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New Parliament to showcase India's civilisational ethos

DECCAN CHRONICLE | Sachchidanand Joshi

Published on: May 26, 2023 | Updated on: May 26, 2023

An aerial view of newly-constructed Parliament building that will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 28, in New Delhi, Friday, May 26, 2023(Photo: PTI)

The new Parliament building, which will be dedicated to the nation by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday, testifies to the identity of a self-reliant "New India". This building represents the collective hopes and democratic consciousness of the people of India. Its installation in the 75th year of India’s Independence symbolises a profound awakening of values ingrained in our civilisational ethos.

The triangular design of the building is part of the Central Vista redevelopment project launched in 2019, which unambiguously replaces the British-era colonial architecture with a compact administrative zone styled to suit the evolving needs of the world’s largest democracy. Its geometric configuration is sacral per several religions and beliefs. The intersection of two triangles beautifully expresses the convergence of the divine will and human endeavour.

It is also said to be inspired by the holy Shri Yantra.

Spread across 65,000 sq. m with a central courtyard, the new building houses the Lok Sabha, the Rajya Sabha, constitutional hall, lounge, service areas and other offices. The structure opens to accommodate an expanded Parliament in future. Its interior walls are decorated with principal motifs of the three national icons — the lotus, the peacock and the banyan tree. The entire building accommodates around 5,000 works of art, including paintings, wall panels, stone sculptures, metal murals and reliefs.

The new Parliament has six entrances, each adorned with guardian sculptures made out of sandstone. These are the Gajadvara, Ashvadvara, Garudadvara, Hamsadvara, Makaradvara and Sharduladvara.

The building has three ceremonial foyers. They have huge brass images of Gandhi, Chanakya, Gargi, Patel, Ambedkar, and the Konark wheel. The public entrances lead to three galleries. The Sangeet Gallery meticulously exhibits the richness of the nritya, gayan, and vadya traditions of India. It assembles various musical instruments and displays dance performances from every state of the country.

Eminent musicians or their family members have gifted their instruments to the gallery. They include Ustad Bismillah Khan, Pandit Ravi Shankar, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, Vidwan N. Ramani and Pt Shiv Kumar Sharma. The Sthapatya Gallery displays the representative heritage included in the Unesco world heritage list of each state. The Shilpa Gallery showcases the versatile and distinct handicrafts of all Indian states. Besides all these, there is a People’s Wall based on the theme "Jan Janani-Janmabhumi" depicting folk and tribal traditions and paintings made by 75 female grassroots artists.

One of the central themes of the Parliament art gallery is its constitutional section which showcases the unique civilisational journey of India as the "mother of democracy". The gallery exquisitely displays how India develops her multiple systems of governance channelised through various institutions by referring to the Vedas, Smritis, Ramayana, Mahabharata, dramas, sutras, Arthasastra, manuscripts, coins, edicts and so on. One of the guiding principles of this gallery is the recognition of the rajya as a bestower of dharma and artha — "athadharmarthaphalayarajyayanamah".

 Such idealisation is verily the unique feat of Indic civilisation.

Interestingly, even the word "sansad" appears in the Atharvaveda (VII.12.3), and it has the same meaning in which it is used today.

The constitutional gallery is also decorated with fresco artwork installed in its niches. It primarily comprises paintings made by Nandalal Bose. Out of several artworks and murals in the new Parliament building, one depicts the iconic narrative of the "manthana", i.e., the churning. The gorgeous artwork is inspired by Angkor Wat.

All the artworks of the building have been created by grassroots- level artists. Recognising the efforts of nearly 60,000 workers who contributed in the making of this building, their names have been displayed prominently on a digital flipbook entitled "Hands That Made It Happen". It is perhaps the first time in history that respect has been shown towards those who worked tirelessly without being acknowledged.

One important feature of this Parliament is that a "Sengol" would be installed here as a mark of righteousness and rule of law. This would be an inspiration to future generations.

This is the first phase of artworks. There are important themes such as our freedom struggle, tribal leaders, women leaders, spiritual leaders, sports and knowledge traditions which are to be executed in the second phase. The ministry of culture, through its institution, the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, conceived and executed the artworks.

The co-existence of the two buildings symbolise "beholding the past and moving into the future". Undeniably, the new building will prove to be a living museum of our culture and the anvil on which will be fulfilled the aspirations of a billion-plus people.