The new Parliament building, for which our esteemed Prime Minister recently laid the foundation stone, on December 10, 2020, boasts of being a grandiose edifice worthy of an investment of 971 crore rupees. This comes amidst a global pandemic where India has been struggling to provide sufficient safety gear to most of its frontline workers, hospital beds to its citizens, coupled with an unparallel economic blow where the Indian economy contracted by a record 23.9%, as per the official data released by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation in the April-June quarter of this fiscal year. India’s GDP contraction was far worse than most of its colleagues in the global market.
While resuscitation has been a slow process, the elaborate plans for the construction of both, the Ram Mandir at Ayodhya and the new Parliament building have gained full momentum without any obstacles in sight! Singing the hymns of an Atmanirbhar Bharat (self-sufficient India), the Prime Minister hailed the yet to be constructed Constitution Hall of the Parliament as the upholder of India’s democratic heritage.
Sadly enough, the existing pillars of India’s democracy stand to quiver with such rhetoric.
Originally a proposition from 2010, the move to revamp the sprawling Central Vista and the relocation of administrative buildings, contrary to popular belief, has materialized over a period of 12 odd years. This was in response to the supposed notion the 93-year-old British construction faltered to keep up with India’s throbbing democratic fervour, owing to the inadequacy of space for its members and staff. A committee had been set up by Meira Kumar in 2012 to look into the same.
Delhi: Foundation stone laying ceremony of the new Parliament building is underway.
Tata Trusts' Chairman Ratan Tata, Union Minister HS Puri, Dy Chairman of Rajya Sabha Harivansh & various religious leaders also present
Tata Projects Ltd has been given contract for the project pic.twitter.com/geeGWik99N
— ANI (@ANI) December 10, 2020
Come 2019, the Central Government launched the Central Vista Redevelopment Project, entailing the revamping of Rajpath, making a new office and residence for the Indian Prime Minister, the construction of a new Parliament building and bringing together all ministerial buildings under a single secretariat. While the new constructions possibly paint the possibility of greater participation, the citizens of the nation who find themselves embroiled in a dilemma of national priorities, are dubious of all this.
Poverty and homelessness still remain a bitter reality of Indian democracy. Promises of greater participation offer no guarantee of greater representation. The tribal population is one of the most marginalised sections of society, as they were during independence. Today, the farmers have taken to the streets to stage one of the largest protests in Indian history against the repressive farm ordinances.
Not so long ago, the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens( NRC) legislations were met with a similar fate. With the entire country boiling in rage, it is hard to think that a new parliament building will fulfil the country’s ‘aspirations’ as reiterated by the ‘first amongst equals’ in his foundation-laying ceremony speech.
"If we keep the country's best interests in mind, and pledge to move towards a better India, we will not only improve our present, but also build a brighter future," says PM Modi after laying foundation stone of new Parliament building #centralvista pic.twitter.com/95Ui3gjetu
— NDTV (@ndtv) December 10, 2020
A Supreme Court bench, led by Justice A.M Khanwilkar, expressed their displeasure with the Centre for aggressively going ahead with the construction, demolition and the shifting of trees even when the legality of the same was already being questioned in the court. Yet, the Central government was permitted to lay the foundation stone after the submission of an undertaking.
The old Parliament has been the cradle of India’s democratic identity. Debates and discussions in the Parliament have rendered India it’s unique dynamism. Each and every pillar of the old Parliament has been a witness to India’s many trajectories. Today, the old British construction awaits its fate, to be turned into a museum; a museum of ambitions, aspirations and necessities.
To say it needs ‘rest’ is a diabolical submission made by the esteemed leader. Constructing new buildings as a modus operandi of shedding the “colonial hangover,” making “India First,” seems to be a tactless endeavour.