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India’s Road Infrastructure and Economic Development Research Paper


Since 2000, the economy of India has been growing very fast thus placing tremendous strain on the country’s infrastructure (Sahoo and Dash 359). This problem is worsened by the fact that the country’s infrastructure has been poorly managed. Lack of new infrastructures and developments have affected various economic issues in the country (Agarwal 4). The government has therefore been focusing on the problem of infrastructure in order to support the growing economy.

However, there are specific factors that restrict different attempts to improve various infrastructural systems. This research paper examines the nature of this practice and offers appropriate measures that can be undertaken to support the country’s road transport system.

Problem Identification

The Indian economy grew very fast throughout the last quarter of the twentieth century. In 1991, the government embraced the concept of economic liberalization thus attracting more foreign investors and business partners (Agarwal 3). This move “ushered in a new wave of a free market system in India” (Verma 13). By the year 2000, the economy was growing at a rate of over 7 percent. This growth rate explains why India’s economy is followed carefully by the other BRIC nations. Such nations include China, Brazil, and Russia.

However, experts predicted a poor economic performance from 2000 due to various challenges such as lack of infrastructure. The issues associated with India’s infrastructure continue to affect different aspects of the economy. The country has not undertaken any major road construction project within the last three decades (Saluja 2). This malpractice has affected the objectives of many investors and citizens. Similar deficits are also observed in other critical areas such as railroads, ports, and telecommunication services.

Problem Justification

The World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report (2011-2012) indicated that India’s infrastructure was a blow to its economic goals (Agarwal 1). The report focused on different aspects of the country’s road systems. The “country’s road network was criticized because of its insufficiency” (Verma 64). It was also poorly-adapted to address the changing needs of different investors and businesspeople. Experts and economic analysts continue to single out road infrastructure as one of the biggest economic hindrances in India. Businesspeople and entrepreneurs planning to invest in India have remained skeptical because of these infrastructure challenges.

The government has “failed to consider the major threats posed by inadequate infrastructure during the halcyon period of India’s economic boom” (Saluja 6). The past one decade has been characterized by numerous challenges and obstacles due to the inefficiency of the country’s road network (Singh 19). The country’s expanding population is also putting much pressure on the existing infrastructure (Jones 15). The rapid rate of industrialization experienced within the past three decades has led to a major infrastructural challenge.

Singh observed that “over 65 percent of all freight in the country was being transported using the country’s road networks” (17). Traffic has remained severe as more people continue to buy vehicles. The maximum speed for trucks in different highways is 40 km/hour. Some of the country’s big cities such as Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata, and New Delhi lack adequate infrastructure. Traffic jams have been observed to cause losses amounting to over 1 billion dollars (Singh 17). Some foreign investors have relocated their businesses to other countries with efficient road transport networks. Such investors have undertaken the move in order to achieve their business goals.

The country’s urban population “stands at 380 million today” (Deb 19). The current road network is unable to support the logistical needs of these citizens and their businesses. This population is expected to surpass the 500 million mark by 2017 (Deb 46). The rate of rural-to-urban migration in India has reached grand proportions. Date and Sundararaman therefore believe that India will have to deal with the problems affecting its road infrastructure before focusing on new economic development goals (122).

Historical Background: Causes of the Phenomenon

Several factors can be used to explain the nature of this problem. To begin with, India embraced a powerful economic stimulation initiative without focusing on the issue of infrastructure. The last two decades of the 20th century were characterized by new business practices and economic incentives. Foreign investors were attracted to support various industrial processes and economic agendas. However, the government did not project the implications such economic initiatives would have on the country’s road network systems. As well, population growth has led to new transportation needs. The current population growth should compel the government to construct better and safer roads (Chandra 18). This issue has been ignored in India for several decades.

Deb also outlines the country’s land system as a major factor affecting the construction of roads in India (32). In India, the government must deal with the land acquisition policy before securing enough space to expand roads and railroads (Chandra 9). In order to get the required piece of land, 80 percent of the landowners should agree thus affecting the country’s efforts to have new roads (Deb 33). As well, social and environmental evaluations should be done before initiating any road construction project in the country (Mishra and Kar 62). Consequently, such requirements have affected the implementation and completion of many projects in the country.

Successful projects are usually guided by properly-designed engineering and planning processes (Mishra and Kar 68). Such processes are not taken seriously in India thus affecting the success of many projects. This fact explains why several projects are usually abandoned especially in different suburbs and rural regions. The absence of standardization explains where different service providers might not collaborate to complete projects in a timely manner (Chaze 49).

