Aussie lawmaker pitches for making Lucknow, Canberra sister cities

Lucknow: An Australian lawmaker of Indian origin, Deepak-Raj Gupta, has mooted the idea of making Lucknow and Canberra ‘sister cities’ after discovering the grave of landscape designer and architect Walter Burley Griffin of the Australian capital here in the Nishatganj cemetery.

Gupta, who has been here to attend the seventh conference of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association of India Region mooted the idea after laying a wreath on Griffin’s grave.

The architect had visited the city in October 1935 on an invitation to design the library of the University of Lucknow. He died here in February 1937.

“After discovering late Griffin’s grave here, I strongly feel Lucknow and Canberra should become sister cities,” said Gupta, a member of the legislative assembly from Yerrabi in Australian.

“I have proposed that Canberra and Lucknow should be given the status of sister cities. This will lead to a number of things,” said Gupta, adding it will strengthen the existing bonds between the two cities.

Pointing out the inherent bond between the two cities due to Griffin connection, Gupta said, “The architect of Canberra is laid to rest here in Lucknow. This is a big thing that the person who had designed the capital city of Australia, one of best capital cities, is buried in Lucknow.”

Drawing parallel between popular British singer Cliff Richard and Australian architect Griffin, Gupta said, “People know that Cliff Richard was born here (in Lucknow). There is someone who studied here and became famous, and there is someone famous who died here.”

This was also one of the reasons of attending the 7th CPA, said Gupta, elated over his discovery of the grave for which he did a good amount running around here.

Elated over his discovery, Gupta said his work looked like that of “Finding Nemo” – a 2003 American computer-animated adventure film.

“My job has been like that of Finding Nemo,” he quipped.

Emphasising for the “sister cities” status of Lucknow and Canberra, Gupta said, “There is a very good reason now (to go for the sister cities status), as the person who designed one city has been laid to rest in the other city.”

“This will lead to a number of things,” he said, adding “A large number of people in Australia do not know this.”

“This is a good opportunity for people to know Lucknow. People can come and pay their respects to the designer. I think if the Uttar Pradesh government and the government of Australia promote this, the place may become an attractive tourism destination,” he said.

“It will also become a place from where students of architecture can draw inspiration,” he said, adding: “In future there can be exchange programmes of students between Lucknow and Canberra.”

Gupta said his discovery may also start tourism between Australia and Lucknow in a big way.

The Australian lawmaker also desired that the Uttar Pradesh government should arrange for installation of a statue of the late architect near his grave.

“I want that his (Griffin’s) statue should be installed in the vicinity with a brief history of his work and achievements. If the local tourism department mentions this as one of the attractions and must-visit places (of the city), informing that the designer of Canberra is laid to rest here, it will create curiosity among people,” he said.

“I have handed over a proposal in this regard on behalf of my Chief Minister Andrew Barr of Australian Capital Territory to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath,” said Gupta, adding Taj Mahal too, after all, is a grave.

“It will strengthen the bonding between Canberra and Lucknow. Display and exhibition of his works may also be organised. The australian government may fund it as well,” he said, adding his efforts will be to make it an annual event when people can go there on Griffin’s death anniversary on February 11 to pay their tributes to him.

Gupta is presently here in Lucknow. He had come to the city to attend the seventh conference of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association’s India Region. The CPA has over 180 branches in legislatures of commonwealth countries. These branches are geographically grouped into nine commonwealth regions.

India Region CPA was earlier a part of the CPA’s Asia Region. It became an independent region from September 7, 2004.

The India Region of the CPA has its India Union Branch (Parliament of India) and chapters in 30 states and union territories branches. The conference was held on January 15 and 16 early this week.

While in Lucknow, the Australian lawmaker had been dividing his time between attending the conference and exploring the city to locate Griffin’s grave.

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