India is a land of snake charmers and mysteries and the capital of this mysterious country is Delhi. Delhi, the political and cultural capital of several empires including the Mughals added yet another chapter to its glorious history as it marked 100 years of its re-emergence as modern India’s capital. While a section of city dwellers were proud of this achievement and the fact that it still continues to serve as the capital, others stayed away pondering over Delhi’s lack of values, rising corruption and dwindling culture.
Delhi has assumed a metropolitan character with citizens from all parts of the country inhabiting it. Years of transformation, great trade, home to an amalgamation of cultures and languages build up the amazing city that Delhi is today. This city that many of us call home is a most peculiar mix of old and new in every corner, lifestyle, cuisine, religion, and language, with no distinct delineation. Years of massive, monuments of kingdoms and empires that have come and gone stand proudly side by side its people who bend and sway with the changing times. From a population of 240,000 in 1911 it has grown to 22 million now. The burgeoning population has seen single units with sprawling lawns give way to skyscrapers and concrete jungles. Delhi has witnessed many changes in its culture and lifestyle in these 100 years. There are so many things that were not readily available to expats in terms of commodities and services earlier. All that has changed now and there are services available that will really make your head shake. The nation’s capital is perhaps the best example of the variety and diversity of the country.
Though Delhi has evolved over the years, from an imperial capital to the capital of a thriving economy, the fact that the growth of its people and its social and economic indicators are barely satisfactory cannot be overlooked. To many, Delhi has witnessed unplanned expansion and abnormal congestion. The city has lack of values, shrinking cultural places and growing corruption. All this is deteriorating the city and the life that it nurtures. The heritage of the city has been compromised and there has been directionless growth over the years. Chaos, poorly maintained roads and illegal constructions present Delhi as an unplanned city. The picture of urban sprawl’s growth as a whole remains incomplete. Granted, not everything is easy here - and it is a veritable nightmare, for example, for an expat to open a bank account here if you don't have diplomatic status or to even get a prepaid SIM card for a mobile phone - but like every city in the world, there are pluses and minuses to living here. Wine was tricky to come by, but now all the wine shops around town carry a decent selection at reasonable prices. In addition, several malls have "imported wine and liquor shops" where you can find just about anything your heart desires - at a price of course, but it is available!
Delhi has come a long way since 1911, there is no denying that. It will, however, never be able to ignore its glorious imperial past and is a daily reminder to Delhites why they should carry this heritage with honor and pride as they look ahead to a dynamic modern world. But in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, most of us forget this and remain detached from the essential reality that we too are a part of the ecosystem and will be impacted by any unnatural adverse changes. It is now time to realize this truth and be more aware and informed about our surroundings. On this 100 year ‘Capital Celebration’, give Delhi the gift it deserves: give it some of your time and it will only be an investment in your own future. Here’s a toast to a ‘forever’ Delhi!