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 Table of Contents    
Year : 2011  |  Volume : 53  |  Issue : 5  |  Page : 1-3
Welcome Address

Vice-Chairman, Organizing Committee, ANCIPS, 2011

Click here for correspondence address and email

Date of Web Publication3-Apr-2012

How to cite this article:
Jiloha R C. Welcome Address. Indian J Psychiatry 2011;53, Suppl S1:1-3

How to cite this URL:
Jiloha R C. Welcome Address. Indian J Psychiatry [serial online] 2011 [cited 2020 Sep 26];53, Suppl S1:1-3. Available from:

ANCIPS-2011: A befitting tribute to New Delhi's 100 years

In the evening of September 16, 1803 as the sun was about to set and the torrid heat of the day had abated, immense crowds thronged the streets of Delhi to watch General Gerard Lake entering the city in triumph at the head of a glittering cavalcade. He was accompanied by Mirza Akbar Shah, heir apparent to the Mughal throne and the British Commander-in-Chief entered Delhi through Kashmere Gate to make his way slowly through the packed streets of the Imperial capital to reach the barbican and bastions of the exalted - Red Fort.

There the octogenarian emperor Shah Alam, blind and shabbily dressed seated beneath a small tattered canopy in the Diwan-e-khas greeted his conqueror. [1]

To the citizens of Delhi who jostled for a glimpse of General Lake that September evening, their new masters were but the latest of a host of conquerors whose armies had tramped through the vicinity since prehistoric periods. The Aryans who entered India from Central Asia in the second millennium BC had settled around here and the Pandvas of Mahabharat epic had their capital here named Indraprastha, which tradition and archeology have identified with Delhi.

In the succeeding three millennia, the city was remarkable for the number of its sites, each the quarry for the next. History is a witness that if Delhi is conquered the whole of India lies before the conqueror. Control of Delhi represented the key to Hindustan. [2] Intoxicated with the self-induced pride of his victory to capture the imperial city little did the super-commander realize that roughly next one hundred and fifty years of India belonged to the British and a hundred years later Delhi will serve the focal point for expression of their grandeur of imperial power.

With the British possession of Delhi, the remnants of Mughal splendor became ever tawdrier, and only the Shah Alam's blindness spared him the spectacle of desolation and decay which greeted the visitors to the court. The British masters determined that the emperor would be no more than a crowned stipendiary. The monthly allowance doled out to him was insufficient to maintain all the palace buildings, family and thousands of royal collaterals, entirely dependent on King's bounty. The fountains stood silent, garden sweepings lay scattered on the marble pavements and the excreta of birds and bats stained walls and canopies. The old Mughal traditions lingered on as if in suspended animation like withered leaves on a windless autumn day. [3]

The tranquil decadence was swept away in 1857 by the bloodbath of the Mutiny, with its horrors of massacre, the siege, and vengeful sack wherein the mutineers transiently occupied the fort and declared the stipendiary king, the last Mughal, Bahadurshah Zafar as Emperor of India. However, it did not last longer. After recapturing Delhi, the young British army officer Hudson forced two of the last emperor's sons and a grandson to strip at gunpoint, then summarily shot them at a place where Khooni Darwaza stands today just before the entrance of the walled city. Bodies of the three were hung on a tree for public display for the next three days. [4] Zafar was arrested from Humayun's tomb, where he was hiding. He was sent to Rangoon as a State Prisoner, where he died later. This brought an end to the Mughal dynasty's rule in India.

The administration of Delhi was delegated to the Punjab and the capital of an empire got reduced to a divisional and district centre. However, Lord Lytton's selection of Delhi for the magnificent Durbar, and the vividness of the passing show, at which Queen Victoria was proclaimed Empress of India, did inspire memories of one time splendor of Delhi. On January 1, 1877, with Lytton's presiding at Delhi, amid great pomp, Queen Victoria was proclaimed Kaiser-e-Hind, Empress of India and saluted by Indian princes and kings. In the same year he reiterated his proposal for removing the capital from Calcutta but the then British Prime Minister rejected the proposal. Subsequently, Lord Curzon's masterfully conceived Durbar in 1903 on the accession of Edward VII as the Emperor of England was Delhi's proud heritage again invoked. [5]

In December 1910, shortly after his arrival in India' Lord Charles Hardinge, the new Viceroy had conceived the idea of having a new Imperial capital to rule Indian subcontinent. Coronation Durbar of December 1911 translated this idea into reality. The most remarkable feature of the Durbar was the unprecedented presence of King-Emperor George V and the Queen Empress Mary at the occasion. On the morning of December 12, 1911, more than 100,000 people filled the great arena north of the city (now Kingsway Camp) to witness beneath a dome of azure sky what was destined to be the last and most brilliant Coronation Durbar.

