India capital Delhi in low-key centenary celebrations

Connaught Place Delhi
Image caption Delhi attracts more migrants than any other city in India

The city of Delhi is holding low-key celebrations to mark 100 years as India's capital.

It was on 12 December 1911 when George V, then Emperor of India, announced that the capital would be moved from Calcutta to Delhi.

No official ceremonies are planned amid controversy over the legitimacy of commemorating a colonial landmark.

However, a year-long series of events, including festivals and exhibitions, is expected to begin in January.

On Monday, Delhi opened an exhibition containing photographs and lithographs of the city to mark the occasion.

A book on Delhi, called Red Fort to Raisina, is being released - one of a number on the city that have been published for the occasion. A food festival is also underway.

However, the centenary has been largely ignored by Indians, and the majority of the capital's main newspapers did not carry the news on their front pages on Monday.


Many Delhi residents have questioned the celebrations, saying the authorities are not doing enough to improve amenities.

"Having seen the city change over the years and lose its values, I find the idea of [such] celebration elitist and not connected to the needs of the people," senior architect and town planner Kuldip Singh told The Hindu newspaper.

"The heritage of the city has been compromised, 250,000 women still defecate in the open before sunrise because the city has failed to provide toilets," Mr Singh said.

Image caption More than 20 million people live in Delhi and its suburbs

The move from Calcutta - which was the capital of British India for 150 years - in the east to Delhi in 1911 was prompted by the realisation that the capital needed to be centrally located.

There was also a rising tide of opposition to British rule in Calcutta.

But Calcutta businessman Ramjit Ray told the BBC that his city's location was actually now the more open and international of the two.

He said: "Calcutta is at the epicentre of a number of countries, including China and south-east Asia. Delhi is more insulated from the rest of the world."

Over the past 100 years, Delhi has grown into India's largest metropolis. Its population has risen from 233,000 in 1911 to more than 20 million today, including the suburbs of Gurgaon and Noida.

Delhi is India's political capital, and home to its parliament and the presidential palace.

The city is also a bustling business centre in one of the fastest growing economies in the world - a recent report said that Delhi attracts more migrants than any other city in India because of employment opportunities and superior infrastructure.

With a per capita income of 66,728 rupees ($1,353), the third highest in India after Chandigarh and Goa, Delhi is also one of most prosperous cities.

The capital is a thriving cultural centre, with more than 1,000 heritage buildings and monuments, dance and drama institutes and several art galleries and bookshops.

More cars are sold in Delhi every month than the cities of Mumbai, Chennai (Madras) and Calcutta, leading to increasing traffic gridlocks.

But the building of India's most modern and extensive metro railway network has made commuting easier for Delhi's citizens.

More on this story