Letter from Head, Rizvi College of Architecture, Mumbai

Rizvi College of Architecture, 
Off Carter Road, Bandra West, 
Mumbai 400 050 

December 15, 2003

Honourable Shri Murli Manohar Joshiji,
Minister for Human Resource Development,
Government of India,
New Delhi

Sub: Crisis in Architectural Education

Honourable Shri Murli Manohar Joshiji,

As you are aware India has a rich heritage of architecture dating back to time immemorial, which has been a great source of national pride and inspiration throughout our illustrious history.

Architecture is art and science of built environment, which reflects the artistic and cultural achievements of a given society in space and time. Architecture as a discipline is closely connected to the disciplines of fine arts and culture. Therefore, whenever we study history of any civilization we always refer to its culture and understand its culture through architecture, art and literature.

India has had an undisturbed tradition of architecture for more than 10,000 years of human history. Architecture as an art and science was codified in our Vastu- Shashras long before the word engineering was coined in 1750 A.D. in Europe. Architecture has always responded to the needs and aspirations of our people, our culture and lifestyle in its rich diversity and unity, the quality that the whole world recognizes as Indian.

Today, Indian Architects are known throughout the world for their creativity and innovation and their contribution in creation of architecture of substance and excellence. The development of Architectural profession in India has been guided by the collective creative endeavour of architects. They have evolved their own system of architectural education, which is the oldest in Asia and is known world wide for its excellence. The profession of architecture was guided by the Indian Institute of Architects founded in 1924, which had adopted the norms and standards of professional conduct and guidelines for architectural education.

In keeping with the rapid pace of industrialization and urbanization, the country needed a central authority to regulate the profession and education of architects in India. During the 50s and 60s India witnessed rapid urban development and mass construction all around the country. The quality of architecture was compromised by unqualified and unprofessional practice by non-architects. This grave situation led the Government to enact the Architects Act 1972 and constitute the Council of Architecture under the provision of the said Act. Since then the situation has changed radically and the profession and education of architects has been controlled and regulated by the Council of Architecture leading to over all improvement in the quality of architecture.

In 1987, the Government of India enacted AICTE Act for proper planning & co-ordinated development of technical education system throughout the country. It included technical education comprising of engineering, management, pharmacy, architecture, art, town planning and hotel management. Although all the courses were not strictly technical in nature, as a result a lot of complications developed. Since there was duplication and over lapping of functions between AICTE and COA, a memorandum of understanding was signed by the two statutory organizations. It needs to be pointed out that while all other disciplines were dealt by the AICTE architecture continues to be looked after by the Council of Architecture for last 16 years.

We learn with great concern that the Government is considering amendments to theAICTE Act following the recommendations by ACITE committee headed by Prof. Indirasan which recommended that management, pharmacy, hotel management, art and town planning be deleted from the purview of the AICTE but architecture be retained as it is considered a part of civil engineering. We wish to register our strong objection to such a move to make architecture subservient to engineering although it is an independent and separate discipline.

Since the Government of India has constituted a separate Council of Architecture, which has been controlling and regulating architectural education and profession of architecture since 1972, it should continue to do so. To facilitate this, the Government of India, the Ministry of Human Resource Development should take steps to delete the field of architecture from the AICTE Act without any delay.

This is most urgent and critical since Architecture cannot be allowed to be reduced to mere construction or engineering devoid of any cultural and artistic expression. 4 year engineering courses are ill equipped to train architects who have 5 year distinctive courses in architecture followed by specialized masters and doctoral programmes, to create qualified architects capable of expressing their culture and art. Kindly note that any failure in separating architecture from engineering would lead to creation of cultureless construction, without any artistic expression and that would become symbol of indifference of our time. That will be a great shame to us all.

On behalf of the Indian Association of Schools of Architecture established in 1987 incorporating all the colleges and school of Architecture in the country, we have to request you to consider our plea and do the needful to delink architecture from AICTEwithout any further delay and save the culture and art of Indian Architecture.

We have trust in your enlightened approach to Indian culture and heritage and sincerely hope that your immediate consideration and positive action will save Indian Architecture.

With warm regards,

[ signed ]
Yours sincerely,