On 15 th December King-Emperor's words burst over Delhi like tropical sun through the dark rain clouds of a monsoon. Consigned for more than half a century to provincial status, the city found itself raised at one stroke to the capital of a subcontinent. Hardinge's proposal to change the capital made to his council in June 1911 six months prior to the Durbar was a reality that culminated after a prolonged search of half a century to find a suitably central place for exercising their imperial power. [6]

Since 1889 the city of Delhi had been the junction of a great railway system, served by no fewer than six lines by 1911; making it an ideal destination for a capital city. Apart from its central location and fine communications, Delhi was appreciably closer than Calcutta to Simla, with the result that the annual migration to the hills would consume far less time and be much less costly. Moreover, the bustling avenues of Chandni Chowk, with its cloth shops, churches, banks, cinemas, mosques, temple and Town Hall, had a decidedly prosperous and cosmopolitan air. [6]

There was of course, the fact that the foundation stone of the new city had been laid by the King Emperor and the Queen Empress on the Durbar site, north of Delhi (now Kingsway Camp) and Hardinge hoped that the new city would rear around the spot where those stones were laid.

The Delhi Town Planning Committee was constituted in March 1912 comprising of 12 members of whom Herbert Baker, John Brodie, George Swinton and Edwin Lutyens were prominent. New Delhi is often referred as Lutyens' Delhi for the prominent role played by him in construction of the city. The Committee members camped in Maiden's Hotel (now Oberoi Maiden, near Kashmere Gate) and early in the morning every day, perched on elephants left to see the terrain. The northern site had great scenic and architectural possibilities, and initially the committee had been drawn to it for that reason. [7] There were economic considerations too. The area between the Ridge and Jamuna comprised one and a quarter square of a mile, including Civil Lines (with some 120 attractive bunglows), the Metcalfe Estate, and a tongue of land along the river. The Imperial secretariat (now old Secretariat) was also ready by 1912.

In their report of June 13, 1912 on the choice of a site of the new city, however, the committee had concluded that a healthy capital laid out on a large scale and occupied for seven months a year was impossible on north site as the area was too cramped for a worthy city and inadequate for further expansion. [8]

Raising their objections to Pitampura tableland (northern site), a committee chaired by Sir Pardey Lukins, the then Surgeon-General of India and another by seven military officers concluded superior healthfulness of the southern site. [9] Declaring the medical report on the north site to be conclusive, Hardinge favoured the southern site and sought a view of it by climbing the monumental 18 th century observatory built by a Maharaja of Jaipur (now Jantar Mantar on Parliament Street). [10]

Delhi Town Planning Committee submitted its final lay-out report in 1913 which included the area bounded on north by Shahjahanabad, the seventeenth century Delhi, on the east by the Jamuna River, and on the west by the ridge. Southern limit was marked by the Safdarjang's tomb and the tract beyond up to the Qutub, eminently suitable for buildings, was designated for further expansion.

The focal point was the Raisina acropolis, comprising Government House (the Viceregal lodge and now Rashtrapati Bhawan), not only the heart of the city, but the keystone of the rule over the Empire of India; the place of highest expression of exalted imperial power.

Crossing the 440-foot parkway at right angle is a north-south avenue, the Queen's way (now Janpath), terminating in a new railway station on the north and the angelical cathedral in the south. Around the grand plaza at railway station are grouped municipal offices, banks, shops and hotels; the post office is symmetrically juxtaposed to the station. The intended ceremonial or processional route leads due south from railway to the intersection of the Queen's way (now Janpath) and King's way (now Rajpath) and then west to Government House (now Rashtrapati Bhawan). At the junction of the two avenues, four large buildings placed within the central vista, formed a cultural or intellectual plaza: the Oriental Institute, National Museum, National Library and Imperial Record Office. A long, alternative processional route extends south from the Delhi Gate past the houses of Indian nobles and affords a handsome view of the Jamuna. Halfway from the old city, the route is inflected south-west toward a commemorative column (India Gate) at the east end of the King's way (Rajpath). Seven main roads converge on this column, just as seven roads converge on the forecourt of the Government acropolis (Rashtrapati Bhawan) at the opposite end of the central vista. With the exception of the central parkway, the city's avenues range in width from 60 to 300 feet. [10]

The plan incorporated several classes of dwellings, from 3000 square-foot houses to ten-foot square one-room abode units for the poor. A progressive feature of the layout was the reservation of the open spaces throughout the various districts, to furnish adequate aeration. [11]

The axis leading north-east from the secretariat to the railway plaza in the direction of the Jama Masjid, forms the city's main business avenue (Connaught Circuis). In this area southwest of the station lie the houses of the local administrators and the European clerks' houses (now Gole Market). Segregated to the west, between Talkatora Garden and the unattractive Paharganj, are the residences of Indian clerks.

The Committee placed the club, an indispensable fixture of the colonial scene, south-west of the viceroy's house (Zimkhana Club), easily accessible from European residences and the military cantonment, located south of Malcha on the outer side of the ridge. [12]

The avenue from the new railway station aligned on the Jama Masjid connects the new city and Shahjahanabad. Inside the city walls this route; one branch thrusts its way through the densely parked quarters to the King Edward VII Memorial near the fort, the other pushes through the centre of the old city, across its principal artery, Chandni Chowk and Victoria Garden to terminate at St. James Church. The broad roads straight through the heart of the crowded Sadar Bazar connect New Delhi with Civil Lines. [13]

With the lay-out report Hardinge moved swiftly to assemble a staff to construct this imperial city appointing Hailey, the then chief commissioner of Delhi as the president of Imperial Delhi Committee on March 25, 1913.

