Change: New Delhi in the 1950s and ’60s was a Capital in a hurry to grow up. And so the additions continued — a university here, a milk plant there, a civic centre, a supermarket, a cinema hall, a Golf Club...
Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD)
The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) came into existence in 1958 when the erstwhile Delhi Municipal Committee and different local bodies in the city were merged together. The corporation — which is amongst the largest municipal bodies in the world — came into existence on April 7, under an act of Parliament. Initially, Town Hall in Chandni Chowk, which was built in 1866 by the British served as the MCD headquarter. Later, in 2011, the headquarters were shifted to the Civic Centre on Minto Road. The body has jurisdiction over the entire area of Delhi, barring certain areas that fall under the New Delhi Municipal Committee and the Delhi Cantonment Board. The agency covers 96% of the city and caters to 97% of the population.
Delhi Milk Scheme
Queuing up early in the morning outside the Delhi Milk Scheme (DMS) booth to buy bottled milk is one ritual that generations of Delhiites have grown up with. Earlier known as the Delhi Milk Supply Scheme, it was renamed DMS in 1959 and its primary objective was to supply hygienic milk to Delhi citizens at reasonable prices, and provide remunerative prices to milk producers. Starting from tin sheds where cows were milked and the product put in sealed cans to be distributed in trucks across the Capital, now DMS provides 5 lakh litres of milk everyday in plastic packs to Delhiites. Apart from supplying milk, DMS now also manufactures ghee, table butter, yoghurt, paneer, chhachh and flavoured milk. DMS now procures milk from the State Dairy Federations of neighbouring states.
Delhi Golf Club
Spread over 220 acres of land in the heart of the Capital, the Delhi Golf Club — one of the oldest golf clubs in Asia — is home to many professional tournaments, including the Indian Open. The Club became a corporate entity on February 24, 1950 and its course was redesigned by golfer Peter Thomson through 1976 to 77. The course was originally laid out by the British as Lodhi Club, integrating existing Mughal structures and tombs into the course. In the 1950s, the foundering member of the club — Dharma Vira — requested then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to ensure that the club stayed put, bringing glory and prestige to the Capital of India. Last month, the club celebrated hundred years of playing golf in the Capital. The club has a pub, a lounge, dining hall, swimming pool, health club, card room, club halls and banquette.
The now defunct Super Bazar, which only has a closed building and a nearby bus stop named after it as its remnants, was once a part of the every day life of Delhiites. The Delhi-based Super Bazar was established in 1966 to provide quality products to the citizens of the Capital at reasonable prices after the acute scarcity of day-to-day goods seen during the 1965 India-Pakistan war. The retail outlets and mobile vans that supplied household goods and foodstuff across the Capital were very popular with Delhi’s middle class. As a result of financial mismanagement, however, the supermarket started accumulating huge losses in the 1970s. It was finally closed down in 2001 and efforts to revive it are yet to fructify.
Opened in 1961, Shiela Theatre on DB Gupta Road, Paharganj, was the country’s first cinema hall with a 70mm screen. In fact, constructing the theatre’s building was quite a challenge. There were no architects or technicians having any previous experience of designing a theatre with such a large screen. So, the owner — DC Kaushish — who had seen the successful commercial trials of 70mm in New York and wanted to bring this new system to India, sought the services of Ben Schlanger, world authority on motion picture theatre and auditorium design. Schlanger, as chief consultant, collaborated with professor Cyril Harris of Columbia University to design the acoustics of the theatre. He also helped in installing a six-track sound system. This iconic theatre — which is still going strong in these times of multiplexes — has boasted of several famous patrons, including then President Zakir Hussain and Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
Jawaharlal Nehru University: A research-oriented postgraduate university, the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) today has approximately 5,500 students. It was established in 1969 by an act of parliament and was named after Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister. The objective of the founders was to make the university an institution of higher learning and promote research and teaching that would lead students as well as teachers to a higher level of academic work and national and international policy making. G Parthasarathy was the university’s first vice-chancellor. JNU’s building, located in south Delhi, is an example of the new red brick universities built in the mid-twentieth century.