New Parliament India Central Vista Behind the story
New Parliament India
One of the most disturbing features of the proposed Central vista in Delhi is that the area will be so inaccessible to public protests,
pedestrians and to those who could find a little relaxation on the lawns in the area.
So an area which is supposed to constitute the very heart of democracy will become undemocratic.
This point has been little written about,
the changes are seen mainly in the context of demolition of historic buildings.
Traditionally, areas around the centers of power have been closely associated with freedom to protest.
The Washington Mall has been such a site for almost a century, the core area around British Parliament for much longer.
And these continue to be major sites of massive protests, the numbers running into lakhs of people.
Tiananmen Square so close to the center of power In Beijing was a major site of protest by Chinese students in 1989.
So the recent book Tiananmen Square Making of a Protest by Vijay Gokhale , former ambassador to China and former foreign secretary,
aroused my interest. It is a highly praised book and its title is very catchy but the book has much less focus
on the protest itself beyond some observations.
Gokhale was then a young diplomat in Beijing. ‘I recall being woken by the sound of tanks moving down the
Avenue of Eternal Peace. It was 5 o’clock on the morning of 4 June. Tanks, APCs and troop trucks were sweeping
down the avenue. Citizens ran for cover. Helicopters hovered above. Foreign media claimed that Chinese troops
had fired into the crowds with several hundred casualties, he says.
He had a close view of the situation and felt Western accounts
of a high number of casualties were driven
more by the Cold war situation. The book is much more about economic reforms by a party
that still swears in the name of Communism.
As for the New Parliament India Central vista, pedestrians will have to walk through an underpass in a very regimented,
closely watched space. It is somewhat like walking to Marine Drive in an enclosed space and while
you may finally come out and get some view of Marine Drive,
most of the fun is lost.
The whole area in Central Vista will be impersonal, driven by high security, fear of common people
felt by the rulers, reminds one of Mike Davis’s influential writing about the militarization of urban
space which has received very little attention in India.
As Vivan Sundaram, the noted artist, has observed in an interview it will be a fortress-like area and pedestrians
will have to go through subterranean space and through lifts in the neighboring Metro stations with very little
visible accessibility to the outside world.
But there is one point of his one would not be enthusiastic about. He said at present one’s driver finds it so difficult to
get parking space in the area . In that context, he said, more parking will be a welcome change.
It is all right from the very limited range of a motorist but in the West
even motorists are recognizing that there should
be fewer parking spaces and the whole attitude to parking is changing.
The very logic of access to the Metro station means there should be much less need for motor vehicles.
But the whole logic is driven upside
down by the car obsessed political class..
True , some cars are needed in the area
but not in such large numbers.
Vidyadhar Date Vidyadhar Date is a senior journalist and author of a book concerned with road safety and the cause of public transport , cyclists and pedestrians.