Why is New Delhi the capital of India is a question often asked by many people, especially foreigners who do not understand the importance of the centrally located metropolis. New Delhi is the capital of India, a very large country in Southeast Asia. Many refer to it as Indian subcontinent because of the size, dominance, and the cultural influence India enjoys over the other regions in the continent. This article attempts to find out the answer to this question, why is New Delhi the capital of India.
Delhi had served as the capital of the Sultanate for a long time
Long before the British decided to shift their capital from Calcutta to Delhi, the city of Delhi served as the capital of the Mughal Empire for centuries. In fact, the Mughal Emperors ruled a large geographical territory from here from 1649 to 1857. However, when the British came as the East India Company, they found that this ancient city was not a perfect setup to become a seat of administration. It was natural for East India Company to make Calcutta their hub as they entered the country from this eastern extremity and erected their structures, developing the place from a small fishing village into a large and throbbing city.
Bengal had become a centre of movement for Self Rule
It was only at the beginning of the 20 th century that the British started to think of shifting their capital from Calcutta to Delhi. Viceroy Harding, in a letter to the Secretary of State, the Earl of Crewe, wrote that it was an anomaly to govern such a large country from its eastern extremity. He wrote that it was better to move to Delhi that was centrally located. Nevertheless, the real reason behind the rush to shift capital to Delhi from Calcutta was the rising opposition to the British rule that raised its head in Calcutta. The movement to get self-rule for India had become violent by this time and the British government was facing the heat of this movement that was most vociferous in Calcutta. To weaken this movement for self-rule, British government divided Calcutta into two parts, East Bengal and West Bengal, in the year 1905.
Delhi was chosen to assuage the sentiments of the nationalists
To assuage the feelings of the nationalists, the British government decided to shift its capital from Calcutta to Delhi in the year 1911. Interestingly, Lord Curzon, who was the Viceroy at the time of division of Bengal, was critical of the move to shift British capital to Delhi. Two British architects were put to work to create an area that was suited to the British taste and liking. New Delhi thus came into existence with architecture and planning done by Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker. It was on 13 February 1931 that Lord Irwin, the then Viceroy of India declared New Delhi as the capital of India. The city has been serving as the capital of the country since then.
Despite the fact that British government reluctantly moved away from Calcutta, there can be no denying the fact that Delhi is an ideal capital for India. It not only is centrally located but also has the size and the population in addition to the infrastructure to allow for better administration of the country.Image Courtesy: “SansadBhavan dtv” (CC BY-SA 3.0)