New Central Vista must enshrine universal values that defy narcissism of identities

Bimal Patel’s plan for a revamped Central Vista in New Delhi is glaringly unimaginative and bound to find a place in chronicles listing urban banalities and missed opportunities. Impositions that appear in the ‘evolving plan’ created by the much ‘Favoured Architect’ seem to let down even the colluding Central Authority that plotted its possibility. The conspiracy with deeper roots, builds on an earlier Planning Commission report advocated quietly by the powers then. Eager to push individual agendas at the nation’s collective expense, the shoddy resultant articulated recently emerges from tactical misadventures in both programme and design. The stiff ‘napkin sketch’ pressured and bankrupt without ideas and skills remains qualitatively inelastic and underdeveloped. Perhaps it could be best used to wipe the proposed design slate. All this requires serious introspection that charts starting all over.

Against the backdrop of an environmental and financial crisis, this new distraction is driven by old formulas of power, legacy, empirical ideas of governance and financial gain.1  The intent carries a pattern of continuities established by the "sense of a maverick that can simply solve all problems" identified in a priority list of the establishment that have nothing to do with the nation’s pressing concerns.


  • 1. The plan restricted by its attitude of grabbing up land parcels should instead bring every inch of it in meaningful and ingenious use. In doing so it could scale the ordinary and the monumental in an inventive order, sprinkled with autonomous components allowing the possibility to disperse authority and be more about people. Even the colonial plan in its articulation had utilized domes and other elements sprinkled within the thick foliage to stand out independently in a diverse manner to reinforce individuality within a monumental arena. It offered the possibility of a duality within which individuals and the collective all had equal place. Monumentality created with typological differentiation has richer possibilities and dividends.