The President of India is the head of state of the Republic of India. The President is the nominal head of the executive, the first citizen of the country, as well as the commander-in-chief of the Indian Armed Forces. Smt. Draupadi Murmu is the 15th and current President, having taken office from 25 July 2022.
The President of India is the Head of the State and exercises powers as defined in the Constitution of India. The President’s Secretariat provides secretarial assistance to the President in discharging constitutional, ceremonial and other State responsibilities.
The President’s Secretariat is headed by the Secretary to the President who is assisted by a team of officers as per details available on President’s Secretariat website. The President’s Secretariat includes Secretariat, Household and Garden workcharged establishments. These wings perform tasks relating to constitutional, administrative, hospitality of State guests, petitions on wide ranging subjects from general public and maintenance of Rashtrapati Bhavan, President’s Estate and Gardens.
All matters requiring attention of the President in matters relating to executive power and powers under statutes or relating to appointments of constitutional authorities are received in the President’s Secretariat from the nodal Ministries concerned and submitted to the President through the Secretary to the President. Once the President has approved to the proposed course of action, the files are sent back to the concerned Ministries.
The Delhi Durbar of 1911, held on December 12, marked the coronation of King George V. The most important announcement made in the Durbar which was witnessed by around one lakh people, was shifting of British India’s capital from Calcutta to Delhi. Whilst Calcutta was seen to be the centre of commerce, Delhi, on the other hand symbolized power and glory. Subsequent to the announcement, the search for an imperial residence became imperative. The Kingsway Camp, in northern side of the proposed town, was the initial choice Edwin Lutyens, a British architect, was selected to plan India’s new Capital and was part of the Delhi Town Planning Committee on which the decision for the site and layout rested. Lutyens and his colleagues, who were experts in sanitation found the northern location to be highly vulnerable to floods, given its proximity to the Yamuna River. Thus, Raisina Hill, on the southern side, which provided spacious high ground and better drainage, seemed an appropriate option for the Viceroy’s House.
As Former President of India, R. Venkataraman has rightly remarked, “A palace on this hillock would crown the landscape. Visible across miles, the palace would levitate on the horizon as a monument that is a cut above the rest. It would be, among buildings, a Kanchenjungha which the dust haze of Delhi’s summers and the mist of her winters would obscure, unveil and obscure again. A tantalizing presence that would be close and far, within touching distance and yet elusive behind the undulation.”
The rocky hills of the chosen location were blasted and land leveled to accommodate the Viceroy’s residence as well as office buildings. The rock base of the site provided an additional advantage for firm foundations. A railway line was specially laid around the building for movement of construction materials. Since the city plan had been made away from the river, and no stream flowed in the south, subsoil water had to be pumped to the surface for all water requirements.
Much of the land of that region belonged to the then Maharaja of Jaipur. The 145 feet tall Jaipur Column which stands on the Rashtrapati Bhavan Forecourt was gifted by Maharaja of Jaipur, Siwai Madho Singh to commemorate the creation of Delhi as the new capital.
It took more than seventeen years to build the Presidential Palace. Lord Hardinge, the Governor-General and Viceroy in whose reign the construction was initiated, wanted the building to be completed within four years.However, even by early 1928, the finishing of the building looked scarcely possible. The main outer dome had not begun until then. This delay was primarily owing to the First World War.
The last stone was laid by, Viceroy and Governor-General of India Irwin . He was the first occupant of the newly constructed Viceroy’s House on April 6, 1929. The main building was built by Haroun-al-Rashid, while the Forecourt was done by Sujan Singh and his son Sobha Singh. It is estimated that seven hundred million bricks and three million cubic feet of stone had gone into building this palatial structure with around twenty three thousand labourers working. The estimated cost of building the Viceroy’s House was Rs. 14 million.
Lutyens was extremely particular about the architecture and design of his building and preferred European classical style. The H shaped building shows the elaborate geographical permutations in an elegant style.
Nevertheless, several essential features from the Indian architecture were incorporated into his architectural design. The dome of Rashtrapati Bhavan came to be designed in a distinctly Indian style. It was modeled on the Sanchi stupa built by Emperor Ashoka. The dome is emblematic and is visible from a distance more than the height of the rest of the building as crown over the room where some of the national most sacred ceremonies are held.
Inside Rashtrapati Bhavan has 12 massive pillars with elegantly carved bells. The bells found in Hindu, Jain & Buddhist tradition temples inspired this design. These bells were inspired by the Moodabidri Jain temple in Karnataka. Other architectural elements like chhajjas, chhatris and jaalis, and motifs like elephants, cobra, temple bells etc. all have an Indian connect. His collaborator for the project was Herbert Baker, who constructed the North Block and the South Block. Together, Lutyens and Baker had sketched many designs for Delhi, many of which have been preserved and displayed in the Rashtrapati Bhavan Museum.