26 - 05 - 2019

Run for Raisina Hill

All the hills and vales extending over the entire nation are bursting into election wave these days.  Having a strong desire for power, politicians become power hungry. There is bound to be poll result on 23rd May.With their manifestoes of full of promises, voters got bewildered by their sudden love and care for its citizen. They might dream to aspire to those heights in this time. Whatever, they would better run for the Raisina Hill to constitute the 17th Lok Sabha.

 A new star India rises for freedom at midnight after a long struggle for the government of the people, by the people and for the people. Today political culture inspires little faith towards young generation. Does India pose a threat to democracy?

My memory goes back to 21st April 1997, when Mr Inder Kumar Gujral joined his good office as India’s 12th Prime Minister, I walked along the Rajpath without any hindrance towards my destination. I wonder who made such colossal structure. The Mughal made Red Fort the residence of the emperors of their dynasty for nearly 200 years until 1856. Although East India Company rule began in 1757, following unsuccessful uprising of 1857, the Crown rule took direct control of the Indian subcontinent in 1858, shifted their capital from Calcutta to Delhi during Emperor George V and made India’s new imperial capital in 1930. The popular belief went on “the sun would never set on the British Empire”.

I was stepping into Raisina in the morning that set high on a sunny plateau. On a clear day, the panoramic view on the top of Raisina Hill zooming Rashtrapati Bhavan is truly scenic. There are two blocks of symmetrical Secretariat buildings - North and South Block on opposite sides. The narrative about the olden days that many farmers from Raisina and Malcha village turned down the compensation the British government offered for land. History looked back Land Acquisition Act 1894 that permitted acquiring Rasina from 300 families from local villages for the construction of the Viceroy’s House for Lord Hardinge.

The planning and design of the capital New Delhi began in 1911 under British Indian Empire. Architects Sir Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker had designed entire New Delhi. They are from President’s House to Secretariat, Parliament House, war memorial India Gate, National Museum, Rajpath (King’s way), Janpath, Teen Murti Hourse, Safdarjung Airport, National Stadium, extensive residential areas, Connaught Place and Lodhi Garden. The entire area become the proud moment for every Indian. Probably it is India’s Rome. After British left India, Lutyens’ Delhi are now being occupied by bureaucrats and politician.

I took some snaps from my vintage German Agfa, remembering the grand military parade that showcases India’s Armed Forces strength and displaying military might on Republic Day which I did marching along Rajpath in 1990. There wasn’t any pipe and drum bands, buglers and trumpet that played with popular tunes like Abide with me, and Saare Jahan Se Achcha. The avenue is lined on both sides by huge lush green lawns and rows of trees.  I walked fast over the red send carpeted there. Nobody questioned my whereabouts that I was coming from. But I had to find out at Gate No 5 Defence HQ as I had purpose to visit PMO (Prime Minister’s Office) at South Block. It was originally called the Prime Minister’s Secretariat until 1977, when it was renamed during Morarji Desai ministry. Since I was defence personnel, the security officer had instantly arranged a visitor pass for me and took me through a tunnel which was probably a security alarm laser detector. I felt entering Star Trek science fiction television series for adventure. They are no aliens but two commandoes from NSG guided me towards PMO.

There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch on those days from Government offices as the other day I experienced, while my forms were just thrown inside a room at ITO New Delhi for manual ITR submission. But PMO treated me cordially and with respect and I felt welcome by their gesture. It was the office of Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund that accepts voluntary contributions. PMNRF exercise aimed at encouraging donations which can be used to help the needy in natural calamities. It was constituted in January 1948 to assist displaced persons from Pakistan. All contributions are exempt from income tax under section 80(G).

Those days there were no QR code to scan the receipts for donors. I submitted the transaction details of Mr SM Huq, my landlord at Bangalore. No sooner had I finished my favourite beverages - a cup of coffee, than the receipt was ready. It really impressed me by their courteous attitude and professionalism towards visitors. I walked away feeling great from the Lutyen’s architecture that makes my heart swell with pride. Very sooner another government will form at address South Block Raisina Hill, New Delhi – 110011 but my adventure at Raisina, I recalled it one of my most memorable moments of my life on a historic day.

 

Kamal Baruah

The writer is a former Air Warrior and currently working for SBI Dispur. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.