As part of India’s Central Vista Redevelopment Project, a new parliament building was inaugurated on 28th May 2023 in New Delhi. Here’s a look into the features of the building and how it is different from the older one.
On 28th May, 2023 Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated India’s new Parliament building. He called it a symbol of the aspirations of 140 crore citizens and a vehicle that will drive India towards its goal of becoming a developed country. The event was attended by several Union ministers while most of the opposition parties boycotted the inauguration ceremony. The new Parliament is adjacent to the old circular parliament building that was constructed in 1927 during the colonial era and will now be converted into a museum. The new building has several state of the art features and is designed keeping in mind the needs of the present and future.
The inauguration event was surrounded by several controversies. Over 20 opposition parties decided to boycott the ceremony. According to them, PM Modi violated protocol to inaugurate the new complex when it should have been done by President Droupadi Murmu, the ceremonial head of the state. Several critics opined that the project only looks at Hindu heritage and is erasing other important chapters of the country’s history. The Government, on the other hand, stressed that a new Parliament was the need of the hour.
As per the government, a new Parliament building was required as the existing structure was highly stressed due to constraints related to capacity, infrastructure, technology and safety. According to the government, the old parliament building was not sufficient to accommodate new members who may be added once the delimitation exercise is conducted post 2026. The government also pointed out that the communications infrastructure and technology in the older building was antiquated and the old building structure was unsafe keeping in mind Delhi’s seismic zone.
Exhibit of Art and Culture: Capturing India’s Diversity
India’s new Parliament is dotted with many installations, murals and artwork. Nearly Rs. 200 crore was spent to decorate the interiors with 5,000 artworks. The building features an open courtyard with a Banyan tree, the national tree of India, further enhancing the building’s ethnic aspect. Inside Parliament House, there are images of gods and goddesses made on the theme of Samudra Manthan (a mythological story of the churning of the ocean).
The Foucault pendulum suspends from the ceiling of the Central Foyer of India’s new Parliament building. The pendulum hangs from a skylight at the top of the Constitution Hall and rotates on its axis without touching the floor, and signifies the “integration of the idea of India with the idea of the cosmos”. Three ceremonial foyers display huge brass images of Mahatma Gandhi, Chanakya, Gargi, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, B.R. Ambedkar, and the Chariot Wheel from the Sun Temple at Konark. The public entrances lead to three galleries, the Sangeet Gallery which exhibits dance, song, and musical traditions of India; the Sthapthya Gallery depicts the architectural heritage of the country and the Shilp Gallery showcases distinct handicraft traditions of different states.
The new Parliament building with its increased seating capacity, modern technological features and representation of India’s diversity will have a deep impact on Indian politics, especially with respect to the idea of people’s representation. Need of the hour is for parliamentarians to ensure that they work towards strengthening the foremost institution of democracy furthering India’s journey of development and growth. The new parliament should be more than just a structure. It has to be an institution that nurtures and shapes the future of Indian democracy and its citizens.
Ratika Khanna/ New Delhi
Contributing reports by Vansha Chawla and Isha Rane, Researchers at Polstrat.
From Polstrat, a non-partisan political consultancy which aims to shift the narrative of political discourse in the country from a problem-centric to a solutions-oriented approach.