I am the canopy opposite India Gate - a mute spectator of the independent IndiaI am the nondescript 'canopy' or the 22.25 meters high 'cupola' existing at a distance of about 150 meters from the India Gate war memorial, on the east side at a junction of six roads on Rajpath in Delhi. None other than Edwin Lutyens had designed me, in red sandstone, inspired by a 6th century Mahabalipuram Pavilion in South India.
I stand alone though proud and have witnessed all the Republic Day parades, the celebration of independent India. I listen to the awe-inspiring rhythm of the marching boots of the brave soldiers of India, their pride swollen chests and the roars of flying past of the jets billowing fumes forming patterns of our national pride, the tricolor.
I witness the ceremony of giving away Ashok Chakra and Kirti Chakra awards by the President of India, mostly received by the widows of martyrs, who gave supreme sacrifice for the nation. It is not easy to witness the emotions on the face of the award recipients.
The Prime Ministers of India visit the Amar Jawan Jyoti to lay a floral wreath and observe two minutes silence in the memory of unknown soldiers. I have seen all the Prime Ministers of India beginning from Jawaharlal Nehru to Narendra Modi. They never visit me as I am empty and considered an epitome of the erstwhile British rule.
Visitors from all over the world and VVIPs who visit the India Gate to pay homage to the 82,000 soldiers of the undivided Indian Army who died in the period 1914–21 in the First World War, often look at me also.
I was originally designed to host King George V of England. Once a 15.2-meter high marble statue of the King, in his coronation robes and Imperial State Crown, sculpted by Charles Sargeant Jagger occupied me. However, in the year 1960, the statue of the King was shifted to the Coronation Park to join the statues of Lord Hardinge, Viceroy of India during the period 911–1916 and Lord Willingdon, 22nd Viceroy of India besides other British Raj era statues.
It was suggested that a statue of Mahatma Gandhi will be installed inside me, but I am still awaiting to host the father of the nation. No Government, be it the Indian National Congress Government or the Bhartiya Janata Party Government led by Atal Bihari Bajpai or Narendra Modi could take a final decision so far. The matter had been discussed in the Parliament of India also and in the year 1981, it was confirmed in the Parliament that the installation of Mahatma Gandhi statue in the canopy is under consideration, but so far nothing concrete has emerged. There have been many issues including bureaucratic delays, political differences, disputes over the design of the statute and financing.
Many people say that my beauty lies in remaining empty only as it reminds of the greatest Brixit i.e. the exit of Britishers from India.
I find solace in the company of the pigeons, the symbols of peace and love. They are at least alive in contrast to the dead sentiments of the bureaucrats and politicians of independent India. Even, people of India don't care about me. I am being punished for having the history of hosting the King of the empire on which the sun never used to set.
I am a mute spectator of the Independent India like the mute voters of the independent India.