05 August, 2021

When The First Dew Had Just Evaporated

The unsure steps into teenagehood marked a year of lost illusions. It laid the foundations of the modern state and determined India's role in global politics.

Courtesy: Forefreont, The Times of India
When The First Dew Had Just Evaporated
Like most thirteen-year-olds, independent India in 1960 was undergoing radical physical changes. A pubertal spurt of modernist construction was under way—from Chandigarh in the North to the LIC building in Madras. Emblematic of this adolescent transformation was New Delhi’s Indian International Centre, for it was here, during 1960, that the foundational principles of Nehru’s modernist vision were assuming a concrete form. Avoiding the grandiose pomp of late colonial architecture and the curlicued ornamentation of traditional Indian building, the IIC was an elegant, low-rise assemblage of geometric forms encapsulating the rational, planned beauty and democratic accessibility of modern India. Its purpose was emblematic too. Intended as a meeting point for a cosmopolitan liberal intelligentsia, it signalled India’s commitment to the third way—non-aligned internationalism. But even as it was being built, the heady idealistic inspiration behind the IIC was evaporating. Nehru was fading, and with him the dream of planning. Democracy was...

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