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State-of-the-art Secretariat draws on Tamil Nadu's democratic traditions

March 11, 2010 11:15 pm | Updated November 17, 2021 05:54 am IST - CHENNAI:

ARCHITECTURE OF DEMOCRACY: Tamil Nadu's grand new Secretariat complex is built on the concept of representative democracy, symbolised by four circles of diminishing size. Chief Minister Karunanidhi explains this in terms of the Uthiramerur inscription during the period of Paranataka Chola (907-955 AD). Photo: M. Vedhan

ARCHITECTURE OF DEMOCRACY: Tamil Nadu's grand new Secretariat complex is built on the concept of representative democracy, symbolised by four circles of diminishing size. Chief Minister Karunanidhi explains this in terms of the Uthiramerur inscription during the period of Paranataka Chola (907-955 AD). Photo: M. Vedhan

In the State which provided one of the earliest examples of a representative, grassroots democracy, the grand new Assembly complex has four circular buildings of diminishing size. This signifies the people and three pillars of representative democracy — the legislature, the judiciary, and the executive.

In his public invitation to the inaugural event of the Assembly slated for Saturday, Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, who has conceived the entire Assembly complex project, referred to the Uthiramerur inscription, which testifies to the existence of a highly refined electoral system and a written constitution on the mode of elections. The importance of the inscription, which historians date around 920 A.D., during the reign of Parantaka Chola (907-955 A.D.), was featured in an article in The Hindu on July 11, 2008.

Four circles

Explaining the architectural concept behind the complex, a senior government official says the biggest of the four buildings will be the Public Plaza, to which people will have free access. The Chief Minister is for turning the Plaza into yet another place of tourist importance. An open-air museum is proposed to be set up there.

The Plaza is expected to be thrown open to the public on March 19 when the State budget will be presented in the new Assembly.

The circular Assembly Hall, where elected representatives of the people debate issues and problems concerning the State, will be the next biggest structure.

The third is the circular library structure that will essentially be used by the Law Department, which can be considered as representing the judiciary.

The smallest of the four circular components will house the Chief Minister's office, which is the highest institution of the executive branch. The official points out that the Chief Minister is particular that the circular building meant for his office should be the smallest, meaning that the executive should be modest.

The official says that after obtaining passes, people can come up to the seat of the government.

Four water fountains are being set up at the entrance of the complex, representing the four circular buildings symbolically. They are designed in proportion to the size of the buildings.

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