On December 10, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone for the new parliament which will be completed and coincide with the 75th year of independence of the year 2022. Prime minister Narendra Modi, presiding over the bhumi pooja of the new parliament building, amidst the chant of Sanskrit slogans, Aayat, and Verses, formally marks the process of the new parliament. This new parliament is expected to be ready on the 75th Independence Day of India, which Is two years down the line. Spread over a sprawling 64,500 square meters, it will be the crown jewel of the central vista project and will cost around a thousand crore rupees. The crown plus six-floor building will be triangular in shape and will have six gates, much bigger than the current parliament, and will be able to seat 888 MP in Lok Sabha and 326 MPs in the Rajya Sabha.
The state emblem of India, four lions facing four different directions will be placed atop the new parliament complex. The old will make way for the new. But what happened to this iconic round building that has seen democracy through for the last 100 years? The old parliament will retire and be preserved. Who knows, perhaps one day it will open up to the public as a museum dedicated to India’s long tryst with democracy. Not just the Parliament House, the entire central vista along the Rajput is being reimagined and will change how Delhi looks and walks. What a beautiful dream to have. The government believes that this will be a monument to the new India and for India’s democracy. In fact, the prime minister said that the world will look at India as ‘the mother of democracy’. But many questions are left unanswered. Farmers are protesting in the capital city.
Many farmers are even seeking death because they cannot pay their due money. And currently, we are dealing with an unprecedented pandemic. India holds the second position after America to have the greatest number of COVID-19 cases. And the transmission in-country seems to slow down. We don’t need to mention the reality of how the Indian economy is headed South. We saw such a big recession in our GDP this year, which is worse than the last 5 years. While the farmers are dying, and the pandemic isn’t anywhere showing signs of an end and time where the Indian economy seems to be hitting gutters, the government wants to build a six-floor parliament with 1000 crore money. Doesn’t this sound absurd? In such a case, does this 1000 crore monument necessary? But the prime minister Narendra Modi seems to think this as Atmanirbhar Bharat’s new tryst of democracy!
PM claims, the construction of the building will be done by Indians, the materials will be bought from Indians, the labor will be Indians and hence this will be a vocal for local things. Not only that, the reason for the need for a new parliament is because the old one is built by the British. But the government seems to get the facts wrong. British build their buildings strong and with good materials. The British didn’t get the money from Great Britain, the parliament was built on our money. Their claim that the parliament is 100 years old and needs a new one is not much of an answer. The White House seems to be 200 years old. Being the richest and most developed country in the world, they have no shortage of resources, they can build an entire modern city and name its parliament. But they didn’t, because they know the value of money. Many buildings in India are older and through repair and management are being preserved and maintained properly and those buildings seem to function just fine. so this cannot be taken as a valid reason to spend literally 1000 crore on a new building when so many other things are waiting to get attention.
Now, let’s rethink which option it is. Is it really an Atmanirbhar Bharat’s new tryst with destiny or has the government got its priority wrong? Definitely, it seems like the government has its priorities wrong. The current parliament can accommodate up to 700 MP in Lok Sabha and 900 in the central one. If you were to get the delimitation of seats in place, even then this parliament just has to scientifically manage the seating plan. It can seat them all. The point of the matter here is. The government does not have money to pay the DA to the central government employees, the government don’t have money to pay the STSC scholarship, the government doesn’t have to money to pay the state’s share of GST, the government don’t have the money to pay the pensions for army veteran, why is the government going in for this? This is the taxpayer’s money, why is the government so keen on spending it on some building?
If the government does what to improve public infrastructure then, spend on hospitals, spend on infrastructure that will help people. In COVID, we realize, how important new hospitals are, how required they are. As a matter of public spending, there are lots and lots of public works where the same amount of money could spend which would substantially add to the capacity and capability of health infrastructure and many other things in the country. There was also an estimate that over 11 completely new all Indian medical institutes could be set up for the same amount of money and we are severely underequipped in terms of health infrastructure throughout the country. And as a matter of statistics, after Africa, India has the highest number of backward populations. In other terms, there are millions of people on the brink of starvation. The government could have spent this money on the development of people’s lives. Could have come up with food provision schemes.
Could have invested for the welfare of farmers. Could have made a trade with them for a good amount and use that to feed millions of Indians. So, the same amount of money could be spent on such things for which there is a crying need. So, if the money has to be spent, there are many other options which could be considered. The question is all the decisions which are being taken, are they being taken with some considered and analysis of the pros and cons? Have options been considered? This year, whether we have a vaccine or not, the prime minister does seem to be laying a lot of foundation stones. The government needs to realize that, the country cannot develop just because it has beautiful parliament or monuments, it is developed only when the lives of the people develop with it.