Chandigarh to get its own India International Centre

capitol complex chandigarh [File] The Capitol Complex, Chandigarh | AFP

The India International Centre (IIC), in the capital city of New Delhi, has always been a members' pride and others' envy. Many other big cities and aspirational cities in the country, have always wanted one—an India International Centre, of its own.

And now, independent India's first planned city, Chandigarh, is all set to get one of its own—Chandigarh India International Centre. An announcement on this came from the Administrator of the Union Territory of Chandigarh, V.P. Singh Badnore, who is also the Governor of Punjab. Both governments of Punjab and Haryana, the two states that share Chandigarh as their joint capital, have endorsed their participation in what may be the realisation of Le Corbusier's dream. The architect of Chandigarh had envisaged a “Museum of Knowledge” at the Capitol Complex. It is among the few elements of Corbusier's Master Plan that remain unimplemented so far. But if it is a matter of any consolation, the objectives of the Chandigarh India International Centre will be very akin to what the French architect had aspired for the city.

The task of drafting a concept note was given to Pramod Kumar, director of the Chandigarh-based think tank, Institute for Development and Communication. He has long pleaded for such a facility in Chandigarh. “It will be a centre on the Delhi pattern. Chandigarh is emerging as a satelite of the national capital, and has the potential and need for something like the India International Centre,” Kumar elaborated.

The hunt for land is apparently on. Sources say it may be at the northern end of the city, in the backdrop of the Shivalik hills and almost as a part of the Capitol Complex area, where the 8-storeyed Civil Secretariat, shared by Punjab and Haryana, is located.

The Chandigarh India International Centre will be a non-governmental and non-commercial institution, with a space for open-minded debates, discussions, seminar, ideation and research that come under a broad umbrella of public service activities. Like in Delhi, it will be the hub where statesmen, policy makers, intellectuals, bureaucrats, writers, artists and the like will connect and exchange ideas. The concept also includes a world-class technology driven library.

The Chandigarh administration, over which Badnore presides now, has long felt that corporate tourism as well as MICE tourism are not picking up because of some missing factors. The Chandigarh IIC is expected to fill that vacuum.

In Bengaluru, there is the Bangalore International Centre, a TERI initiative, that was inaugurated by the then president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam in 2005. And before that Goa got International Centre Goa (ICG), inaugurated by another president of India, Dr Shankar Dayal Sharma, in 1996.

Possibly to avoid comparisons, or even legal issues, these two cities, and now Chandigarh, have decided not to hijack the name of the famous inspiration. But they are not shy to say that they are “modelled on the lines of Delhi's India International Centre.”