The Indian government reportedly plans to either build an entirely new Parliament building or recondition the existing one in New Delhi by 15 August 2022, in time for India’s 75th Independence Day. It also also wants to build a new central secretariat to house all ministries. Bids for the project have already been invited. While the governance complex designed by the English architect Edwin Lutyens does lack modern amenities, and there are reports of cracks in some of Parliament’s columns, it would be best if the latter’s super-structure is retained the way it is.
Few doubt that the circular building needs to be renovated. After all, it was erected back in 1927. But our Parliament house has long since evolved into a monument of freedom and democracy. It was here that our first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru made his historic “tryst with destiny" speech on the eve of Independence. It was also in its central hall that current Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in an echo of that momentous occasion, launched the Goods and Services Tax at the stroke of the midnight hour on 1 July 2017.
It is no exaggeration that the building has settled into the national consciousness as something more than the grand work of stone masonry it is. It is a symbol of the country’s democratic values. As architectural aesthetics go, it has an undeniable appeal for its very uniqueness. Pragmatic countries should not be needlessly sentimental, but some monuments are indeed a matter of pride. Let’s refurbish it, that’s all.