India’s New Parliament Building is part of the Central Vista Redevelopment Project — an initiative by the Government of India to create a Parliament House which can meet the demands of the present time. The foundation of this new government building was established in 2020 by the Prime Minister of India. The foundation ceremony was held at a grand scale: witnessed by government officials, various ministers, and even ambassadors of different countries. This New Parliament is being built near the Old Building in New Delhi to continue the existing heritage. This new parliament is expected to be inaugurated and functional by August 2023. The need for this new parliament building is twofold: to meet the modern-day requirements of advanced technology and increased capacity and to create a genuinely Indian architecture detached from the earlier colonial construction.
The design of the New Parliament that has surfaced for the people to see is a modern envisioning of a state-of-art facility. The architectural design has shifted from the earlier traditionally circular one to a newer, more interesting triangular one. Additionally, there is an excellent use of advanced technology, such as earthquake-resistant features, efficient communication means, modern lighting, and higher-level security. It will also solve the capacity problem of the existing building, as the New Parliament will be able to accommodate many more MPs seamlessly.
This new project also promotes economic development by providing employment and growth opportunities to many people involved: skilled or unskilled workers, architects, designers, managers, etc. It will also uphold the integral democratic principle as it aims at inclusivity: creating unique structures for people with disability. At the same time, the modern impulse does not compromise over environmental concerns; this project promotes sustainable development as the New Parliament will be recognized as a green building.
Modernity is balanced with tradition in this new project. The New Parliament is representative of the whole country, which makes it essential that its design promotes India’s diverse culture and values. To implements this, regional artwork from various parts of the country is used in its interiors. An article in Business Standard comments on this wholesome representation in the New Parliament: “The design of the state-of-the-art Constitutional hall symbolically and physically puts the Indian citizens at the heart of democracy”. This new hall allows members elected from different parts of the country to come together and interact freely. This would create an all-encompassing space outside the official meetings and discussions to foster collectiveness and closeness among the elected Members of Parliament.
Furthermore, there is an extensive incorporation of national symbols in the new design: Banyan Tree, the national tree, is placed in the Central Lounge; the colours of peacock — the national bird — and colours of lotus — the national flower — are used in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, respectively. An Indian Express article further emphasizes this: “The government has said the new Parliament “will have extensive use of wooden structure…rooted in traditional motifs and elements…” The floors of the new building would have “hand-knotted carpets from Bhadohi in Uttar Pradesh”. The New Parliament is, therefore, being built with a nationalist sensibility: capturing a unified patriotic feeling in the country’s cultural diversity. It is only apt that as a house of national governance, this new building metaphorically embraces national identity symbols.
All of this can also be seen as an attempt to separate from the colonial legacy of the Old Parliament. The British colonizers initially constructed India’s parliament to signify their Imperial rule. Edwin Lutyens, a British architect, was responsible for defining the contours of the Old Parliament — creating an essentially British governance site. Even after the Independence, India’s parliamentary model was based on British frameworks: a clear analogy existed between the Lok Sabha and the House of Commons and between the Rajya Sabha and the House of Lords. Even the colour scheme, organizational structures, and many rules and laws were inspired by the British counterpart. However, the New Parliament attempts to rework these aspects to encapsulate Indianness. For instance, the meaning of the colour scheme has been inverted in the New Parliament to capture India’s unique identity. Coming out of the colonial mindset, this New Parliament is an essential step toward a self-sufficient India.
Finally, the Old Parliament will not be discarded or demolished. It is still part of the country’s heritage as it contains the rich historical record of pre- and post-Independence India. Though established during colonial rule, it has witnessed the country's transformation into a free State. It has been an integral part of the nation-building process: a memorial to various landmark movements. And because of this, the Government of India has decided to preserve the Old Parliament as a national archaeological past — with the possibility of becoming a museum to create awareness about India’s democratic history for its visitors. This would make an exciting spectacle as the modern Indianness of the New Parliament will be juxtaposed against this relic from India’s colonial past.
Edited by Whitney Edna Ibe
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