The word Capital comes from Latin word “Caput” referring to head. So a capital city is the head city of the area, the seat of its Government. In Medieval times the place where the king set up his court, became the capital of his empire. That area gradually developed by attracting the politically motivated and the rich. Moscow and London are examples of such Capitals.
During the formative years of US, in 1800’s, as new States were formed, their Capitals were decided by the President, after consultations with local leaders. In case of disputes, either a new Capital City was founded midway between disputing cities as in the case of Madison, the capital of Wisconsin State, founded midway between Milwaukee and western centers of population or a referendum was held as in case of Montana State, in 1875 to ratify the choice of Helena as capital.
Another similar dispute erupted when Australia was formed in 1901, between Sydney and Melbourne. The final solution was to take a map of Australia, join the two cities with a straight line and put a dot in the middle. That is how the capital Canberra was born. Similar “neutral” capitals were created in Switzerland (Berne), Spain (Madrid) and US (Washington DC). All of them were created from scratch, far from existing developed centers and today are well developed cities.
The Capital of Pakistan at the time of Independence was Karachi. After seizing power in 1958, Gen Ayub Khan wanted the capital to be next to his village Rehana, so he founded a new city, Islamabad. Today Islamabad is one of the most well developed capitals in the world.
So, the argument that cities with developed infrastructure should be considered for being the permanent capital of Uttarakhand does not bear merit. Infact, newly developed cities will be better planned and grow by attracting talent and entrepreneurs, with amenities developing alongside. Because of overcrowding and excessive growth, Brazil in 1960 shifted its capital from Rio de Janeiro to a new city, Brasilia.
Another argument is that selection of a capital is a highly scientific exercise with detailed feasibility studies and project reports and that popular sentiment is irrelevant. On the contrary, most of the Capitals selected around the world were emotional choices. An uninhabited and ruined Athens was made capital of newly independent Greece on popular sentiment of restoring Greece to its original glory. Upon reunification the underdeveloped city of Berlin was made Germany’s capital instead of the existing, well developed West German capital Bonn. After the October Revolution the Russian Capital was shifted from the developed St Petersburg to the ruined city of Moscow. Nobody spent years studying rock strata and soil composition to select them. Newly formed states in Canada selected their capitals by referendum.
Another concept is that of a Capital Region. Instead of the Legislature and Civil Services being in same city, they can be in separate Legislative and Administrative Capitals. This prevents excessive pressure on natural resources of one region and ensures uniform development of different regions. In South Africa, Pretoria is the Administrative and Cape Town the Legislative Capital. Similarly Kuala Lumpur is Malaysia’s Legislative Capital while Putrajaya, 57kms away, is the Administrative Capital. Manila is Philippine’s Administrative capital, while the Upper and Lower Legislatures are in Pasay City and Quezon City respectively.
To summarize, the Capital of Uttarakhand:
Procrastination is not good administration.
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