For a new India
The newly inaugurated Parliament building is a case in point in the broader growth trajectory of the nation
With the dawn of January, we have entered the third decade of the 21st century. It marks a significant moment in India's growth prospective to become the 21st century leader. The nation is witnessing a transformative journey to fulfil the aspiration of the citizenry. The same decade of the previous century marked several historical milestones that have added tremendous value to achieve nationalistic goals. The futuristic planning of this new decade will resonate a long way in the country's development path. The newly inaugurated Parliament building is a case in point in the broader growth trajectory of the nation.
The Montague-Chelmsford reforms resulted in the participation of Indians in governance through the enactment of the Government of India Act 1919. In 1921, public representatives were elected for the first time through the Act. The need was felt to accommodate them appropriately. The Central Assembly started functioning in the present-day Delhi legislative assembly premises.
A century back, these reforms resulted in the creation of the bicameral legislature. Adwin Lutiyan and Herbart Baker designed the present parliament building's architectural plan for accommodating the legislators. Commencing from 1921, it took six years to raise the parliament building entirely. First Lok Sabha had 489 seats & each MP had represented an average seven lakh population. The capital's population was merely 13-14 lacs, which is now more than 2.5 crore! India's population has increased from 36.1 crore in 1951 to more than 135 crore. The same bottom-up curve was required in the context of people represented by an individual MP.
Nowadays, MPs have to manage day-to-day affairs, monitoring developmental projects and schemes from their camp offices. There has been the need for an institutional and infrastructural set up for them to facilitate coordination with various departments — ensuring the smooth delivery of public services in the National Capital.
The idea of the new structure for parliament is not recently mooted; two former speakers highlighted the need for the same. The Parliamentary staff, security personnel, media visitors, and parliamentary activities have risen sharply since the present structure was commissioned in 1927. During the parliament's joint session, the central hall remains jam-packed and few Members are bound to sit on additionally arranged chairs. However, there were several limitations to structural repair, alteration and modification, being a heritage grade-I building. The existing parliament building lacks several safety issues, i.e., earthquake-proof, standard fireproofing system and also less office space. In 2012, Meera Kumar, the then Lok Sabha Speaker, accorded approval for the new parliament building citing the distress over the over-utilized ages-old building. Similarly, in 2016, former speaker Sumitra Mahajan suggested that the urban development ministry initiate the new parliament's construction. Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, M Venkaih Naidu, Lok Sabha Speaker, Om Birla, and Union Urban Development Minister, Hardeep Singh Puri, have solicited suggestions from parliamentarians and other relevant stakeholders concerning the new parliament and ambitious Central Vista Project.
Article 81 of the Constitution of India provides for the delimitation of parliamentary constituencies. The last delimitation exercise was conducted based on the 1971 census. State-wise distribution of seats is to increase in 2026. Subsequently, the number of MPs will undoubtedly increase, which poses an urgent demand for an appropriate accommodative arrangement for the upcoming legislators.
It is the farsighted vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for dedicating the new Parliament building to the nation on the 75th Independence Day, further nurturing the 'Atma Nirbhar' nation's aspirations. Under the Central Vista project, the new parliament building's indigenous architecture will represent the cultural diversity of strengthening Ek Bharat-Shrestha Bharat's spirit. The red Dholpur stone of Rajasthan will provide a great look to this temple. This more spacious, energy-efficient green, accessible and techno-friendly building will have a seating capacity of 1,224 MPs. It will expedite the breaking of vertical
silos among the parliament & various government departments and also save more than 1,000 crore annually from the government exchequer.
India has imbibed democratic values and its rich experience in our cultural ethos. Be it 12th century Anubhava Mantapa of Bhagwan bishwshera or the 6th century Buddhism, which had taught about the co-existence of core principles of democracy, i.e., liberty, equality & fraternity to the world. Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar had very lucidly elaborated these facts during the constituent assembly debates. The USA's present parliamentary building was constructed within 25 years of independence; Australia and Brazil have proudly dedicated themselves new post-colonial parliament buildings. We must undertake a historical exercise to develop our post-colonial and People's parliament of the largest democracy. It will be the most magnificent and attractive monument in the world. This glorious project will depict India's democratic tradition's journey, representing India as the Mother of Democracy in a real sense.
The 21st century challenges are constrained by the 20th or 19th century governance formula. This calls for a pragmatic course correction through all due diligent procedures. The nation is decisively sailing to become a knowledge and economic superpower with a sincere approach of reform and transformation towards strengthening democratic ethos. The Supreme Court's verdict of providing a green signal to the government for moving ahead with the Central Vista Project is a welcome move. The government has clarified that it will continue to adhere to the highest standards and sensitive to environmental concerns during construction.
Today, all stakeholders' roles demand continuous recalibration over their rights and duties. Convergence is required among the individualistic, collective and nationalistic goals for strengthening our democratic institutions' credibility. The new parliament building's commissioning, a symbol of Atma Nirbharta, will mark a fitting tribute to the Indian democracy on the 75th year of Indian Independence. It will inspire us all to bring the national interest on the top. Everyone must engage actively for India's prosperity under the spirit radiating from the temple of democracy.
The writer is Union Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs and Heavy Industries & Public Enterprises. Views expressed are personal