Public spaces are important

Published on Sep 08, 2022 08:14 PM IST

The revamped Central Vista is a key reminder that cities need open and safe spaces for all

The Central Vista holds a special space in the Indian consciousness, not only as an imposing edifice of government but also as the living, breathing heart of the Republic. (Central Government) PREMIUM
The Central Vista holds a special space in the Indian consciousness, not only as an imposing edifice of government but also as the living, breathing heart of the Republic. (Central Government)
ByHT Editorial

After 19 months of construction, Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi inaugurated a revamped Central Vista Avenue — the newly renamed Kartavya Path and the gleaming lush lawns lining what is easily India’s most iconic stretch of road. The ceremony also included the PM unveiling a 28-foot-tall statue of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, fulfilling his pledge from earlier this year to train the focus on some freedom fighters whose contribution to the Independence struggle, he said, was less celebrated.

The Central Vista holds a special space in the Indian consciousness, not only as an imposing edifice of government but also as the living, breathing heart of the Republic. It functions as a tourist attraction, a place for people to meet, mingle and interact, for schoolchildren and older citizens alike to catch a moment of levity, share an ice-cream or street food. It is this people-centric touch that has erased the colonial history of the erstwhile Kingsway, and made it truly a people’s square. The overhauled Central Vista Avenue holds similar promise — with vastly improved public amenities, 16.5 km of red granite walkways, refurbished canals, polished facades, special vending zones, improved signages, new pedestrian underpasses, parking spaces, new exhibition panels and upgraded night lighting. The responsibility for maintaining this burnished heritage belongs to both the authorities and the people, but care must be taken that strictures don’t curb access for ordinary people, who, after all, make up the core of nation-building and history-making.

The facelift holds other takeaways. It is a continuation of the philosophy of governance unveiled during the PM’s Independence Day speech. The renaming of the erstwhile Rajpath, in particular, ties in with his push to eradicate colonial symbolism and the new name underscores his belief that citizens have a solemn duty to the nation. The Bose statue is part of the ruling party’s push to expand the vista of the Independence struggle heroes, portray itself as the rightful heir of erstwhile Congress stalwarts (such as Vallabhbhai Patel or Bose), and blame the Nehru-Gandhi family as having arrogated the legacy of the freedom struggle to itself, eclipsing others. Late on Thursday, after the official ceremony is over, the Central Vista will go through another inauguration — by the people, with tens of thousands expected to flock to the new avenue, once again highlighting the importance of having public spaces that are safe and accessible, egalitarian, and a pointer, at once, to both the country’s glorious past, and a future laden with opportunities.

Enjoy unlimited digital access with HT Premium

Subscribe Now to continue reading
freemium
SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
SHARE
Story Saved
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
My Offers
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Saturday, December 10, 2022
Start 15 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
Register Free and get Exciting Deals