For nearly a decade, the world has wondered with trepidation: What does Narendra Modi’s vision for India look like? In a multimedia feature for The New Yorker, journalist and author Daniel Brook answers that question by taking it literally, examining Prime Minister Modi’s ambitious redevelopment of India’s cities and, now, its capital. Tracing the decades-long partnership between Modi and his Robert Moses-like court architect, Bimal Patel, through earlier collaborations in their home state of Gujarat and the holy city of Varanasi, Brook uncovers the ideological roots of the today’s multi-billion-dollar capital revamp.
As a new parliament opens on New Delhi’s Central Vista and a gargantuan new prime minister’s residence breaks ground nearby, Brook shows how the capital redesign is systematically stripping all non-Hindu elements—Muslim, Buddhist, and secular—from the capital’s architecture. Upon completion, Modi’s controversial, new New Delhi will symbolize the supplanting of India’s proudly pluralistic, secular democracy with a Hindu-nationalist state—exactly as the authoritarian prime minister intends.