It is very likely that if you are reading this, you could be a proud owner of a grand, exclusive, Supreme Court ratified and enshrined under the mighty Architect Act 1972 title of an “architect” (which is actually a creative way of writing half a paragraph that means nothing).
If I am to use a thesaurus to describe your mental state over last couple of weeks, especially with the Central Vista project presentations floating around in cyber space, my money is on affronted, antagonized, exacerbated, tumultuous and other ten plus letter words (that you may know better) that we commoners refer to as angry.
It is clear that you have a lot of opinions, and you must have, as the discourse is about a subject of your expertise, but the most curious part of this drama is that no one who matters seems to be care about your opinion.
The political establishment is least bothered, the bureaucracy, as always is highly bemused by your hue and cry about a subject they think you know nothing about, the general public is unable to understand what is bothering you, and worse, even those who are successful and thus possible opinion-leaders of your own community are also too busy to act on what you imagine to be the end of the world.
While you must be frustrated as your opinion, even in a subject of your expertise has no takers, but as a member of Indian society, I really worried.
When the Architects Act was enacted, it was clear that wise men sitting in the parliament saw the need of a moral guardian in the construction and real estate sector that has huge implications for the society.
They thought that a law will empower the architects to form a guild, a fraternity and a community that will be able to control how India builds her human habitat.
Sadly, the delusion of empowerment made available to CoA was unsuccessfully used to subvert the engineering professionals. As CoA attempted to assert its imaginary exclusivity through litigating, all that an “architect” is left with is a claim to the word and title of “architect”, a fig leaf that covers almost nothing.
The net result is, instead of architects ending up with a guild with a voice and a say in the nation building, they ended up with a headless chicken of a community without a leadership, and worse, zero unity and thus, not an iota of a ability to stand up for a collective cause.
As architects have failed to come together and have a voice in how we build a brave new India, it is clear that we need an alternative that can prevent forces of commerce from destroying the social values that a human habitat must respond to.
The idea of a professional guild is used when there is a lot of subjectivity and a need of evolving new norms and guiding principles, but as such a guild has not manifested from the Architects Act, it may be wiser to scarp it, as it has failed to serve its purpose.
It may be wiser to accept that architecture in modern era is closer to business than profession and architectural practice should be left to find its own definition.
But, such a move will create a massive void in a sector that has proven to be lawless even when CoA existed, and hence we badly need to find a way to turn the subjective into objective for the sake of the society at large.
While, an empowered architect would have been a great moral guardian for construction industry, it is clearly a failed model for India. It may have been worthwhile to experiment with the idea by tweaking it, but the practical reality is that we, as a nation has really lagged behind and we have no time for exploration.
If individual architects want to experiment with values, they should continue doing so but India needs people with ability to follow rules and the state must provide clear construction by-laws that will lead to making society-friendly buildings and allow all those competent to follow them to design buildings.
Architectural schools must be allowed to define the qualities and values they want in the people, but the right to practice must be defined purely on the bases of objective competence of following the rules through an exit exam regardless of the educational qualification.
While there will be a practical issue of making by-laws that can reflect social responsibility that a professional is expected to have, but considering the existing ground reality, such a move will surely be an improvement to what is currently happening across India.