A testament to the Capital's transformation
From hospitals to museums to educational institutions to a zoo - New Delhi witnessed the emergence of several landmark institutions in the first two decades after Independence. These soon became icons of national importance.delhi Updated: Nov 17, 2011 17:01 IST
Delhi Public Library
The story of the Delhi Public Library - one of the city's most important institutions - began in 1944. General Sir Claude Auchinleck, then commander-in-chief of the Indian Army, was keen to have a library with a magnificent building. He approached industrialist Ramkrishna Dalmia to help with funds to construct a building for the library. Dalmia readily agreed and donated all or most of the amount for the library building that was constructed on Queens Road (SP Mukherjee Marg).
It was called the Delhi Public Library in 1951, after the Delhi Library Board acquired the building. In the beginning, the library had only 8,000 books in three languages - Hindi, English and Urdu. Today, it has around 18 lakh books, and boasts of several branches across the city. It also has a fleet of mobile vans, which serve in every nook and corner of the city.
All India Institute of Medical Sciences
Built in 1956, AIIMS is not only one of the most prestigious medical colleges in the country, but also offers cutting edge medical care. It was built with a generous grant from the government of New Zealand. AIIMS was established in New Delhi after former Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru's initial proposal to set up the institute in Calcutta was shot down by then West Bengal CM Dr Bidhan Chandra Roy. The institution was the vision of Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, the first health minister of India. In its report published in 1946, the Health Survey and Development Committee recommended the establishment of a national medical centre to serve as a nucleus for nurturing excellence in all aspects of health care. An act of Parliament in 1956 established it as an autonomous institution.
It was in 1952 that the need to have a zoo in the national Capital was felt by the Indian Board for Wildlife. The site between Purana Quila and Humayun's Tomb was approved in 1953 to build the zoo. Major Weinmann, director of the Ceylon Zoological Garden, Colombo, was invited to help draw a coordinated plan for the development of the park. Finally, a general layout plan of waterways, roads and paths, animal enclosures and sewage system was formulated in March 1956. With the announcement of the establishment of a zoological park in Delhi, gifts of animals started coming from states and individuals. Till the zoo was built, the animals were kept in temporary enclosures around Azimganj Sarai, an enclosed courtyard built for halt for travellers during the Mughal days.
Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)
The concept of the IITs was first introduced in a report in the year 1945 by NM Sircar, then member of Education on Viceroy's Executive Council. Following his recommendations, the first Indian Institute of Technology was established in the year 1950 in Kharagpur. This was followed by IITs at Mumbai, Chennai, Kanpur and Delhi. For IIT-Delhi, the government of India negotiated with the British government for a collaboration. The British government agreed, but only for a modest beginning. It was therefore agreed that a college of engineering and technology would be established at Delhi with their assistance. This college was later declared an Institution of National Importance under the Institute of Technology (Amendment) Act 1963 and was renamed Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi. It was then accorded the status of a university.
India International Centre (IIC)
The idea for the India International Centre (IIC) was first mooted by John D Rockefeller III. He suggested setting up of an international house on the model of Tokyo's International House of Japan. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, who immediately liked the idea, took a lot of interest in the selection of a site for the building, adjacent to Lodi Gardens. Eventually, Joseph Allen Stein was selected to design the building. The building comprises two wings - one for accommodation, while the other houses public facilities including auditoriums, conference room and library.
Sir Ganga Ram Hospital
The Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in west Delhi was originally founded in 1921 at Lahore by Sir Ganga Ram (1851-1927), a civil engineer and leading philanthropist of his time. The current hospital was built at the site after the partition of the country in 1947. The land allotted to the hospital was approximately 11 acres. The foundation was laid in April 1951 by the then Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru and inaugurated by him on April 13, 1954. The hospital, one of the premier medical institutions in the Capital, continues to maintain its charitable character, as per the wishes of its founder. The money generated from the hospital services are partially utilised for providing free health care to the poor and needy patients.
The National Museum was founded due to a chance happening. An exhibition of Indian art was held in Burlington House, London in 1947-48. At the end of the event, it was decided that the same collection would be exhibited in New Delhi.
The exhibition was held in the state rooms of the Rashtrapati Bhawan, New Delhi, in 1949. The event was a huge success and led to the creation of the National
Museum, which was inaugurated at Rashtrapati Bhawan on August 15, 1949, by the governor-general of India, C Rajagopalachari. The
museum was moved to its current location at Janpath in 1960. Today, the museum boasts of approximately 2,00,000 artifacts that go back to more than 5,000 years.