17 June, 2021

On Why New Delhi Was Such A Capital Idea

A sepia parade presents a gathering imperial dusk, a democratic inheritance and hope for a lasting legacy

Tribhuvan Tiwari
On Why New Delhi Was Such A Capital Idea

Even if it was difficult, the shifting of the capital of British India from Calcutta to Delhi was perhaps inevitable. The unexpected proclamation by King George V at the end of his grand coronation durbar was a decision that had a far-reaching effect. Many historical and fictional accounts of the period between 1911 and 1931 capture the atmosphere of the times but this meticulously researched photographic record of the transformation of Raisina Hill into the seat of the imperial government is rewarding for both Delhi-wallahs and others.

The choice of Mala Singh is appropriate, given her close relationship with the family that built New Delhi. But she is also in a sense the Victoria Ocampo of New Delhi, at whose dining table one can meet some of the best minds of our times. The anecdotes one hears there range from informative to downright hilarious. If someone knows Delhi, it is Mala—ably supported by her deeply insightful spouse, Tejbir Singh or Jugnu, great grandson of Sujan Singh.

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