Honourable Mr A. N. Namjoshi, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen and Fellow Architects:
It is my proud privilege to welcome you all to this general meeting. I am very happy that we have with us the distinguished visitors so also past presidents of our Institute. I am particularly happy that we have amongst us honourable Mr A. N. Namjoshi, Minister of Education, who has keen interest in planning and development and his association has been a source of encouragement. I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to my brother architects for having unanimously electing me as your President and shown confidence in me. I may assure you that it will be my endeavour to enhance the prestige of the Institute and carry out its mission towards professional excellence guided by social goals. I am particularly happy that we have a mixture of council set up of senior professionals such as Shri Homi N. Dallas as our Vice-President, Shri N. A. Bhonsule, Treasurer and enthusiastic and experienced Secretaries, Shri Ram F. Kewalramani and Shri S. Y. Madan together with other capable and imaginative members which makes a very fine team. This team gives me an assurance of purposeful work programmes after the Institute having passed through a rough weather last year. Important part of today’s function essentially is to take a stock of past and unfold blueprint of our work programmes. The Council has an important task of promoting programmes concerning professional and community interest. However, the Institute’s effectiveness essentially depends on the participation of our members. The work of a small team of council members will have no impact unless each member takes upon him self the accepted responsibilities, activates and pursues the task with determination. I do depend on your support and collaboration. It is my hope it will be forthcoming.
There still exists considerable misunderstanding about the word ‘architect’ with respect to his role in the urban and rural developments in the present national situation. It is true that historically, architects have worked for feudalistic and religious institutions so also for rich class of population in producing the pattern of civilization. This was so because of the dictates and out look of ruling political institutions. With the present impact on communication, science and technology with changing human values and social goals, the emphases have shifted basically. The individual architect working for individual client with individual wealth producing singular form expressing self-glorification and exuberance has no validity in the present context of time. The architect’s role today involves collaborative efforts for collective enterprise using corporate wealth to serve impersonal client evolving collective form unknown to the past. The definition of architecture today is not limited to buildings only but an activity which embraces varieties of endeavour including landscape, ecological values, movement and transport embracing all activities of human endeavour. The purpose and functions which have bearing on the physical form is not limited to visible measurable matter of fact functions alone but embrace that aspect of functions which are invisible and unmeasurable and which influence mood, attitude, behaviour also form part of the total human functions and which influence the quality of life.
With the present state of affairs as they are in our time most of our urban centres show that the major living areas are turning in to slums and the slum which constitutes a small fraction of city revenue suck away city wealth disproportionately towards bad health, disease, death rate, crime, juvenile delinquency and all conceivable evils. The resources of the city which ought to be used towards development, recreation, leisure and cultural needs of the community. Bombay, Delhi, Madras and Calcutta — the biggest urban centres in this country have for one reason or the other denied people the finest assets of natural setting and surroundings of sea, landscape, river front and historical monuments dwarfing human enthusiasm and spirits. Unfortunately, the cities backed by vested interest are carrying on developments merrily thereby destroying the infrastructure assets of basic urban life.
Nariman point in Bombay is a glaring example of this type where what seems to be superficially attractive to a profit motivated section of society is basically a denial of essential social benefits to the city population at large. If such a development is allowed to proceed it is not only going to disturb the relationship of city and seascape but chock the basic arteries of city services — the infrastructures of the town. Such a situation calls for foresight and wisdom on the part of Local and State Governments in understanding totality of this problem. Ladies and Gentlemen, my purpose in making this statement is that our role and training as architects is very much tied to the existing urban and rural situation and will remain so for a long time to come, unless the same is resolved to a new life concept. Our effort essentially is to equip ourselves to pursue social goals through physical planning and design within the Political systems, to evolve educational processes and strengthen professional performance. It is equally our task to create public awareness about architecture and influence Government policies having bearing on architecture at the same time. We are conscious that architectural profession in collaboration with other related expertise has to give a form to our ideals and concept, the task which not only is the concern of our profession alone but equally so of all those who have interest in our civilization. This problem is tending to be serious with our population growth as by the year 2,000 A.D. population of this country will have doubled and unless we make a start with right approach, it may be too late to set things right.