On the morning of February 9, 1921, in the Imperial Secretariat (now Old Secretariat) the Duke of Connaught inaugurated the first joint session of the assemblies heralding the awakening of a great nation to the power of its nationhood. Three days later, in lying the foundation stone of the legislative chambers (Parliament House), Duke emphasized the symbolic importance of the occasion: it marked India's entry on the path of responsible government with an edifice destined to be as noble and imposing as Dominion Parliament House, the Viceregal residence and Secretariats on the top of Raisina Hills, or indeed ant historic monument on the subcontinent. [14] By March 1921, Government House was nearly one-third finished, the Secretariat blocks roughly two-fifth, and residences about three-fifth completed.

Framed by the War Memorial arch (India Gate), the Sovereign's monument not only served as stately conclusion to King's way (now Rajpath), but also helped the visually disruptive Inwin Amphitheater (now National Stadium). Begun in 1931 at the easternmost end of the main urban axis, the stadium marred the important vista of Indraprastha Fort (Old Fort) walls which had been a principal feature of the Town Planning Committee layout. [15]

The city that Lord Hardinge envisioned with King George V laying the foundation stone on December15, 1911 and inaugurated by Lord Irwin on February 15, 1931 was meant to testify to the ideal and fact of British rule in India. The undeviating geometry of the city plan became symbolic of Britain's efforts to impose order and unity on the subcontinent while the monumental scale of the avenues and the principal buildings had implied a permanence that challenged time itself.

Some two hundred and seven years after General Gerard Lake had entered Delhi to capture the city and roughly a hundred years after Lord Hardinge had conceived the idea of New Delhi, ANCIPS 2011 comes to the city not to rule its masses but to disseminate the message of mental health to common man and definitely to invoke its glorious and proud heritage once again.

   References Top

1.Spear. Cities of Delhi, page 404. In: Thompson. Delhi as Capital, page 109; and Farrell. Delhi 1911-1922, page 1-2. London: Yale University Press.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Herbert. Narrative of a Journey. 1:306-7; Spear. . Cities of Delhi, 1912; page 412,   Back to cited text no. 2
3.OCC file 196 cited in Spear, Twilight of Mughals, 1915; page 221 as quoted in Indian Summer, 3 rd Ed. London: Yale University Press; 1984.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Ferrell. Delhi, 1911-1922., page 3,6 as quoted in Indian Summer, 3 rd Ed. London: Yale University Press; 1984.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Coronation Durbar: The New Capital, Foundation Stones Laid. Pioneer (Allahabad), December 16, 1911.  Back to cited text no. 5
6.Delhi, EL to LL, April 17, 1912. ELP; Delhi EL to HB, April 25, 1912, HBK; and Delhi, EL to LL, April 25, 1912, ELP.  Back to cited text no. 6
7.First Report of the Delhi Town Planning Committee. Cd. 6885, page 6 and the Second Report of the Delhi Town Planning Committee, Cd 6888, page 7-9.  Back to cited text no. 7
8.Note on Sir Bradford Leslie's scheme, March 11,1913. Appendix to PP. Second Report of the Delhi Town Planning Committee. Cd 6888 Page 1.  Back to cited text no. 8
9.New Delhi Advisory Committee: Minutes of the 11 th meeting of the Committee. IOR,L/PWD/6/1156, File4165; Delhi, EL to LL. January 29 and February 25, 1920, ELP and HB Memorandum of the meeting at the India Office, of Delhi Committee, November 19 th 1920: Processional Way, HBK.  Back to cited text no. 9
10.Delhi: Second Report of HV Lanchester: The Extension of the Indian City, CMP 1/10(I).  Back to cited text no. 10
11.Robert Grant Irving. Indian Summer: Lutyens, Baker and Imperial Delhi. 3 rd Ed. London: Yale University Press; 1940.  Back to cited text no. 11
12.The buildings of New Capital. Indian Architecture (Pg No. 19,20) The Architecture of Delhi (Pg 617 - 8) Pioneer Allahabad May 3 1912.  Back to cited text no. 12
13.Blomfield. Memoirs, Sir Herbert Baker. Document from Indian Archieves. 1944. p. 145-9.  Back to cited text no. 13
14.Shorrock JC, McLeod N. Annual General Meeting, Bengal Chamber of Commerce. February 27, 1914, In: New Capital of Delhi. IOR, L/PWD/6/923, File 1037; and extracts from the Statesman (Calcutta).  Back to cited text no. 14
15.Smith. Architectural Symbolism of Imperial Rome and the Middle Ages, as quoted in Indian Summer, 3 rd Ed. London: Yale University Press; 1984. p. 30.  Back to cited text no. 15

Correspondence Address:
R C Jiloha
Vice-Chairman, Organizing Committee, ANCIPS, 2011

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