Sad tale of Corbusier’s tapestries

I am startled to read two reports in The Tribune (July 31 and Aug 1) about the sad plight of tapestries designed by Le Corbusier. In my doctoral thesis on Chandigarh (1991), I examined how Le Corbusier is the world’s greatest architect, since Michelangelo.

He has given us Chandigarh, a harbinger of modern urbanism, which is the mother city for such contemporary national capitals as Brasilia, Islamabad, Dacca, et al. Three of modern architecture’s most hallowed shrines are in Chandigarh: the Assembly, the High Court, and the Secretariat. Corbusier has not only created masterpieces, with no historical precedence, but also rediscovered for us the sacrosanctity of holistic building design in which architecture, art, and landscape are like the sur, laya and taal of our incomparable classical music, reminiscent of marvels like the Ajanta and the Ellora. He has indeed created a modern tradition in the form of a living heritage for which our pride finds expression in the catchy epithet “the City Beautiful”.



The report that one of his tapestries has been sold as naddi speaks volumes for the modern India psyche that wallows in a heady concoction of ignorance and inertia. The other one is on its way to a form of extermination, which is not yet reckoned to be a cognisable offense; it is at the mercy of the judiciary which upholds the law!

Should the temptation for its disposal as “junk” arise again, I suggest it be sold in an international auction. I bet it will fetch a billion rupees, a sum large enough to complete the Museum of Knowledge and other projects, to enhance the City Beautiful’s beauty a thousand-fold.

Meanwhile, the Central Government should set up an autonomous, high-powered Chandigarh Heritage Conservation Council comprising architects, artists, engineers, planners, and art historians to advise the Chandigarh Administration on how and what to preserve in this experiment. Prospective users of this matchless heritage should be medically examined for allergies to save it from the art-cannibalist tendencies of the high and the mighty.

Dr S.S. BHATTI, Former Principal, College of Architecture, Chandigarh


Chandigarh’s Government College of Art building was designed by Le Corbusier and has a unique character. With its honey-combed external facade and the subtle colour scheme surrounded by the greenery, it has a soothing and aesthetic effect. According to an edict of the architect, Chandigarh city cannot have large sculptures of art objects anywhere and everywhere. The permission of Chandigarh’s City Planner or the Chief Architect was also not sought for this installation. This is a gross violation of the Master Plan, that too, by an individual and with the support of the college authorities.

Nowadays without giving a thought to its preservation, the powers that be are trying to violate the spirit of the city architecture. A recent example is the destruction of the tapestries of the High Court building and the next in the series is the installation of this mural in colours that are not in harmony with the architecture.

Does the once-proud-city of Chandigarh now need to beautify its heritage buildings with the remnants and leftovers of some odd projects?

JAYANTI DUTTA, Deputy Director, Academic Staff College, Panjab University, Chandigarh.

New era of Indo-Pak ties

For the first time since Partition, Indo-Pak relations have entered a new era following the initiative taken by the leaders of both nations. Ironically, though poverty stalks both countries, a major portion of their budget is spent on defence.

Needless to say, the past three Indo-Pak wars achieved little. If they come together and settled all the issues amicably, the huge funds being spent on defence can be diverted towards poverty eradication and development in the fields of education, science and other crucial sectors.

This, in fact, will help Pakistan most as its literacy rate is very low.

India is like the elder brother of Pakistan. If it continues its spirit of brotherhood, Indo-Pak relations will improve in the years to come.

HARI CHAND SHANKER, Advocate, Ambala Cantt.

Policy on paper

Apropos of the editorial “Policy on education” (Aug 5), it is disheartening that in this country every new system or scheme gets embroiled in voluminous paperwork with no concrete results on the ground. So is the Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) launched amid much fanfare in the country.

The paperwork of the teachers who have been assigned to deal with the work of SSA, has increased manifold. They are left with little time to concentrate on their main assignment — teaching. I endorse the editorial view that there is no significant achievement on the ground.

It is for the first time in the Union Budget that an education cess of 2 per cent will be levied on all taxes. Rs 5,000 crore, thus raised, should be spent over construction work in a phased manner, whenever there is shortage of buildings in schools and colleges.

The construction work should be entrusted to the Central Public Works Department and executed in a manner that the students’ studies are not affected.

The work should also be completed within a specific time frame to check cost overruns.

IQBAL SINGH, Bijhari (Hamirpur)

Welcome ruling

Apropos of the report (Aug 10), the Supreme Court verdict on 76 per cent reservation of seats for the Christians in the admission to the Christian Medical College’s MBBS and BDS courses is timely and long overdue.

The judgement will go a long way in helping poor Christian boys and girls to fulfill their aspirations and services to society.

WILSON FRANKLIN, Secretary, Circle Church (CNI), Jalandhar Cantt

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