By : Mohan Verma
Celebrating 150 years of British Summer Capital of India, Indian Instituted of Advance Study located in one of relic of same era would explore harmonizing colonial inheritance, urban aesthetics and modernization with special reference to this town as two days seminar began on Tuesday.
Inaugurating the first day of the session, Director of IIAS, Prof. Chetan Singh said that various aspects of hill stations established by Britishers across India drawing researchers from different streams to explore peculiarity of such townships, regardless of alien imposition upon the geographical landscapes.
“So deeply entrenched is the imagined ‘Britishness’ in and about the towns that almost seven decades after independence it continue to grip the minds of residents, planners and tourists alike” he added.
“However serious contradiction has always marked their (townships came in Raj day) existence…for Shimla- the most British and Imperial of such retreats, this contradiction now threatens to become a fatal embrace.” Director of IIAS highlighted the apathetic states of landmarks in the town underscoring the need to preserve hill stations founded by the Britishers Additional Chief Secretary (Language & Art) of Himachal Ms. Upma Chaudhary said in her introductory remarks that Shimla has lost its old glory of its colonial civility and grandeurs.
“During frequent annual summer visits to this town since during my (her) childhood from Jalandhar of Punjab, this fact is saddening to note here that Shimla is virtually crying.” “Transformed completely compared to its past with coming up of high rising structure, vanishing public places, landscapes, missing splendid green especially the beauty of Deodars, choking drains and shabby civic places, Ms. Chaudhary lamented.
Speaking on the urbanization of South Asia in the Railway Age (1860-1960, Former Prof. of Jamiya Meliya Islamiya and prominent historian Ms. Narayani Gupta) said that London Metro which came up in 19th century is the best prototype of modern public transport system protecting past heritage.
India house as many as 200 colonial civilities entities most of them located in Rajasthan, explores un-parallel medical past another is Varansi reflects rich religious and culture heritage inheritance.
However, she added that most of hill stations and cantonments founded by Britishers were here for lodging their infantries during its invasions.
Expressing concern over pace with which public place are squeezing especially the pavement, Ms. Gupta said that modern arts and public facilities have enough to learn from the colonial past as cases of deaths are increasing with widening and congested roads and heavy traffic in the metropolis.
She informed that growing of grass in the lawns, parks and pubic places is pure British notions despite it is difficult today to manage as it swallow lot of water for its growing in any civic station.