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Prof Chaubey fascinates Kashmiri students

12:45 AM May 11, 2024 IST | Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat
prof chaubey fascinates kashmiri students

Design Thinking and innovative practices helps in achieving the goals like having sustainable energy and fossil fuel free transportation system. These tools can drive transformative change, fostering creative and sustainable solutions.


With the increasing need for sustainable solutions, the concepts of innovation in sustainable energy, sustainable transportation, and climate change have become intrinsically linked. I have written about Design Thinking and Good Governance and linked these two aspects.


We need to understand that design thinking doesn’t necessarily mean fashion designing, interior designing or architectural design but this is more than that. Design Thinking and its application is essential in every field of life.


During my visit to Anant National University Ahmedabad, India’s First Design X University, in January this year, I had requested Prof Anunaya Chaubey the Provost (Vice Chancellor) to visit Kashmir so that our students would learn more about Design Thinking and link this with Climate Action especially. Prof Chaubey is a well-known artist and academic in the fields of literature and art history. A self-taught painter, illustrator and animator, his works explore the individual and communal worlds – mundane yet layered and subtly textured.


Many of his paintings are to be found both in public and private collections all around the world. He has taught courses on art appreciation connecting art with science, economics, entrepreneurship, environment, media and journalism at Salzburg Media Academy, Young India Fellowship, Naropa Fellowship, Vedica Scholars Programme, Harappa Education.


Last month Prof Chaubey came to Kashmir along with Dr Nagarajan who teaches in Climate School of the same university. Prof Chaubey visited several institutions in Srinagar, Shopian, Budgam and few other places and it was heartening to see school students interacting with him so passionately as he linked Design Thinking and Climate Action.


Finding alternatives to Pesticides


When Prof Anunaya Chaubey and his colleague Dr Naga Chetanaya landed in Srinagar on April 22nd early morning we straightway drove towards Zainapora Shopian. I had organised a special interaction between students of class 10th with Prof Chaubey and Dr Naga. In fact this was my first visit to National Innovation Public School-NIPS Zainapora Shopian as I had heard a lot about this school. After the interaction between Prof Chaubey, Dr Naga and students of NIPS Shopian, I think I have done justice with this place as hardly any University VC / Provost would have ever visited a school in Shopian or its adjoining areas

When the students were discussing climate change and heavy downpour in Dubai, the discussion shifted towards excessive use of pesticides in apple orchards in Shopian and other parts of Kashmir. The students were shocked to learn about the fallouts of the pesticides.

These kids are bright enough to understand the impact of pesticides but as this issue is neither discussed or debated in our rural societies, the people at large don’t even take this as a great threat for human health, animal health, climate and biodiversity.

I believe Prof Chaubey’s visit to NIPS Zainapora Shopian has made a remarkable impact on the young minds as they would definitely start thinking critically about excessive use of pesticides. Their passion, creativity, and willingness to challenge the status quo will make them catalysts for change.

Prof Chaubey stressed upon the students to find alternatives to pesticides through Design Thinking. Infact Prof Chaubey invited the students to his campus in winter along with teachers so that they would learn more about Design Thinking and its role in Climate Action.

Keeping traditions alive

While interacting with students at Birla Open Minds School-BOMIS Pampore Prof Chaubey said that unless we don’t experiment and experience things we cannot give tangible solutions to address the problems. Prof Chaubey reiterated that Design Thinking was like a problem-solving approach that focuses on finding innovative and sustainable solutions which are based on compassion and empathy. He said that Design Thinking was part of National Education Policy-NEP wherein focus is given on critical thinking. He added that design thinking puts human needs and experiences at the forefront, emphasizing empathy, creativity, and collaboration.

I myself addressed the students at BOMIS Pampore and discussed our rich cultural traditions, especially our food. I quoted an example of our traditional chefs ( Wazas) from Srinagar’s old city. In fact the said locality is known as Wazpora – (Locality of Wazas). These traditional chefs of Wazpora Srinagar were known for their cooking skills but as time passed their children didn’t opt for this job. The reason was that society saw this job being inferior?

Now we have very few chefs in Wazpora as the new generation isn’t ready to opt this as a career and the people who would work as helpers for these Waza’s 20 to 25 years back are now professional chefs. With the new innovations wazwan is relished in Dubai, Saudi, UK and US but the only thing missing is that those families who had kept this tradition alive have chosen some other profession which isn’t a good thing at all. But at the same time there are many families who keep their tradition and profession alive and one of them is Farooq Ahmad Mir who belongs to Khaiwan Narwara Srinagar.

Farooq Ahmad Mir a national awardee pashmina shawl weaver is a 5th generation weaver and his sons Majid , Altaf and Fayaz have kept their tradition alive even as they are well educated. Prof Chaubey interacted with Mir family while returning from Shopian and asked them to hold a live demonstration of Kani Shawl weaving at Ahmedabad in winter.


The National Education Policy 202 encourages students to think critically and creatively. Jammu & Kashmir Govt needs to create a mass awareness on Design Thinking and especially hold workshops for school teachers. The urban planners, architects, engineers and environmental experts should essentially be imparted training on this subject so that we are able to tackle the climate crisis especially.

The Delhi Public School Budgam has decided to start this subject soon and they would seek assistance from Anant National University-ANU. I would suggest the J&K Govt, especially the J & K Board of School Education-BOSE to introduce Design Thinking as a subject in schools so that our students start thinking critically and provide solutions to society.

I would appeal to school managements to ensure their students are imparted with such an education that would give solutions to the society rather than imparting education which is for self survival. This is what was the crux of Prof Chaubey’s visit to Kashmir and his interactions with college and school students. 

Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat is an

Acumen Fellow