I am sorry to state that we as a profession have no impact on the society so far these years and shall not be able to do so unless we equip ourselves to take up desired responsibility both in private as well as Government spheres. The work of all P.W.Ds including that of C.P.W.D., State Housing Boards and public sector undertakings show that architects in these organisations have been working under conditions which do not contribute to wards creative performance. One that they do not have desired condition congenial for good work and second that they have no contact with construction work with the result their ideas are mutilated in the process. Unless architects in Government organisations have status — not in a snobbish sense but in the sense of position to take responsibility the present performance cannot change. This requires a rational policy at Government level. It is desirable to have policies where architectural talent can blossom and that young professionals with talent can be attracted to Government work. I am sorry to say that in spite of Government keenness to use professionals effectively and setting committees to study and advise them, this problem has not been able to make any headway. The present Government policies have made works department static and requires a break through by injecting vitality either of taking capable people on short term contract basis or have participation of professionals who have already demonstrated in the field in addition to organising competitions to bring out unknown young talents. It is worth making a note that Asia 72 exhibition was an exception of Government normal process where they had participation of Government and private agencies and was indeed a success. I commend the services rendered by H. Rahman the then Chief Architect, C.P.W.D. in this connection.
With the amount of money Government P.W.Ds. are spending on their departmental expenses which is about 12 to 20% of cost of project has no bearing on the work performance. This is more than double normal architects professional charges. With the present shortage of essential materials and in cumbersome procedure the methodology of planning and construction needs considerable overhauling if we have to keep up to the needs of nation. The magnitude of our problems is growing in a geometre profession whereas the techniques of implementation are static basically. The need of the time essentially is in conserving and rationing material resources through techniques so that they serve population. It is equally important to orient planning and construction techniques which will accelerate programmes of implementation with effective work performance. It is in such activity that Government will have to set up several teams on competitive basis. Setting up centralised organisation in any activity has not shown results so far in the past.
The present working of National Institutions like Central Build ing Research Institute, National Buildings Organisation, Public Works Departments and Town Planning Organisations though each fulfilling its task well in isolation has not yet been able to offer effective dividend in the way of social benefits when considerable funds are being spent on these organisations. It is high time we set up a resource pool of knowledgeable people and have understanding with these institutions, and evolve an effective way to synthesise problems of human habitation based on inter-disciplinary approach for the welfare of the community. The need of setting up methodology of bridging these organisations is long awaited. The aesthetic and social need of the present time unlike the past is essentially tied to the appropriateness and setting up intrinsic values based on set criteria within the limiting resource factors. It is time that Government set up an urban research and design organisation embodying expertise of all the above organisations together with architectural expertise on a priority basis to tackle problems of urban areas. Many a time the good work done by these organisations is not carried forward for the want of right design synthesis with the result that national resources spent on these organisations are unable to give desired return. The urban and rural problems under different situations of planning and designing for different densities of housing, including housing for economically weaker section of community be tackled on priority basis and the institute will be pleased to assist in organising such a task.
I like to commend the work of many of our young architects for their high degree of performance, credit of which surely goes to our educational institutions. We must recognise at the same time that there is a considerable scope for improvement in our educational standards. It is time we utilise the existing talent of professional experience to the benefit of the education in order to set desired educational standards in this country. Although existing educational approach through established curriculum has been functioning for quite some time, it is tending to create some degree of uniformity and therefore partially tending to be regimental. Ideally it is the right of institutions to have their own concept of architectural education based either on sociological, technological or visual and philosophical goals with sound policy towards faculty working either on long or short term basis. It is essential that the educational institutes which are tending to be isolated islands be bridged by exchange faculty wherever possible at least within a region by the introduction of rowing professors and scholars at the same time work out possibilities of improving education of qualified architects on a continuing basis.
