Update, AKAA-2004: ...The party to humble all parties was hosted by no less than the Aga Khan at Humayun's Tomb, a celebration that history has no choice but to flag for rare humiliation...
This is to invite you on occasion of Aga Khan Award for Architecture – AKAA – Ninth Cycle Award ceremony to a celebration at the residence of Mr Neehar Raina (D-132, Andheria Morh, Vasant Kunj). I am aware this invitation must seem extremely odd, but it is not so at all for several reasons, of which three directly related to it are as follows.
The reason for celebrating at residence of Mr Raina is that Mr Raina is Delhi-based Architect whose project was honoured with the Eighth Cycle Award. However, he was not honoured at the Eighth Cycle Award ceremony – because his client, an NGO, claimed his Award for architectural excellence by claiming that the project came to pass without an architect. The AKAA subsequently acknowledged the mistake and awarded a certificate to Mr Raina and included his name in the citation. The Trophy and Prize Money are presumably still with his client. Delhi’s professional institutions stayed clear of the “controversy” and government also did not intervene. Even after Aga Khan Foundation, which was sponsoring at the time the restoration of Humayun’s Tomb where the Ninth Cycle Award Ceremony is being held, had admitted the Eighth Cycle mistake, no one even felicitated Mr Raina. Those mandated, by their positions of professional trusteeship, to have done so are presumably invited, by virtue of the very positions they failed, to the Ninth Cycle ceremony. Mr Raina is not invited to it.
The reason for me to extend this invitation arises from broader concerns about professional space issues and about anomie. In case of AKAA, before Mr Raina’s Eighth Cycle award that involved violation of professional law, AKAA awards in Seventh and Sixth Cycles had been conferred on projects involving violations of development law in India. On all three I failed to evoke concern in my government or professional institutions. In response to an e-mail to the Foundation following reports earlier this year about plans to hold the Award Ceremony at the Taj I was invited to meet AKAA Director when he was here in May. My concerns about the need to tighten up the award process were, I think, well received. On 24th morning I received a call from AKAA to invite me to the award ceremony on 27th and the banquet afterwards. I accepted the invitation to the ceremony, but not the banquet for reasons discussed in the meeting in May. I also inquired if Mr Raina had been invited and, when told not yet, suggested that he be. Later I was happy to receive Mr Raina’s open invitation to all to join / arrange a party, on suggestion of his children, to celebrate AKAA at his house on Saturday evening. I have volunteered secretarial help, hence this invitation.
The reason for inviting you to a private celebration at Mr Raina’s residence is that, as per news reports, you are Chief Guest for the one at Humayun’s Tomb. It is a matter of honour for the global architecture profession that the ceremony for its best known award for excellence should be graced by Prime Minister of India, especially since India contributes significantly to the global pool of architectural skills, shortly to be opened up to global trade. It would be honour indeed if you would also grace the celebration of the award for excellence with the architect who won it for India.
I do hope you will not dismiss this invitation even if you are unable to accept it. I am sending it to your residence by courier, as advised on phone by your staff, and will call tomorrow the number given to me to inquire. I will also bring a copy to the Award Ceremony on 27th.
Gita Dewan Verma
(Text of letter dated December 16, 2004 from PS to Prime Minister)
"Dear Ms. Verma,
I write to acknowledge receipt of your letter of November 25, inviting the Prime Minister to a function at the residence of Mr. Neehar Raina.
I regret that due to prior commitments, the Prime Minister was unable to attend the function.
The Prime Minister conveys his best wishes to Mr. Raina for his future creative endeavours.