We thought of a series on Delhi that does not talk only of the narrow lanes of Shahjahanabad, the Mughalia, aka Mughlai delights and the lip-smacking Chaats of Chandni Chowk or the grand ruins of the seven Delhis and the wide open spaces and broad roads, but a series that also looks at the way Delhi has evolved. We wanted to explore the logic of the city and of the forces that have shaped the idea of the city itself. It was this idea that made us approach people who have engaged with the city with love and care for decades and we requested them to write for Kafila.
This series is titled Dilli hai jiska naam and the links to the previous posts can be found at the end.
This is the third post in the series by AGK MENON
Re-orienting urban planning strategies – The Master Plan of Delhi: A.G. Krishna Menon
Delhi is an extraordinary historic city, comparable to Rome or Istanbul in the range and significance of its extant heritage. It is now the capital of a politically and economically aspiring Republican. However, unlike Rome or Istanbul, the significance of the city’s historic legacy plays little role in determining how the contemporary city is envisaged. In fact, this legacy is elided in civic planning and politically contested. Therefore, when in January 2013, the Government of India forwarded a dossier to UNESCO, to nominate Delhi as a World Heritage City, it was a historic turnaround because it marked a paradigm shift in how the civic authorities sought to view its future.
Until then, India had never sought to celebrate any of its remarkable historic cities for their heritage characteristics let alone conserve it. However, it had been the contention of the Delhi Chapter of the Indian Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), that there was a strong correlation between not valuing the cultural legacy of historic cities and the degraded conditions they had been reduced to in contemporary times. For example, the Master Plan of Delhi officially identified Shahjahanabad, the pre-eminent Mughal city built by Emperor Shahjahan in 1648, as a slum that needs to be redeveloped in the manner the bombed out cities of Europe after World War II were rebuilt. These circumstances motivated INTACH to actively advocate the need to conserve historic cities and it worked to get Delhi nominated as a World Heritage City. Continue reading RE-ORIENTING URBAN PLANNING STRATEGIES and The Master Plan of Delhi – Dilli hai jiska naam III: A.G. Krishna Menon