Colonialism and City

Planning A New Capital

Symbolic Importance of Delhi: Since the British had realized the symbolic importance of Delhi, they began to hold spectacular events in Delhi. For example; Viceroy Lytton organized a Durbar in 1877 to acknowledge Queen Victoria as the Empress of India. It was important for the British to celebrate their power with pomp and show in the city which had been the capital of the Mughal emperors.

Change of the Capital: When King George was crowned in England, a Durbar was held in Delhi in 1911 to celebrate the occasion. This occasion was used for announcing the decision to shift the capital of India from Calcutta to Delhi.

New Delhi was constructed as a 10-square-mile city on Raisina Hill, which lay to the south of the existing city. Two architects, Edward Lutyens and Herbert Baker, were called on to design New Delhi and its buildings. The government complex in New Delhi consisted of a two-mile avenue, Kingsway (now Rajpath). The Kingsway t led to the Viceroy’s Palace (now Rashtrapati Bhavan). The Secretariat buildings were built on either sides of the avenue.


Fusion of Different Architecture: The features of these government buildings were borrowed from different periods of India’s imperial history. But the overall look was kept Classical Greece (fifth century BCE). For example, the central dome of the Viceroy’s Palace was copied from the Buddhist stupa at Sanchi. The red sandstone and carved screens or jails were borrowed from Mughal architecture. The Viceroy’s Palace was made higher than the Jama Masjid; in order to assert British importance.

New Theme of the New City: It took nearly 20 years to build New Delhi. A new city was to be built as a stark contrast to Shahjahandab. Compared to the crowded mohallas and mazes of narrow bylanes of the Old Delhi, there were broad, straight streets in New Delhi. Sprawling mansions were built in the middle of large compounds. New Delhi had to represent a sense of law and order; in contrast to the chaos of Old Delhi. Overcrowded spaces were seen by the British as unhygienic and unhealthy; the source of disease. Hence, New Delhi had to have better water supply, sewage disposal and drainage facility. It had to be green, with trees and parks to ensure fresh air and adequate supply of oxygen.


Life in the time of Partition

The Partition of India took place in 1947. It led to a massive transfer of populations on both sides of the new border. The population of Delhi swelled as a result. The kind of occupations of people changed. The culture of the city became entirely different.

Mass Migration:

After independence and partition, fierce rioting began. Thousands of people in Delhi were killed. Their homes were looted and burned. Hordes of Muslims left for Pakistan and their place was taken by equally large numbers of Sikh and Hindu refugees from Pakistan. Refugees roamed the streets of Shahjahanbad, in search of empty homes to occupy. They even forced the Muslims to leave or sell their properties. Over two-thirds of the Muslims from Delhi migrated. Almost 44Settlement of Refugees: Delhi became a city of refugees. About 500,000 people were added to Delhi’s population which was about 800,000 at that time. Most of the migrants came from Punjab. They stayed in camps, schools, military barracks and gardens. Some got the opportunity to occupy the vacant residences, others were accommodated in refugee colonies. New colonies; like Lajpat Nagar and Tilak Nagar came up at this time. Shops and stalls opened to cater to the demands of the migrants. Schools and colleges were also opened.

Need to Change Skills Set:

The skills and the occupations of the refugees were altogether different from those who had been replaced. Most of the Muslims who went to Pakistan were artisans, petty traders and labourers. The new migrants who came to Delhi were rural landlords, lawyers, teachers, traders and small shopkeepers. But partition changed their lives and their occupations. However, many of them prospered in their new occupations.

The large-scale migration from Punjab changed the social fabric of Delhi. Earlier, it was an urban culture which was largely based on Urdu. The earlier culture was overshadowed by new tastes and sensibilities; in food, dress and arts. overshadowed by new tastes and sensibilities; in food, dress and arts.



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