India’s opposition parties are opposing almost every action taken by the Modi Government as an unthinking reflex. If Modi is doing it, it must be bad. It is particularly flummoxed by decisions that look beyond the immediate horizon and anticipate needs ten to fifteen years from now. This is being seen in the criticism being leveled at the decision to construct a new parliamentary building in New Delhi. Knowing full well the rundown state of the present British era construction and not having done anything when they were in power, they resent the fact that the new building will prove a lasting legacy to the Modi period in Indian politics.
Particularly incensed are those who believe themselves to be inheritors of the Lutyen’s legacy, even so far as describing this monument of the British Raj as ‘heritage’. It is not that it is being razed to the ground – it will just not represent the political soul of India. Inasmuch as architecture reflects the culture of a people, the new building will be a break from the past, meeting the very real needs of the Indian Republic. It will reduce further the reverence for our erstwhile British masters, which is second nature for a certain class of people.
There is also, simply, a very practical need for a building that meets the requirements of government and the members of parliament. The number of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha members is slated to increase. Today, even the present number of Lok Sabha members cannot be seated properly. Everything else is proportionately lacking with even the scope for Indian ‘jugaad’ having run out. It is not that India cannot afford such a construction; it actually cannot afford not to have it. There are also security issues and it requires only one’s imagination to know what these could be.
The opposition needs to get out of this mindset. After all, the improved facilities will benefit all. Instead, leaders of the various political parties should be giving their input on what they require or what could be done better. But India can no longer be lagging behind on what has to be done just because of indecisive leadership. The metaphorical ‘Hindu rate of growth’ that weighed down the economy should not become the nature of Indian politics. Good management anticipates the future and does not cling unnecessarily to shibboleths of the past.