Architecture Law Systemic issues of India

What your architect never told you…

You are most probably living in an illegal building. In case of a fire or earthquake, you may die because of bad planning or bad construction. Your city is a mess because of cancer of lawless and substandard construction. And yet, while you are thinking that this is because of corrupt politicians or greedy builders, you are wrong.

The real culprit of this whole mess is someone you don’t really know, because he suffers silently. But, today is his day: Architect’s day, so let me tell you what your architect never told you.

For you, architect is probably a strange bearded creature who dares argue with your wife about using vermillion instead of maroon and you are used to overrule his opinion because your niece’s artistic friend thinks that it won’t look good.

Tragedy is not that you don’t take the architect seriously, it is that even architect is not taking himself seriously, making him an apologetic participant of the largest industry in India that he should have been lord and master of.

Indian law recognises only four professions: law, chartered accountancy, medicine and architecture. These four professionals enjoy statutory right to a honourable title and legally recognised authority. This means that the word/advice of a lawyer, a CA or a doctor is a serious dictate and so should have been that of the architect. But, while no one dares question other three, architect has failed pathetically to grant himself a status of unquestionable authority. Architect, who the state expects to be an extension of the law, has failed miserably in playing his role as a regulating authority in real estate development in India.

This failure of architect has many reasons. Architect is part of the extremely lucrative and hugely criminalised real estate market where he is probably the weakest stake-holder and thus easy to be sidelined. In fact, the very legal authority vested upon architects under Architect Act, 1972 is unknown to most real estate players.

Architect’s professional qualification is so badly undermined that even government often fails to recognise its legal sanctity. In Gujarat, crucial public infrastructure projects are designed by unqualified individuals just because the state is either ignorant of existence of Architects act or chooses to be so for obvious reasons.

Beaten by bigger forces and finding no empowering support from the state, Indian architect finds it hard to survive without falling in the line. As architect is silenced by market forces and apathy of the state, citizens are paying a huge price.

We need to understand that professional is a person who serves the society while working for individuals. He is expected to be guardian of law and be the first line of defence. If architect was allowed to fulfil the role of a professional, he would have prevented lawless construction by advising against it or reporting it; but, as a compromised player, architect has failed the society in doing so.

Architect has not just failed in preventing illegal development, in most cases, he has aided and abetted lawless acts of builders by serving their objective of obscene wealth creation may be because he is made to feel powerless by the system.

Your architect has failed you but he is not entirely to blame. It is just a product of your ignorance about his role that has snowballed to destruction of a very important regulator of human habitat. If you want to regain your home and city from the greed of builders and apathy of government, you need to recognise the role your architect can play.

Your architect needs to find his voice. He needs to feel the empowerment that is already available to him under the law. Only if the architect will stand up and be counted, you will gain lawful and safe homes and cities.

I am happy to admit that I have managed surviving till now with minimum effort as all my intellect has be used to avoid doing anything meaningful. As I needed to while all the free time I generated in course of being lazy, science has been my favorite muse that I have enjoyed company of. As an effort to kill time (in a way, to get even with it) one fine day I decided to write a science column, more for my personal amusement than to attract readers. After getting educated about the attention span of modern readers from my editor, it became more like a challenge to tackle esoteric subjects in 600 words that I have managed to remain interested in for more than a year now. I do not want to add my worldly profile here as these are ideas that need to be considered only on the merits they carry and not as an opinion of a certain human being.

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