Building National Identity in Postcolonial India

Book - 2004
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The culmination of Ravi Kalia's trilogy on the formation of capital cities in postcolonial India, Gandhinagar joins the historian's other two volumes, on Chandigarh and Bhubaneswar, in tracing India's efforts to establish its twentieth-century architectural identity. In following the development of these cities, Kalia recounts India's progression through precolonial, British, modern, and postmodern theory and practice, particularly the architectural ideology propagated by Western a rchitects Le Corbusier and Louis Kahn. Kalia explains that Gandhinagar, the capital of Gujarat in western India, became a battleground for the competing ideals that had surfaced during the building of Chandigarh and Bhubaneswar. The mill owners of the neighboring city of Ahmedabad, backed by Indian architect and planner Balkrishna Doshi, wanted the American Louis Kahn to build Gandhinagar as a worthy rival to Le Corbusier's Chandigarh. There was, however, tremendous political pressure to make Gandhinagar a purely Indian enterprise, partly because the state of Gujarat was the birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi. Doshi and then by American-trained H. K. Mewada, who had apprenticed with Le Corbusier in Chandigarh Kalia shows that, unlike the other two cities, Gandhinagar would become emblematic of Gandhian ideals of swadeshi (indigenous) goods and swaraj (self-rule). Exploring the impact of modernist architecture on India as a whole, Kalia suggests that the style gained acceptance because its parsimonious designs and unadorned spaces never represented a threat to a religiously pluralist country anxious to create a secular identity. He explains how two competing versions of Indian history and ideology - Ganhdi's and Jawaharlal Nehru's - employed modemism's ideals for their own separate ends. Serving two masters, as Kalia illustrates, created constrictions and tensions evident in the building of Gandhinagar and in the careers of many Indian architects, including Doshi, Charles Correa, and Achyut Kanvinde.
Publisher: Columbia, SC : University of South Carolina Press, c2004
ISBN: 9781570035449
Branch Call Number: HT169.I52 G265 2004
Characteristics: xiv, 165 p. : ill. ; 24 cm

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