The entire educational process therefore needs be placed on three tier with existing resources:
- By strengthening existing in situations by reorienting policies towards faculties, students and physical facilities.
- By linking institutions to mutual benefits within a region through exchange of teachers and activities of common interest through research.
- By organising continuing education and training for qualified architects by pooling together efforts of educational institutes professional expertise on short term basis. Our institute is better equipped to assist in this process.
It has been the concern of our Institute to provide Councilling facilities to young Architects interested in research programme. Institute is equally interested in the welfare of young employed Architects.
I am pleased to mention that architectural community is happy and compliment the Government of India for bringing into effect Architects Registration Bill. The practice followed by the Government and Public Sector in the past of appointing professionals by inviting quotations to satisfy the so called audit system will now come to an end. It is proved time and again that the fraction of architect’s fee saved through such bids cost the Government manifold through ultimate cost of the project with average overall performance. Buildings built up by the Government agencies through such processes have left a bad mark of our times. I take this opportunity to commend the services rendered by our members in helping the Government processing this Bill in the past. We look forward to the working of registration council in guiding and helping the Government in the implementation process of this Bill, in close collaboration with our institute.
Delhi Urban Art Commission Bill
We are equally thankful to the Government of India for having taken decision to introduce for the first time Delhi Urban Art Commission through an Act of Parliament as a result of the efforts which our institute has been pursuing. It is our hope that all major cities will have such Commissions in order to set aesthetic standards for urban regions. Such Commissions will certainly help in creating better physical environment and weed out undesirables at their inception.
The present constitution of our institution has been functioning right from the inception of this institution and was quite appropriate at the time when it came in to being. With only one School of Architecture at Bombay functioning during that time and with most of the members around Bombay region, things worked well in the past with such a constitution. However, with more than sixteen Schools functioning throughout the country with architects in various regions, the present constitution needs rational thinking to enable members to feel a sense of participation in the institute affairs. The present council has accepted the revision in the constitution where it should be possible to have federation of four regional centres at Bombay, Delhi, Madras and Calcutta all tied to the headquarters. The new constitution will allow representation of members in the Council based on the strength of members in a particular region and the council meetings will take place at each region with one at the headquarters. It is our hope that the new constitution will provide greater autonomy to the regions, also will help members wi th a sense of participation and belonging in the affairs of the headquarters. Our efforts will be to bring the new constitution into force as early as possible.
As you are aware our institute has been the member of both the International Union of Architects and the Commonwealth Association of Architects during the past several years. It is encouraging to note that our institute has played its part significantly in this international community during these years. I am happy to state that our institution has been honoured by their decision to offer our office bearers the highest status in their organisations. Mr J. R. Bhalla, our past President, has been elected President of Commonwealth Association of Architects and Vice President of International Union of Architects. I like to congratulate Mr. Bhalla for having organised with untiring efforts working session of International Union of Architects in New Delhi last February where India played host and 30 countries participated in the deliberations. I must mention that the institute’s participation in these organisation has various advantages not only in terms of their funding benefits and documentation facilities but these organisations offer opportunities for young architects to expose themselves to varieties of professional experiences abroad if they so desire through travel programmes. This we feel helps in developing the appreciation for education and research which is very important.
Lastly I like to mention that we have been going through a heart-searching and self-questioning process in order to be able to serve the cause of the institute more purposefully and I shall be more than happy to receive suggestions from the members, which will strengthen our objectives.
In conclusion I like to reiterate that I shall do my best to pursue activity that will help professional proficiency of excellence with quest for quality on one hand and goals based on needs of community on the other and even follow path which is unconventional to accelerate this process. It needs no mention that the success and fulfilment of our goals entirely depends on your support, understanding and guidance.