National Geographic : 1942 Oct
New Delhi Goes Full Time BY MAYNARD OWEN WILLIAMS With Illustrations from Photographsby the Author NEW DELHI, unofficial capital of the United Nations in Asia, has just fin ished its first full summer of toil, sweat, and prickly heat. Now it welcomes cool October. Japanese victories, the Cripps offer of eventual independence, and American par ticipation in a global war in which India is a land base against both Germany and Japan have put the winter capital on full time. This is usually the season when the Gov ernment reluctantly moves down to the plains from its summer capital in the Himalayas. Bullock carts, piled high with Government records, pull up to the impressive Secretariat. Messengers hide their brown skins under scarlet and gold. The European shopping center, snail-like during months of estivation, stirs with new life. Furniture for newly opened homes weaves through the street traffic on the heads of porters. The native bazaar begins to sleep at night instead of by day. In this moving-day atmosphere I returned to Delhi after 21 years, this time to get a visa for Afghanistan, from which so many of Delhi's rulers came. Going to the bright new villa of the Afghan Consul General, I passed through miles of monuments erected by Afghans, Turkis, or other invaders from beyond Khyber Pass. Mine had been a routine flight from Wash ington, D. C., to Calcutta by way of Pearl Harbor, Midway, Manila, Hong Kong, Chung king, and Rangoon-romantic names then, fighting names as I returned to the United States. New Delhi Is the Eighth Delhi Home again in Washington, I found the New Delhi date line on the front page. "Why New Delhi?" asked a friend. "Because Lord Halifax, then Viceroy of India, didn't move into the present capital until Christmas, 1929, whereas the sovereign site of all eight Delhis is as old as the hills." Kipling's "hills" were the Himalayas. Del hi's Ridge was there millions of years before Mount Everest wrinkled the face of Mother Earth. But we needn't go back farther than two pillars, dating from about 243 B. C. Im ported relics of the kindly age of Asoka, they are twice as old as Old Delhi itself. As far as native monuments go, our farthest back is A. D. 1193, when Moslems were fighting Christians in Galilee and Hindus in Hindustan. This is the famous Kutb Minar (Plate VIII and pages 474, 475). Everything has happened to Delhi. Now inhabitants of the oft-resurrected capital won der "What next?" To India's aspiring millions, neither Gandhi's spinning wheel nor the Japanese loudspeaker promises enough. A few ascetics may still hope to turn back the clock, and leaders who have long fought for independence think chances are exception ally good now; but 50,000 Indians a month are volunteering to fight for the United Nations. Two hundred thousand of them have already seen action, and thousands of their fellow farmers are turning from plowshares and prun ing hooks to making guns and munitions. Only yesterday, liberty was something to ward which India, under British tutelage, was slowly evolving. The Indian National Con gress was founded in 1885 by Allan Octavian Hume, an Englishman. Now that liberty must be fought for, New Delhi's air-conditioned hotel is the center for American participation in Asia's struggle. General Mitchell's Prophecy Realized American flyers are carrying out the dreams expressed by Brig. Gen. William L. Mitchell in the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC eighteen years ago.* The American champion of air power wrote: "How easily I could equip one of our air planes to fly to Mount Everest (and) photo graph the whole peak! "Lhasa, across the Himalayas, is only about as far from Darjeeling as Washington, D. C., is from New York, and I thought of how, with any one of our supercharged planes, we could cross the mountains, land, and call on the Dalai Lama within a couple of hours." The aerial conquest of Everest is a matter of record,t and big planes, flying between Calcutta and Chungking, China, are turning "Billy" Mitchell's air castles into solid strat egy, affecting Asia's more than a billion men. India's war-boomed capital, like Washing ton, D. C., is a city of magnificent distances. * See "Tiger-Hunting in India," by Brig. Gen. Wil liam Mitchell, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, No vember, 1924. t "Aerial Conquest of Everest," by Lieut. Col. L. V . S . Blacker, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, August, 1933.