How the Jamnagar Durbar is a worthy rebuttal to the Delhi Durbar

The Jamnagar Durbar of March 2024 emphatically crowns India as the new ruler of the socio-commercial universe, with the worthy Ambanis at the forefront of this dramatic transformation

Shivaji Dasgupta
New Update
Mukesh Ambani with his son Anant Ambani at pre-wedding events of Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant, in Jamnagar

Mukesh Ambani with his son Anant Ambani at pre-wedding events of Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant, in Jamnagar

Kolkata: The Delhi Durbar of December 1911 was curated to commemorate the crowning of King George V and to proclaim him and Queen Mary as the rulers of bountiful India. The Jamnagar Durbar of March 2024 emphatically crowns India as the new ruler of the socio-commercial universe, with the worthy Ambanis at the forefront of this dramatic transformation. Full circle, you may well say, and karmic boomerang, I will sincerely insist.


In the 1911 edition, every Governor and ruler of princely states were ordered to attend in dutiful diligence. At Coronation Park, Delhi, a semicircular grandstand had been built for 10,000 Government officials and special invitees, while an artificial mound was created to seat 50,000 curious subjects. The King Emperor wore the Imperial Crown of India, with 6,100 inarguably ill-gotten diamonds, in the vicinity of a velvet and miniver cap weighing close to a blood-tainted kilogram. Seated on thrones, they received the largesse of symbolic subservience and gorgeous goodies from the native chieftains and in one fell sweep, the annulment of the partition of Bengal and the shifting of the capital from Calcutta was suitably announced.

On the following day, a Jharokha Darshan was conducted at the Red Fort, to delight half a million native subjects, while 26,800 silver medals were distributed to loyal warriors of the crown, both white and brown, As collateral brownies, this mammoth regal circus earned sufficient loyalties of Indians, which extended effectively to the First World War, direly in the offing. Most interestingly, the guests were mostly housed in perfectly manicured tents with every worldly trapping, closely in common with the Jamnagar Durbar of 2024. Although the levels of luxury in those hand-crafted times would possibly surpass the epicurean strata of the present, modern-day hard-earned royalty is a lot more egalitarian than the mindset of unapologetic entitlement.

Without digressing farther, it is necessary to move on to the larger point. In the geopolitics of the early 20th century, the Delhi Durbar was an acknowledged game changer as it was presided over by the reigning monarchs physically, not in absentia like the previous editions of 1877 and 1903. As a consequence, leading to both gravitas and ceremony, suggesting clearly that the Empire was indeed for the long-term keeps the world wars still not conceived. Those attending were to be fed a diet of continuity, whether disconcerting or assuring sheerly a function of applicable Anglophilia.  


In the econopolitics of the 21st century, the Jamnagar Durbar is no less significant and one sincerely wishes that no disruptive force spooks the long-term party. Quite plainly, the world is in attendance and equally truthfully, on the stated terms of India as chaired by a superbly significant Indian. Terms, which can vary from immeasurable remuneration like Rihanna to grateful adhesion like Bollywood and Sport, and the overt salaam of Bill Gates and his ilk, greedy for a slice of our prolific demography. Even an amateur scan of Google 1.0 will confirm that jobs everywhere in the universe are dependent on the demand sensitivity of Indian customers, such be the twists and turns of the timeless OTT series that is History. This is a matter of national pride and not subjective politics, do note the difference.

In this durbar, the characters are no less diverse and significant than in Delhi of 1911. The IPL A-listers, whose fortunes most certainly are linked to contractual renewals, like the dissenting princely states epitomised by Maharaja Sayajirao of Baroda. A pattern that is emulated by the dancing Khans and Bollywood at large, where influence is seemingly less direct but equally potent, like every other serving Indian from the Raj whether regal or plebeian. Then, the foreigners, whether the luggage maker Louis Vuitton and the automotive Rolls Royce seeking princely patronage in 1911 or the technology supremos hungry for a pie of our 1.4 billion headcount with 52% internet penetration in 2024. India, as famously identified by the East India Companies of the Dutch, French and English, remains the eternal golden goose, a scintillating hub of fame and fortune. Do read the impeachment proceedings of Warren Hastings, lest you are in doubt of the retrospective context.

It is a common habit in social media India, to berate our achievements and focus instead on the arenas for correction. This is actually a healthy democratic practice, as the sanctity of institutions lies in their ability to be torpedoed, for intent and action. But every naysayer must be gently guided to the events of 1911, when a foreign master from an alien land, with absolutely no intention of leaving, decided to forge a strategic lifelong bondage. To be busted, rather deeply, by the passage of time, wherein a business family from Jamnagar becomes the deepest demonstration for a change in tides, dictated by the unrelenting power of human endeavour.

A quirky connection between 1911 and 2014 is the temporary luxury tent, as already hinted. Then, it was the invariable refuge of a devious scoundrel or a brainwashed groupie. Now, it is the delightful destination for an ambitious gold digger or a committed self-builder. Either way, India of today has everything to gain. On this to toast, no time we must lose.