View from India: India gets new Parliament House
Image credit: Government of India
Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the New Parliament House on 28 May. Loaded with high-tech features, the Parliament House is a smart one.
PM Modi laid the foundation stone of the Parliament House in December 2020 and inaugurated it on 28 May 2023. The new Parliament House is part of the redevelopment of the Central Vista. The nation's power corridor, the Central Vista of New Delhi includes Rashtrapati Bhavan, Parliament House, North and South Block, and India Gate, among others.
The building, designed by Ahmedabad-based HCP Design Planning and Management under architect Bimal Patel, has been built by Tata Projects Ltd and construction began in January 2021. The triangular-shaped, four-storey building has a built-up area of 64,500 square metres and the total cost of the construction is ₹862 crore (8.62bn rupees, or approximately £84m).
The Parliament House benchmarks itself with smart features. The Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeitY) has developed the Digital Sansad Project, a platform to bring citizens, Members of Parliament (MPs) and all other stakeholders together. A first-of-its-kind digital platform, the Digital Sansad Project will leverage artificial intelligence (AI) tools for a speech-to-text conversion engine for the real-time transcription of proceedings in Parliament – proceedings will be transcribed in 22 scheduled regional languages. Digital Sansad is positioned as a 'One Nation, One Application' platform. Hence, MPs can access Parliament resources through the portal’s ‘Knowledge Management System’, while the secretariat can disseminate information online. There’s also the Digital Sansad App, through which citizens can watch parliamentary proceedings. Under MeitY, the National Informatics Centre will develop three versions of the app within three years. With this, the entire spectrum of the functioning of the Indian Parliament will be covered.
Other state-of-art technology features enrich the building. Biometrics will be incorporated for ease of voting. As per media reports, the interiors of the halls are equipped with an intuitive and graphical interface, programmable microphones and virtual sound simulations to set the right levels of reverberation and limit echoes. Tablet computers will be provided for lawmakers while device agnostic systems will be introduced. The media has learnt that the building has an inbuilt process for efficiency in energy and water consumption, while native vegetation has been used to minimise irrigation needs and the thrust is on drip irrigation. The entire building has been designed to be energy efficient and has a Green Building Certification of GRIHA 5 Star. Indoor air quality is being addressed through a three-stage filtration process along with UV lamp to ensure clean and fresh indoor air.
Aadheenams, or pontiffs, from Tamil Nadu’s Dharmapuram and Thiruvavaduthurai flew in for the inauguration and blessed the PM. Aadheenam is a Shaivism (a form of worship within Hinduism) monastery in South India. PM Modi lit the lamp and offered flowers to the sacred Sengol. The Sengol, with Nandi at the top facing the east-west direction, has been installed in the new Parliament House. Sengol gets its name from the Tamil word 'semmai', meaning righteousness. The sceptre is a historical symbol of independence given by the British to Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister. It represented the transfer of power from the British to the Indians.
Ahead of the inauguration, many citizens have tweeted their sentiments. Modi has retweeted a video via his Twitter handle. “Several people are expressing their joy on #MyParliamentMyPride. Through very emotional voice-overs they are conveying a spirit of pride that our nation is getting a new Parliament, which will keep working to fulfil people’s aspirations with more vigour. May this Temple of Democracy continue strengthening India’s development trajectory and empowering millions. #MyParliamentMyPride.”
The new Parliament House is adjacent to the present circular Parliament House, which is a colonial-era building. It was designed by British architects Sir Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker and inaugurated by the then Viceroy Lord Irwin in 1927 and will be converted into a museum. Being close to a century old, the building has brought its fair share of challenges. The PM reflected on the difficulties faced by the Parliamentarians in getting work done in the old Parliament building. A lack of technical facilities and paucity of seats in the House led to the conception of the new Parliament House, which has leveraged technology for smooth operations.
The building is designed to accommodate 888 members in the Lok Sabha chamber and 384 in Rajya Sabha. Should there be a joint sitting of both Houses, a total of 1,272 members can be accommodated in the Lok Sabha chamber. Lok Sabha is constitutionally the House of the People. This is the lower house of India's bicameral Parliament; with the upper house being the Rajya Sabha. “As the new building of India's Parliament is inaugurated, our hearts and minds are filled with pride, hope and promise. May this iconic building be a cradle of empowerment, igniting dreams and nurturing them into reality. May it propel our great nation to new heights of progress,” the Prime Minister tweeted.
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