It was 2010. While working on infrastructure policy, we encountered multiple issues in traditional approaches to policy design.

Can people get involved in planning their city — how can we deepen their participation? How can policymakers explore implications of their decisions without implementing them, thereby save time, cost, and effort? How can different agencies examine if we are adequately prepared for emergencies?

The answers to these questions is yes. But there was a gap.

People can get involved in planning their city if there is a tool that facilitates their participation. Policymakers can explore implications of their decisions, if there is a tool that lets them explore alternatives and debate options. We can examine whether we are prepared for emergencies if we have a tool that can test existing protocols and measures, and understand where they need strengthening.

In short, yes, we can improve the process of policymaking if we had the appropriate tools. What if we had these tools for the Indian context? Many conversations we had with policymakers, scholars, and civil society groups ended with the same question.

As people interested in policymaking and technology, we were curious - can we create such a place that would design such tools?

For starters, we required a space where different disciplines can work together, from technology, art, to social sciences. Instead of being purely academic or purely practice-oriented, the space had to build bridges between theory and practice. The space had to establish dialogues with different sets of audiences — policymakers, academia, civil society organisations, and industry.

A space that is open with a culture of curiosity.

Eswaran Subrahmanian was a driving force in articulating the philosophy that would underpin such a space. After many discussions with him and our mentors Robin King, JP Kamath, and Prof. Rajagopalan we were able to conceive of what the space would be like.

It was but natural that the second question we asked ourselves is what-if we created such a space? Thus FoV was born, with Bharath and Harsha nurturing it from a passionately debated idea to a full-fledged organization.

In February 2012, Fields of View was registered as a not-for-profit organization under the Karnataka Societies Registration Act, 1960. JP Kamath became the president, Bharath the secretary and Harsha the treasurer. In 2014, Sruthi became the secretary.

FoV found its first home in the incubation space of International Institute of Information Technology, Bangalore, for which we will always be indebted to Prof. Sadagopan and Prof. Balaji. Our first projects began. We learned a lot. We made some mistakes. We learned some more. Our vision of what Fields of View was became clearer.

Three years went by. We made a home in JP Nagar in the December of 2014. Our second home, what we began to call the FoV House. It has a terrace with terracotta tiles and a room with windows all around that invite sunlight and Bangalore’s breeze. We painted the walls, we rummaged through the streets of Shivaji Nagar for second-hand furniture, and we selected curtains. When we brought home a leave-it-pot for composting, we knew we had settled in.

We have an interdisciplinary team, with folks whose backgrounds range from arts, social sciences, technology, and film. We have forged partnerships with academia, civil society, and the government. We have a foundation, a foundation built on a culture of curiosity and openness. We hope to build on this foundation, and it feels as though the journey has just begun.

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