Friday, 15 February 2013


Fifty Years of Nation Building


Viceroy's Residence at New Delhi
All that I saw was a huge gate whenever I visited the place

LOOKING BACK, the event – 15th August 1947 – now seems an end, and not a beginning.

Symbolically and virtually, when the President of India walked into the Outhouse of the British Empire, i.e. Viceroy's Palace (renamed ‘Rashtrapati Bhavan’), it was an insult to her people, who continued to live in 5, 57,000 villages and in the slums and even below poverty line. Their fate was sealed as second-class citizens. There erupted a trade in a new guise to take over the feudal mastership, a scramble for power and profit, and a stream of sugarcoated slogans.

The intellectual corruption, therefore, cannot be measured.

Architects and planners belong to the same stock of rulers – looking for clues, inspiration, models, collaborations, and approvals… – and aid from the West or otherwise from the bygone past.
Who does care for the living present and posterity!
It begins with formal education, which conspires to breed a hybrid monoculture, far from creativity.

The only hope for freedom is the millions who silently resist, suffer, protest, prevail, sustain without coming into the fold of the ruling minority.  In-spite of the onslaught of the environment, ecology and energy at the hands of development planning that continues to fail (to bring wellbeing to the majority).

There is hope, if millions are taken into confidence:  if there is collective creativity which is an Indian tradition and heritage and a collective introspection.

There is hope, as some signs of change appear on the horizon.

The so-called Rashtrapati Bhavan Estates deserve to be returned to the people for the fit use of public fairs, fun and frolic and its part for a museum of enslaved past, for the posterity to learn from. Then perhaps the Indian Architecture of freedom and democracy will emerge?

(This note was sent in response to: “Write about a building(s) or urban development which you feel has had a lasting impact on post-independence Indian architecture”, a request by Indian Architect Builder, and published in its special issue, “50 Years of nation Building”, August 1997, p.69)

It took 15 years to realize part of a my wishful thinking. There is a news: Rashtrapati Bhavan Mughal Gardens set to open for public from February 16

Read More>> Urban Renewal in the Regional Context

Note: The image above is from Internet.
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©Remigius de Souza, all rights reserved.

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