US embassy in New Delhi turns 50 Monday


New Delhi : The US embassy in New Delhi will celebrate the 50th anniversary of its majestic chancellery building Monday – a milestone that coincides with a new moment in the India-US relations that have been revolutionised by a landmark nuclear deal.

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It will also be probably the last function presided over by US ambassador David Mulford, who is set to return to Washington later this month after a distinguished tenure that saw a dramatic transformation in India-US ties.

Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit will be the chief guest at the golden jubilee ceremony, which will also be attended by scores of diplomats, celebrities and mediapersons.

The US embassy building was formally inaugurated Jan 5, 1959 in the presence of India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

In those days, the ties between the two countries were lukewarm at best, marked by the politics of the Cold War era as India championed non-alignment and made it a point to maintain scrupulous distance from big power politics.

Fifty years later, decades of mistrust and misunderstanding have given way to an all-encompassing strategic partnership that culminated in the formal sealing of the path-breaking nuclear pact in October last year.

The historic chancery building, that has come to be a symbol of the blossoming ties between the world’s largest democracies, was designed by architect Edward Durell Stone. None other than famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright hailed the design of the majestic building which was later chosen as the model for the Kennedy Centre for Performing Arts in Washington.