Open Letter to the President, CoA. Again!

Dear Sir,
First of all congratulations, on becoming the new President of the Council of Architecture, India, the last time I wrote an Open Letter to the President, CoA, it was a different sir on the receiving side.

Just in case you missed it, here.

I would love to express my gratitude to the council for conceding the voice of the fraternity over the issues mentioned in the previous letter (Logo competition, CoA website). To best of my knowledge, the logo competition has been abandoned and the website boasts of a new look.
Well, before I get to the core content of the letter I must apologize for being such a pain, you are free to yell “What is this guy’s problem, why can’t he live in peace!” To be honest, the last time I was only voicing the widespread opinion in the community, this time around I am expressing a personal agony, and other people may or may not feel the same about it.

Sir, you would be happy to know that between the last letter and today, my name got registered in the register of architects with the CoA and a couple of days ago I received the certificate of my registration. I was happy to see the envelope on my desk. I could recognize it since it was a self-addressed envelope that was sent with the other requisite documents. I pulled out the contents of the envelope to check whether everything was in place, yes everything was in there. Then finally I looked at the certificate of registration. It was supposed to be a pious moment, a sacred joy that only a person who has undergone five years of rigorous education that architecture is, would know. But I was appalled by the document, the ugliest piece of paper that I seen in the name of a certificate. I was hoping that it would be something that would adorn the wall of my humble office someday but now I don’t see that happening. Let me begin with the good things first, the 300gsm ivory like paper (I am guessing) is great for a document of importance and the reverse letterpress seal is spellbinding, though all its glory is lost in the clutter that the piece of paper is. Before getting into the details, let me share the events of the day I received the certificate, as they unfolded. My dad came home from office and asked me about the envelope, I told him what it was and he congratulated me. He went ahead and asked me to show it to me. He was baffled if this really was the certificate, with contempt he started pointing things out to me, I was happy to see that he could talk about design in that sense. Sir, I must mention that my dad is nowhere related to a field of design; he is a senior administrative officer with the government, usually buried up in paper work. There must be something grossly wrong if he seemed to dislike the certificate.

The Certificate, as received.
The Certificate, as received.

Now about the document, the document has no sense of margins in place, text alignment is badly done, and my picture is bloated out of proportion and blurred of course. The beautiful letterpress seal is just lost in the mess. I would ignore all of it, but one thing absolutely disastrous is the column on the right, a column to add registration renewal data each time, manually (most likely). Sir this is the kind of thing that shady money launderers and black money lenders would use (such pieces are called “hundi” if I am not wrong), the only person I know who still uses such a system is the local cable operator, who is fighting a lost battle to DTH service providers. I can understand that this is to save paper (if only done thoughtfully), but the document could have definitely be designed better and maybe the receipt could carry space for renewals. I understand that I shouldn’t do it every time but the sad truth is doctors and lawyers have better designed certificates hanging on the walls, though I am not sure about CAs this time because I haven’t had a chance to see someone’s certificate yet, I’ll find out about it the next time I visit a CA’s office.

The Hundi maintained by the Cable Operator
The Hundi maintained by the Cable Operator

Sir, I am sure there are pressing issues waiting to be addressed in your capacity as the President of the Council of Architecture, India, but a small redesign of the certificate wouldn’t hurt. And I think I would get something to hang on the wall.
The last time I wrote the letter I signed as the voice of the fraternity, this time I wouldn’t.

CA/2016/75808 (Oh yes! I have it)

21 thoughts on “Open Letter to the President, CoA. Again!

  1. Gita Balakrishnan says:

    Well said Pulkit! Most architects revel that they have finally received this precious certificate but I’m glad that there are people who look beyond that. I must confess that my certificate issued around 25 years ago looks exactly like yours but with the renewal years scribbled on it with an ink pen!

    1. pulkit says:

      Ma’am, hanging a certificate on the wall is deep routed in our tradition, how could I possibly ignore. At the same time I also believe that design fields have become more interrelated than ever, I guess architects are no longer just designers of spaces or furniture, and the phenomenon would only grow, I guess its time that the council takes that into account.

  2. Jitendra nayak says:

    After reading this piece I remembered and went back to my certificate and realised I need to send the darn thing to Delhi to get it endorced though have paid life time fees!!
    May be to prove am still alive 😉

  3. akashdeep says:

    Wow.. If i had an oscar.. I would have given it to you..!!
    But bad luck..
    Amazing letter.. Lets hope they consider it and not put up another competition.!!
    Just get it done.!!

  4. Ram Buche says:

    Well said Pulkit. This is beginning of the certificate for you. My certificate of 1983 is same as yours except photo on it. and the the paper gets into four pieces as I had to post it to COA each year for renewal

  5. Gaurav says:

    What you have observed here is absolutely true and needs a drastic change. Rather than the Council creating another competition out of this why wouldnt you design the Certificate as a solution to the problem you observed in the first place. Wouldn’t that be the glorifying moment in your life to begin your architectural career with…

  6. shashank says:

    HAHAHA, I got my certificate few days back, and my father had the same expressions. He was eagerly waiting for this certificate and to get it framed and hang it on the wall.
    Even the signatures are not at proper places.

  7. Manasi Gandhi says:

    Firstly thank you Pulkit Soni for this letter…. When I got my certificate before few days my and my parents reaction was same as yours… Doctors, lawyers and even CA’s get good design certificate which they frame and hang on the wall proudly… though we are from design field and after 5yrs of hardwork we get a paper which we can’t show to everyone and we can’t feel proud about…. this is very sad…

  8. Sana Mulatni says:

    very well said Pulkit…..!!
    They must know what they lack as we are Architects not the Cable Operators.
    I like your examples and the way you expressed very much and hope it would have an impact on them………:)

  9. Tushar Mittal says:

    Thanks Pulkit for sharing the grief of many other Architects. I hope the new COA president takes up the case. But seeing the last entries of Logo competition, not sure how will they get the new layout.

  10. Dr. Sridhar Rajan says:

    Already, that ‘Logo Launch’, became a ‘Logo Lunch’?? By the way, it was an excellent ‘Launch’…oops ‘Lunch’.
    Now you want ‘COA Registration Certificate Launch’?? followed by ‘Lunch’…good idea…’Dinner’ better idea.

    1. pulkit says:

      Haha sir, wasn’t the intention then, isn’t the intention now, but we are definitely better off without a logo than those.

  11. V. Girish says:

    Dear Pulkit,

    This was the first thing I read this morning and literally opened my eyes with this post.

    I honestly never paid any attention to the certificate myself and I am happy to see that you have analysed it with so much detail and I think this is indeed something all of us as designers should have seen a long time back.

    But better late than never I hope more designers get sensitised to these things and the council also fixes it.

    Thank you Pulkit

    1. Manjusha Misra says:

      Well said Pulkit. The COA does behave like the local cable operator, as I too have observed. They fine late payment of fees on a daily basis! Which respectable association does that? Their control over quality of architecture education has turned into clutches without any serious efforts towards improving professional practice to meet Indian needs. The certificate is pretty much a reflection of all this.
      I think it’s time to give young professionals a chance to bring some serious change in the COA.

      1. pulkit says:

        Also I found out that they have a 1000 bucks access fee to check the directory of architects online. The only thing that someone would really need from the council. I don’t know how they are going to promote architecture and as a profession.

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