December marks the hundred years of Delhi being designated as the capital of India. It was at the Delhi Durbar of 1911 that King George V announced that the capital was moving to Delhi from Calcutta.
Now one could argue that Delhi was the capital of several monarchies and empires before that. Delhi famously sits on the remains of seven Delhis before it, starting with that of the Tomar dynasty established in AD 736. But it is reasonable to assume that Delhi became the national capital, in the sense we know it today, a 100 year ago.
This is a perfect reason to celebrate in a season that has little, save cricket, for the nation to celebrate about.
File photo of the Parliament
But far from latching onto it as an opportunity to deviate attention from the lasting legacy of the Commonwealth Games, reports in The Times of India indicate that business in Delhi is proceeding as usual: towards nowhere and nothing.
Last week, the newspaper reported that with six weeks left for the centenary, the state machinery has decided to slow its plans as “senior government functionaries are cagey about being labelled ‘imperialist’ for celebrating an event bearing the Raj imprint”.
What staggering duplicity. Where were these anti-colonialists when an event called the Commonwealth Games took places that involved, among other things, the Queen’s Baton Relay, carrying a symbol of a monarch helter-skelter across the country?
Thankfully, as in 2010, chief minister Sheila Dixit has a ready solution to the state government’s ambivalence. While the government vacillates, Dixit claims that “groups of residents, schools and associations will be celebrating the occasion on their own”. While Delhi Tourism is supposed to have plans, its website is refreshingly free of any hints to this effect.
No doubt, when the state finally kicks in with plans, they will proceed with the famous alacrity of a Punjabi wedding.
What is more disturbing than this is the institutional inability to get anything done. Is this discomfort with our history? At what point do we come to terms with our past; tyrants, saints, kings and all?
Or do we wait to celebrate only our great achievements post-independence? Surely this country deserves to celebrate more frequently than that.
Do Indians live in denial of their history? Tell us at firstname.lastname@example.org