When we build better roads to set the pace for Indias progress

Updated: Nov 15 2005, 05:30am hrs
Indias social and economic policies have brought a phenomenal boom in almost all areas: education, telecom, IT, media, entertainment, pharmaceuticals, automobiles, manufacturing, exports, agriculture, etc.

The movement of the Sensex, investment and easy housing schemes in the last few years also point to a new genre of the Indianhe is now asking questions, becoming bolder and willing to take chances. Aspirations of the middle-income class are being met through the reach all policies of the banking industry. A family of four who roughed it out on a two-wheeler can now look at a second-hand car at a cost almost similar to that of a new two-wheeler! The same story repeats itself in mortgages.

Despite these developments, while air and rail connectivity has moved ahead by leaps and bounds, the slow development of roads and connectivity has slowed down the overall improvement in life. Could one ever imagine having multiple options to travel by air in India Cheaper travel for long distances was always rail. But it never meant shorter travel time. With the Shatabdis and Express trains, that too has become a myth. However, the speed with which we are manufacturing automobiles, growth is getting choked. Goods are being manufactured at super speed but are not reaching destinations fast enough.

In major cities, where growth has been organic, suburbs are competing: the concentration on road development has begun but suburbs are not developing as fast as they should. In the last 4-5 years, lifestyles and family structures have changed across all income levels, probably because of the purchasing power. Our country manufactures food but 30-40 per cent is wasted because it doesnt reach destinations fast enough. People are keen on self-economic growth, men and women are joining the workforce in almost equal numbers, they are eating out more, going out more on family holidays. In other words, there is far more movement than there was earlier. But given the fact that travel time, essentially by road, is extremely slow and taxing, efficiency and manpower utilisation is shrinking.

Its a vicious circle: if movement becomes difficult or cumbersome, there will be no growth. Suburbs around cities will come up but not get inhabited, there will be no investment and it will contribute to the overall slowdown of the economy. Rural areas will not develop and advance if people do not move.

Look at the connectivity between Pune and Mumbai or even between Delhi and Noida. At one point, journeying between these cities was arduous. With the development of expressways and flyovers, the suburbs are developing at a very healthy pace and so are the rural areas around them. What use is improvement in air travel if reaching the airport becomes a nightmare!Growth in any nation comes if its people start moving. Efficiency of a nation comes when its people can optimize their time constructively. I agree we are a hugely increasing population but thats the reason why connectivity is so importantto make possible an even and balanced outward growth around cities rather than clogging concentrated areas.

If we are unwilling to venture out, there will be stagnation.Road infrastructure are like the blood vessels of a human body, they sustain all other components that form the body. According to me, improvement in all spheres will come if we concentrate on developing our road networkto ease the pressure on the population and to encourage them to move forward and, thereby, grow and progress.

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