The government has always failed to involve local communities and stakeholders throughout the construction process for roads (Deb 93). This malpractice encourages more individuals to disorient such projects thus straining the country’s transportation needs.

The absence of effective collaboration between the government and local stakeholders is something that has widened this problem. The government has been unable to get a clear picture of the major challenges affecting the country’s transportation sector. The decision not to involve such stakeholders throughout the project lifecycle has led to new problems. Environmentalists have also been ignored thus making it impossible for the country to develop appropriate road infrastructural systems (Chaze 62).

Reflection: Possible Solutions

The government has acknowledged that the country is facing a major challenge that might have disastrous implications on its economy. The rate of urbanization in India continues to put much pressure on the existing roads. The citizens also require adequate roads that can support their economic needs. The most appropriate solution towards addressing this problem is to construct efficient roads that can improve the level of transportation (Chandra 18). However, the obstacles mentioned in this paper should be addressed before focusing on this new solution.

The first potential solution is “to strike a balance between the needs of the public and those of the private sector” (Yoshino and Nakahigashi 8). This means that the government will begin by examining the environmental implications, health impacts, and social aspects that define different road construction projects (Chaze 63). The move will ensure more stakeholders are involved thus making it possible for the government to acquire enough land for building new roads.

A “distributed model for constructing roads across the nation is also needed in order to link different cities” (Yoshino and Nakahigashi 17). This model will ensure more people have access to road transport.

Some problems such as lack of transparency and corruption have affected the delivery of road constructions projects in the country. The government should eliminate these challenges in order to ensure more people have access to quality roads. The government can also allocate adequate financial resources to improve the country’s infrastructure (Oyedele 12). Although many experts believe strongly that the move might have negative impacts on the economy, the most agreeable fact is that more people will benefit from such infrastructural systems in the future (Byoungki 23). Different investors should also be identified in order to address the country’s infrastructure needs.


India remains one of the fast-growing economies in Asia and across the globe. Its hegemony in the region is something that requires reliable infrastructural systems. The existing challenges should therefore be addressed proper using strategies and ideas. The government must construct better roads in order to tackle this challenge. Such roads will attract more investors and support the country’s economic goals (Date and Sundararaman 87). In conclusion, India should accelerate the conceptualization and implementation of all new road systems in an attempt to support its economic growth.

Works Cited

Agarwal, Manish. “The Opportunity and Challenge of India’s Infrastructure.” Gridlines 1.1 (2013): 1-11. Print.

Byoungki, Kim. “Infrastructure Development for the Economic Development in Developing Countries: Lessons from Korea and Japan.” GSICS Working Paper 1.1 (2006): 1-25. Print.

Chandra, Pankaj. “The Logistics Sector in India: Overview and Challenges.” Research and Publications 1.1 (2007): 1-34. Print.

Chaze, Aaron. India: An Investor’s Guide to the Next Economic Superpower. New York: Wiley, 2014. Print.

Date, Vivek and Bhuma Sundararaman. Road Infrastructure: Issues and Implications. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012. Print.

Deb, Sandipan. The India Infrastructure Report. New Delhi: DIANE Press, 2014. Print.

Jones, Stephen. “Infrastructure Challenges in East and South Asia.” Development Studies 1.1 (2006): 1-20. Print.

Mishra, Aswini and Bibhu Kar. “Growth and Infrastructure Investment in India: Achievements, Challenges, and Opportunities.” Economic Annals 63.196 (2013): 51-70. Print.

Oyedele, Olufemi. “The Challenges of Infrastructure Development in Democratic Governance.” Construction Economics and Management 1.1 (2012): 1-15. Print.

Sahoo, Pravakar and Ranjan Dash. “Infrastructure development and economic growth in India.” Journal of the Asia Pacific Economy 14.4 (2009): 351-365. Print.

Saluja, Dipender. “5 ways India can overcome its infrastructure challenges.” World Economic Forum 1.1 (2014): 1-9. Print.

Singh, Sanjay. “Urban Transport in India: Issues, Challenges, and the Way Forward.” European Transport 52.5 (2012): 1-26. Print.

Verma, Manisha. Improving Delivery Outcomes in Ppps in Road Infrastructure in India. New Delhi: Omniscriptum Gmbh & Company, 2015. Print.

Yoshino, Naoyuki and Masaki Nakahigashi. “The Role of Infrastructure in Economic Development.” Center of Excellence 1.1 (2000): 1-29. Print.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "India’s Road Infrastructure and Economic Development." September 5, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/indias-road-infrastructure-and-economic-development/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'India’s Road Infrastructure and Economic Development'. 5 September.

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