Indian Futures

Craft-cultural speculations of alternative currencies

A design fiction project envsioning an alternate Indian currency, the Karma Coin was an attempt to visualize how emerging technologies might be made culturally relevant.

My first foray into Discursive Design, this project was conducted under Paolo Cardini as a part of the Global Futures Lab, a Rhode Island School of Design initiative.

The intent was to provoke reflection and discussion about our cultural values and how they shape our use of products and technology.

Praveen walked back from his office.

It was a warm July evening and something in the air made him take a detour from his normal path. Walking down the lane away from the main road, he now entered a quite complex of houses lined with tall Ashoka trees on either side of the road.

Parked at the gate of one of the houses, his eyes fell upon a rarity that he didn’t expect to see in his wildest dreams. A Royal Enfield h-65, one of only two in the world, a true beauty of the past, stood there with the keys in ignition, beckoning him closer.

At that moment Praveen knew that it had to be his. He had spent the past year on a fantastic Karma score with not a single crime in his log but the thought that now hit his mind could potentially change that. The next few minutes were a blur and in no time was Praveen headed home, this time on a bike.

Despite expecting it, the cool coin still managed to surprise him. It wasn’t the first time but it had been a while. He waited anxiously for it to stop. When it finally did, he felt like a weight had lifted off. His mind was clearer now. As the wind hit his face and he glided along the road, Praveen noticed the flowers, the decorations, the lights. It was Diwali night. Tonight was the night of good deeds.

He raced towards the city circle to check the scoreboard, his heart filled with a new sense of foreboding. The digits were slowly starting to form now and Praveen watched as the new number glowed – 00000000001, and below it were 00978358417.

One bad deed on an auspicious day, only his own.

The Karma Coin was exhibited in Global Futures Symposium in Rome, in 2018.

It has been featured in Bruce and Stephanie Tharpe’s book ‘Discursive Design: Critical, Speculative, and Alternative Things’.

made by Harshali Paralikar ©2020

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Bangalore/ Mumbai, India