- are being delayed by 25 days. Who benefits from the 'strategic delay' — growing enterprises like Snapdeal, which has the liberty of illegally keeping a huge sum of interest-free cash (Rs 3,000/- x 10,000,000 users) for an unlimited period — which is usually spent on business expansion and strategic investments. And who empowers such companies — people like us who go after discounted products.

This illegal and unethical business practice should end.

A DESIGN & PEOPLE PUBLIC AWARENESS INITIATIVE

Campaign: Design & People Green Initiatives (2014)
"PAPER IS PRETTIER"

PLASTIC, described as "a threat greater than an atom bomb" by the Supreme Court of India is everywhere. Plastic dominates our lives and poses a great threat to our fragile environment and all the inhabitants of planet earth. Unless there is a global ban on the use and manufacturing of plastic for temporary use, the next generation would certainly face risks beyond our imagination. This is bound to happen.

The most fatal menace the modern world face is the increasing pollution from plastic. The plastic items that we conveniently throw away after use will not degrade or decompose for at least 5000 years, all the while poisoning our soil, our water and our air. There are hundreds of initiatives organised all across India by individuals, organisations and institutions to bring an end to the plastic culture of our society. All such pure initiatives of the past were defeated simply because of the acts of our governments, decision-makers and designers who collaborate and work closely with plastic Industry; manufacturers of plastic; multi-national companies whose agenda is to dump toxic materials in developing nations and the educated section of the society which has no hesitation using or later dumping plastic in our backyards. Our cruelty on our environment is also extended to our oceans. The United Nations recently reported that 46,000 pieces of plastic are estimated to be afloat on every square mile of our oceans.

Design & People implements a strong 'No Plastic Policy' in all its projects and programmes. Our commitment is also our message on environment protection. We discourage the manufacture, use and sale of plastic and promote the use of products made of cloth, jute, paper or other bio-degradable materials. Design & People works closely with Paper Trail, a Kochi-based not-for-profit organisation which produces bags from used newspapers, an initiative that helps financially-backward women to make a living. We urge you to buy "Paper Is Prettier" bags from Design & People and replace plastic bags at your home and at work. Use them over and over again, and thus maximise the utilisation of the resources of Mother Earth.

Support "Paper is Prettier" Project.

+ Paper is Prettier: Photos

A DESIGN & PEOPLE GREEN INITIATIVE

Campaign: Aadhaar ka Anaadar (2014)
PEOPLE AGAINST SURVEILLANCE

IN June 2009, Hon Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh's Council appointed Dr Nandan Nilekani as the Chairman of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) with the rank and status of a Cabinet Minister — probably the only 'Cabinet Minister' who has not taken a formal oath abiding by the Constitution of India.

The key task of the UIDAI Chairman was to advise and implement the UID Scheme in India in the next five years. In less than two years in office, Nandan Nilekani became the centre of criticism — his own colleagues from Planning Commission and Home Ministry to ordinary citizens. Former Defence Minister Jashwant Singh even called Nilekani's scheme a "madcap scheme". The UID scheme which already spent Rs 3,500 cr and is expected to spend another Rs 100,000 cr for the final implementation of the scheme — all from poor taxpayer's money. Introduced as a proof of identity, the Aadhaar card was later projected as a card of 'benefits'. The result — denied benefits to millions of Indian citizens who walked the dusty roads and struggled several months to get hold of their 'benefit' card.

The UID Scheme is one of the biggest scams of the century — introduced and implemented by a public servant who's supposed to 'guide' the Hon Prime Minister and the nation. If implemented, India will be the only country in the world to have such a unique identification number which will ultimately challenge the civil and constitutional rights of Indian citizens. After September 11 attack on the World Trade Centre and Pentagon in USA, there were attempts in all countries to tighten security in order to benefit Uncle Sam. The Unique Identification Number is nothing but an initiative to create a data-base for national security, and Aadhaar data-base would be eminently suited for that purpose. Apparently your Aadhaar card is linked with the National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) and the National Population Register (NPR). Since bio-metric based identification systems are rejected by the entire world, the Unique Identification Number launched in India can only be compared to 'People's Card Index' or Volkskartei, introduced by the murderous Nazi Germany in 1939 to control the German population and to punish the non-abiding Jews.

In February 2014 Dr Nandan Nilekani shocked the nation by deciding to resign as the Chairman of the ambitious UIDAI project much before completing his term to take up his 'next assignment' — contesting the Lok Sabha election from South Bangalore on a Congress ticket, a party he never joined! Soon after the launch of his political career from Bangalore, Nandan Nilekani declared that he and his wife have assets worth Rs 7,700 crore!

Design & People launches "Aadhaar ka Anaadar" campaign in South Bangalore, the constituency chosen by Nandan Nilekani to contest the Lok Sabha election.

+ Aadhaar ka Anaadar: Poster | Report

A DESIGN & PEOPLE PUBLIC AWARENESS INITIATIVE

Design & People
Design & People, PO Box 16674, Mumbai 400050 Email: solidarity@designandpeople.org