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'We're not a country of snake charmers'

India Future of Change initiative co-founder Sudhir Horo insists their nation branding exercise is not about jingoism, but solving serious issues through competition and collaboration. And the whole world's invited to participate 

For Amit Shahi and Sudhir John Horo, India may not be shining, but the duo wants the world to think India, talk India, and hopefully, solve India.


The international winner of the India Future of Change poster
design contest was made by Frederic Diard of Paris. "My poster
draws upon the famous method of predicting the future from a
coffee cup reading to convey India as tomorrow's global leader,"
he said. Pic courtesy: India Future of Change


Founders of a communication design and strategy firm ImageWorks, Shahi (48), a former marketing professional and Horo (35), a graphic designer by training, launched an initiative last September to mobilise students, entrepreneurs, academicians and corporations to, as their tagline goes, 'compete, collaborate and co-create the future with India'.

Called India Future of Change (IFC), the initiative will roll out over five years, at the end of which, says Horo, they "will review the impact (they) have made." It is supported by the Ministry of External Affairs.

"Over the next five years, we intend putting together a body of knowledge that can be showcased at international forums, as the achievement of a collaborative effort of people from across geographies, developing solutions for India and the world," said Horo, project director, IFC.

Some of the issues they have addressed through panel discussions in Indian and foreign university campuses such as ISB Hyderabad, London Business School and INSEAD in Singapore include climate change, healthcare and the role of the private sector in addressing the unmet needs of Indian citizens.

Besides panel discussions, IFC held a series of contests in different channels that invited students to address the country's concerns and partnered with institutions including the Industrial Design Centre, IIT Bombay, Design In India, a consortium of designers based in Mumbai, and Centre for Innovation, Incubation and Entrepreneurship IIM Ahmedabad among others.

Held over four months in 2010, the photography, poster design, business plan, product design and essay writing contests received registration requests from over 2,500 students in each category.

"Students from 70 countries participated," Horo said.

On November 26 and 27, short-listed teams in business plan and product design contests took part at a function called Indialogues in New Delhi, which was webcast to 40 countries. The national and international teams met jury members and presented their ideas and product prototypes. 

 "The jury members present said that the winning business plan -- presented by a team comprising students from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Be'er Sheva University and Israeli Technion Institute, Tel Aviv -- developed should be in the market," said Horo.

The impetus behind the initiative said Horo was to kickstart a conversation about India that went beyond the Western stereotype as the land of snake charmers and Taj Mahal.

"We're not engineering an image of India based on jingoistic nationalism. Our intent is to foster collaboration among people to harness the entrepreneurial spirit of the youth in India and overseas," said Horo.
Read about the innovative business plans and design concepts presented by the students at http://www.indialogues.in/#s

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