March 1, 2012 2:29:22 am
Days after the Delhi government quietly let December 12,2011,slip past without any fanfare at the site of the Coronation Durbar 100 years ago,a towering flagpost is being constructed there to unfurl the Tricolour,possibly this Independence Day,to mark the citys centenary.
The 31-metre-high flagpost is coming up near the 21-m commemorative obelisk at the spot where King George V and Queen Mary sat in the 1911 Durbar and announced the shifting of the capital of British India from Calcutta to Delhi.
A permanent exhibition at the site in North Delhi is being carefully drawn up. Project designers have been working on a storyline that will deftly avoid glorifying the Durbar or the Raj.
The flagpost near the obelisk was suggested by The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH),a heritage body that was asked by the Delhi Development Authority to redevelop the Coronation Park.
The permanent exhibition will avoid dwelling so much on the three durbars held there but focus on the evolution of New Delhi as the Capital. The exhibition storyline is proposed to be vetted by an expert committee so that no wrong message goes out to visitors.
INTACH Delhi Chapters convenor A G K Menon told Newsline: This is an exhibition that will make a national statement and we have to be careful with the message it gives out. We have written to the DDA to set up an expert committee comprising noted historians who can vet the storyline for the exhibition.
Earlier,if we went wrong with the storyline or the historicity,we could change it. But in this case,the exhibition will be carved in stone and be made a permanent one. We cannot go wrong with it. Somebody has to take responsibility for the slant that the storyline takes in the exhibition, Menon said.
Exhibition designer and researcher Siddhartha Chatterjee said: Over the last 150 years,the area around Kingsway Camp has been witness to several key moments in the history of Delhi and its inhabitants. The exhibition attempts to examine each of these and their present-day resonances. Viewing events from the perspective of independent India in 2012,we are trying to reflect on our diverse past,which includes colonial times and their present-day legacies.
The mention of British imperial spectacle does not by any means make this a celebration of the Raj. We hope the exhibition will provide an opportunity to think about the many complex events in the past that have come to shape Delhi in the present, Chatterjee said.
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