DESIGN FOR THE TASTE-MAKERS
System oriented social innovation for improving the living condition of salt pan labourers
The Indian social construct is a complex structure comprising various social, cultural, societal, regional, and political elements that are interconnected to each other. The social construct which was primarily occupation-based is still effective in certain areas and occupations of India. One of these occupations is of salt pan laborer. Food being one of the most important necessities for survival, there needs no second thought to understand the importance of Salt. Just like other food industries, the salt manufacturing industry too is moving towards complete automation with minimal human intervention.
The project aims to understand the ecosystem in and around the production of salt, use design thinking to flourish the living condition of the labourers working in these salt fields, improve their working conditions to care about their physical parts in the self-involved work culture of producing salt, understanding the socio-economic and cultural condition prevailing in it and build a self-sustainable model for the people involved in the ecosystem enabling a well-deserved return on their efforts. Using the Co-design approach and participatory design approach as tools, NGOs working in the area, the community leaders, and the laborers working in the salt fields were involved in bringing design interventions.
The target of this project is to not only make the profession of salt pan labor a respectful one but also to make this profession recognizable. This would ensure cultural sustainability and justifiable remuneration pertaining to the physical and mental efforts invested in the process of producing salt looking at the psycho-social, economic, and work environment conditions.
DESIGN CHALLENGES AND INSIGHTS
Looking at the scenario with a systemic approach helps to break the boundary of possibilities for bringing about intervention.
Repeated visiting of the salt pan areas, shadowing their daily routine activities, and living a few days of their life at their home, gave a clear understanding of the different layers of the conditions prevailing in the area.
The caste and religious system coupled with the age-old stereotypes contributed a major role in the present condition of the labourers. A design intervention encompassing socio-economic factors would be necessary for bringing about a social change.
The problems figured out initially were as per the paradigm built due to their upbringing in a different context and be very much possible that the problems that they figured out might not be the real problems that they were facing. The participatory workshop with the labor family and other stakeholders helped us to understand the true problems that were concerning to them. A clear hierarchy of the intensity of the problem could be mapped.
Chota Kutch - Field Visit Documentary
Kid's Workshop Documentary
Presented at various institutions globally