The Fact News Service,
A number of landmark buildings in the national capital, including the National Museum, the annexe of the National Archives, and the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Art (IGNCA) would soon be demolished to make way for a revamped Central Vista and a new Parliamentary complex. These buildings carry within them a slice of the history of the time when an imperial capital was designed by the colonial rulers, and the birth of a modern and aspirational India envisioned by the administrators of the country in the years immediately following its Independence in 1947.
The plan for a museum and an archive to exhibit India had been brewing since the time an imperial capital was being designed in New Delhi by the British. In their design of the capital complex, the British had marked out a special place at the intersection of Kingsway (Rajpath) and Queensway (Janpath) to be a hub for the vast amount of colonial knowledge gathered over a century and a half.
But then the First World War happened. A crippled economy and an uncertain political future in India meant that this grand project of an intellectual hub had to be left out of the new British capital. Nonetheless, one among these four institutions did find a place here as was intended. This was the Records Office. The genesis of the office happened in 1891 when the government of India decided to concentrate in one place all extant documents which had been lying around in secretariat offices in Calcutta. After the capital’s transfer to New Delhi, the records office was shifted to the area next to Kingsway.
Despite the important historical significance of this period of architectural activity, these buildings are yet to be considered as heritage and worthy of preservation since they are less than a hundred years old. The threat to the post-Independence architecture of India came into public attention recently when Delhi’s iconic Hall of Nations and Hall of Industries were demolished in 2017 to make way for the state of the art modern complex. They were built in 1972 to mark 25 years of India’s Independence but were not categorised as heritage by the Heritage Conservation Committee (HCC) since they were only 45 years old.