Unveiling the Future of Democracy: Inauguration of India’s New Parliament House

Journey through time: Tracing the historical evolution of India's Parliamentary structures.

0 1,081

28 May 2023 marks a momentous occasion in India’s parliamentary democracy as the nation prepares to inaugurate its newly constructed Parliament House. A modern architectural marvel, the edifice stands as a symbol of India’s vibrant democracy and its aspirations for the future. The inauguration ceremony is poised to become a cornerstone in the annals of Indian history, a testimony to the nation’s progress and commitment to democratic ideals. Distinguished leaders, including the Lok Sabha Speaker, Prime Minister, Ministers, and Members of Parliament, will grace the event, celebrating this new chapter in India’s legislative journey. This pivotal moment encapsulates the spirit of collective decision-making and democratic dialogue, the cornerstones upon which India has built its robust system of governance. As India embarks on this new journey, the new Parliament House is set to embody the spirit of a nation that is simultaneously deeply rooted in its historical legacy while striding confidently towards its future.

The inauguration of the new Parliament House on 28 May 2023, it’s an opportune moment to delve into the historical legacy of the Parliament buildings that have served India for over a century. While the information on the new building is readily accessible, this article attempts to journey back in time, recounting the rich past of the existing Parliament House and its associated structures within the Parliament estate.

Enshrined in Article 79 of the Indian Constitution is the structure of Parliament, comprising the President of India, the Council of States (Rajya Sabha), and the House of People (Lok Sabha). The President’s role is integral to this framework, placing them at the heart of the parliamentary system.

Soon to be rechristened as the “Old Parliament House,” the original structure has a storied past. The first stone of this historic building was laid by H.R.H., the Duke of Connaught, on 12 February 1921. The construction spanned six years, culminating in a grand opening ceremony on 18 January 1927, presided over by Lord Irwin, the Governor-General of India at the time. The construction costs totalled Rs. 83 lakhs, a considerable sum in that era.

With the growth of the Parliament Secretariat, an extension became necessary. The Parliament House Annexe, housing several Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha Secretariats wings, was conceived to accommodate this expansion. Shri V.V. Giri laid the foundation stone, then President of India, on 3 August 1970, and Prime Minister Indira Gandhi inaugurated the building on 24 October 1975.

The Parliament Library Building (PLB) has been instrumental in shaping the intellectual legacy of the Parliament. Established in 1921, the library is one of India’s most comprehensive literature collections. Initially, it operated out of Baker’s Parliament House. However, by May 2002, the growing volume of literature and demands an enhanced research and reference facility necessitated a separate establishment.

This gave birth to the new Parliament Library Building (Sansadiya Gyanpeeth), envisioned to provide comprehensive support to the Members of Parliament. Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi laid the foundation stone on 15 August 1987, and the building was completed over seven years and nine months at a cost of Rs. 200 crore. Covering a total area of 60,460 sq.m., the building was inaugurated by President K.R. Narayanan on 7 May 2002.

As parliamentary activities proliferated, further expansion was required, leading to the conception of the Extension to the Parliament House Annexe Building. The foundation stone for this extension was laid on 5 May 2009 by Vice-President Mohammad Hamid Ansari and Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee. The Prime Minister inaugurated the completed extension on 31 July 2017.

The Parliament House stands unique and significant in the grand scheme of things. The building is positioned higher than other structures within the Parliament Estate, symbolizing its importance. As the core of the nation’s political architecture, it houses both parliamentary bodies, reflecting the spirit of democratic governance that forms the cornerstone of the Indian polity.

(Sources: Booklets on ‘Parliament House: From Past to Future and ‘ Parliament House Estate, published by the Lok Sabha Secretariat)