An Open Letter to Sudhir Vohra by Samir Shukla

Views expressed in the article are those of the author, and does not necessarily represent the views on ArchitectureLive!

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Dear Sir,

It was great to see you voice your concern about Council of Architecture through your unveiled jab through Burkha.

Ideally you should have been joined by thousands of architects of India, but you and I know extremely well that 22 shares received by it is already an astronomical number when architects are expected to stand up for their profession.

My own experience of this mysterious race is that if you talk of something deep like “juxtaposition of urbo-cultural myth in socio-politico-religious context” and architects would throng in numbers, but never even ten when you mention Architects Act. So, you stand out as an anomaly amongst architects.

I have been watching your progress over the years. If I am not mistaken, we have exchanged few mails on this subject close to our hearts. But, I always wanted to tell you this, and am sorry that I waited a bit too long, as all is almost lost now.

At the turn of the century, I was just as exasperated about strange ways of CoA. After bombarding it with email, and not getting a single reply, I had started working on figuring out why it behaves in this strange way. And my findings are slightly different than yours.

I don’t look at CoA as corrupt or inefficient body. I look at it as true representative of Indian architects.

My own journey made me go through profession of architecture and into law, as I too had felt that there must be some legal way out. When I had naivety, I saw the cause of architecture to be an open-and-shut case in a court of law, which I admit it was, only in a diametrically opposite direction than what I had initially thought.

How can a profession be so badly abused while it enjoyed a rare luxury of having an act and a council to back it up?

The answer that I subsequently found out was, it was possible when no one understands or believes in jurisprudence and, more importantly fairness.

CoA stands for abject meanness that is being hidden behind Burkha of being a professional body. Reality is, CoA and architects, even though they feign ignorance, have been playing a dirty game of usurping engineers’ work in the name of law. And, it is no surprise that verdicts after verdicts are hitting CoA and architects hard.

I am writing to you mainly because I want you to understand that, just like you, I too had a strong intention of using courts to make amends; but, even after learning law, till date, WHY I HAVE NEVER DARED APPROACH A COURT.

The answer is simple. Architects and CoA has absolutely no legs to stand on. CoA is wrong in its intent and petitions, as the exclusivity of scope (and not the title) that it, and you too Sir, are demanding is not just unsustainable, but unfair.

No court in the world can agree that you can be granted a sole professional right to do what you don’t know really well how to do, and worse, world has others with far greater educational expertise available to do it.

So, Sir, as long as CoA claimed engineering expertise, there is absolutely no meaning to approach the court.

I have been trying to explain this to CoA and architectural community since decades, but without anyone bothering to own up that we are wrong.

So, every time you approach the court, I know what is coming, and now it is reaching a point from where there will be no comeback.

If you or CoA will dare to approach the Supreme Court for corrective action in New Delhi High Court order, it’s fate is sealed. You shall join the great line of do-gooders who ended up doing more harm than good.

My dear Sir,

I understand your feelings and frustration about CoA, but you must accept that no architect would stand by you for more than ten minutes for any purpose linked with betterment of profession. If even one architect would return his/her bar to CoA as suggested by you, it would be nothing short of miracle.

Please understand that you can’t give to people what they don’t care about. Architects are not bothered, and hence the CoA or the judgement is exactly what they deserve.

But, just in case, there is still fire in your belly and you want to improve the system like Singham, I am ready to stand by you.

We can win this battle in court, but only if our hands and hearts are clean.

CoA must admit that engineering is not it scope and it belongs to engineers. CoA must define that architecture is all about human use of a built mass, and not about integration of technologies into a building.

It is only after cleaning up our house, we can ask for exclusive right to a scope that is truly of architects. And, it is the only way a court would even bother to consider it.

And, to achieve this, almost impossible task, CoA must be overhauled by architects. Architects must put pressure on CoA, may be even by returning the bar as you have suggested out of frustration.

But, as a pragmatic person, I see one opportunity.

Existence of Indian Institute of Architects can be a game changer, provided it can be made to rise to the occasion. If IIA rises, you can even set aside CoA and work through IIA. If you plan to do it, please note my full support to your cause. You are not alone. I am ready to help any time.

All the best.

Samir Shukla

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1 Comment
  1. ashok goel says

    No clarity of thoughts in the letter written by the learned gentleman.

    Lots of if and buts.

    If you want to do something ,go ahead.

    Be a party in the case and put your arguments and facts before the court.

    You do not need the shoulder of Sudhir Vohra or IIA or COA..

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