How New Delhi Was Founded
Anand Vivek Taneja
-- by Mushirul Hasan Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2014, 296 pp., 1395
August 2014, volume 38, No 8

From Ghalib’s Delhi to Lutyen’s New Delhi is an edited set of records, from the collections of the National Archives of India, pertaining to the founding and development of New Delhi from 1911 onwards. It is a valuable addition to the growing literature emerging around the 100th anniversary of New Delhi. In many ways, the story of the founding of New Delhi is a very well known one. Where this collection’s contribution lies is in giving that skeletal story texture, detail, and political complexity. As the very first document in the collection—Lord Crewe’s letter to Lord Hardinge, Governor-General of India—proves, the founding of Imperial New Delhi was inextricably linked to the rise of Indian nationalism and popular agitation in Bengal. The Government wished to reverse the disastrous partition of Bengal of 1905, but at the same time give ‘no appearance of surrender to the agitation’ (p. xxxii). And so, at the Coronation Durbar at Delhi in 1911, King George V announced first the transfer of the capital to Delhi, followed by the announcement of the redistribution of the political boundaries of Bengal (p. 7).

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