Public Administration

Contents

Introduction. 3

Background Information. 3

Options for Developing the Transport Infrastructure. 5

Economic Requirements. 6

Social Requirements. 7

Comparison. 7

Conclusion. 8

Recommendation. 9

References. 10

Enhancement of Transport Infrastructure in India

Introduction

Transport infrastructure describes the entire framework that consists of physical structures and facilities for transporting people and goods from one point to another (Forbes, 2014). It consists of all interconnected transport systems such as railways, airways, road, waterways, pipelines as well as terminals such as airports, bus stations and many others. Such terminuses are used for the on loading and offloading of both cargo and passengers, and maintenance purposes in general. Transport infrastructure is a vital component for steering the economy and ensuring development. Substantial economic opportunities in developing countries have been linked to the mobility of good, services, people and information. The levels of economic and social developments are directly correlated with well-connected transport networks and high density infrastructure systems (Rodrigue, Comtois & Slack, 2013). The underlying relation between the quantity and quality of these infrastructures is what creates these opportunities which amass numerous benefits to the economy. This paper will compare two options of improving the infrastructure in India, analyze the economic and social requirements and finally highlight some recommendations on which approach is the best.

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Background Information

India has the second largest population in the world which, according to the United Nations (2016) stands at a whopping 1,326,801,576. In terms of geographical extent, it is the seventh largest country in the world. It has become one of the fastest growing countries in the world and it needs to maintain that momentum in a more stable manner to alleviate poverty and improve the standards of living. From a practical standpoint, the economic growth of India depends entirely on the development of quality infrastructure, more so transport networks. According to Sahoo and Dash (2009), inefficient and inadequate infrastructure has the potential to cripple the economy of a country by slowing down the growth rate and increasing the transactions costs tremendously. As such, growth is limited, both in the short and long-term.

In India’s case, the extensive needs of the infrastructure system are well-known. The country has been faced by severe cases of underinvestment which have, in turn, resulted in dire consequences in vital areas such as railway, roads, airports and ports (Business Monitor International, 2013). The transport infrastructure has been deemed as insufficient and ill-adapted to suit the business needs of the growing population. In fact, this sector has been criticized by organizations and the business fraternity at large for being the greatest impediment to conducting business in the country. The railway system, for example, is already overcrowded and runs the risk of facing an increase in demand for the capacity of freight that can be transported. The roads are no better; they are in a deplorable state and public transport is generally unreliable and unsafe. Much to it, intra-regional connectivity is lacking. The Indian government has derailed from its plan of expanding the road network by almost 20 km per day, as promised, due to underinvestment and mismanagement of funds. This poses a great problem since approximately 65% of all the consignment is transported by road and traffic is yet, another menace (Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways, 2011a; Kumar, 2014). Therefore, there is a need to improve the transport sector in India, especially in the large cities of Mumbai, Bangalore and New Delhi because the urban population is projected to increase to around 500million by the end of 2017 due to rural-to-urban migration.

Fig. 1: A table showing the progress that the NHDP (National Highways Development Project) had made up to 2011 in terms of expanding India’s road network (Source: Ministry of Road Transport & Highways, 2011b).

Options for Developing the Transport Infrastructure

The road transport system is highly effective in facilitating transportation of goods and people from rural areas to urban centers. Expansion of the road could include the construction of more state and national highways to connect major industrial centers, cities, ports and states. The primary reason why this is the ideal transportation mode is because it covers remote areas which are inaccessible by railway. Furthermore, it provides necessary facilities to the industrial and agricultural sectors of the economy by availing an outlet for products and information.

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Secondly, the railway networks in India need a major upgrade (Jagot & Kala, 2012). They are very useful in enhancing long-distant travels while still offering the benefit of cost-effectiveness. There is a need to come up with freight-only railway lines that will allow for the free movement of freight devoid of interference. This will also ease the congestion along the major railway corridors to improve freight operations on a global scale.

Fig. 2: A table showing total coverage of Indian railways network (Source: http://www.indianrailways.gov.in)

Economic Requirements

Road transportation in India has a massive impact on the sustainability of economic growth and overall development of the country. For instance, it will increase the mobilization of resources through enhanced productivity. Products will be transported to the market within less time, and this will reduce transportation costs for users.  Railway, on the other hand, will facilitate the integration of fragmented market segments. This will ultimately result in the emergence of a modern market economy whose revenue will be substantial to the government. Additionally, railway networks will connect the industrial centers with markets and regions with raw materials and other resources. This will trigger industrial development by linking agriculturally productive regions to both domestic and regional markets.

Social Requirements

Both of these transport modes will be able to link people from rural areas with those residing in urban centers such as New Delhi and Mumbai. This is because the rural areas constitute the larger percentage of where the raw materials come from and the urban centers act as industrial and market outlets. Thus, railway and road networks will be reliable in establishing a cohesive link between these factions. Much to it, as far as social costs go, environmental damage caused by both these modes is significantly reduced.

Comparison

To begin with, developing more state and national highways in India will improve the economic state of the country by allowing businesses to move their products from production points to areas of high demand. This follows from the fact that approximately 65% of all freight is transported via road. As such, expanding the road network will ease traffic congestions and increase intra-region connectivity to ensure mobility of products and people.

Similarly, the introduction of freight-only railway lines will decongest the railway corridors. Currently, the railway system is able to ferry more than 8.7 billion passengers and approximately 1billion tons of freight in a year (Asturias, Garcia-Santana & Ramos, 2016). This is quite impressive! The returns that would be accrued in form of revenue if freight-only lines were introduced are simply immense. Therefore, in terms of economic requirements, railway infrastructure is the best form of transport since it has a higher carrying capacity; it is convenient for long-distance transportation and it allows for carrying of bulkier goods.

Crossing over to social requirements, road transportation is better suited to foster social interactions between urbanized people and those from the rural areas. However, it is unsafe as highlighted earlier on; for this reason, some people may perceive it negatively as far as its contribution to the country’s overall socioo-economic development is concerned. However, safety is something that Indians should be ready to trade in with operational effectiveness because road transport is by far ahead of railway transport in terms of contribution to the country’s gross domestic product. As at 2012, it accounted for about 4.8% of the country’s GDP, which the railway network’s contribution accounted for only 1% of GDP (Mohan, 2014; Singh & Malik, 2014). This implies that there are higher returns on investments with respect to road transport than in railway transport.

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Conclusion

  • India has a population of approximately 1.3 billion.
  • The economic growth of India depends entirely on the development of quality infrastructure, more so transport networks
  • The country has been faced by severe cases of underinvestment which have, in turn, resulted in dire consequences in vital areas such as railway, roads, airports and ports.
  • The transport infrastructure has been deemed as insufficient and ill-adapted to suit the business needs of the growing population
  • The railway system is already overcrowded and runs the risk of facing an increase in demand for the capacity of freight that can be transported.
  • Approximately 65% of India’s consignment is transported by road.
  • Road transportation in India has a massive impact on the sustainability of economic growth and overall development of the country.
  • While an expanded railway network will facilitate the integration of fragmented market segments, road transport will continue playing a more profound role in the day-to-day running of the country’s economy.

Recommendation

Based on the analysis made in this report, I highly recommend that road transport expansion be prioritized over railways to accommodate the ever-changing needs of the business environment. This is primarily because most of the businesses are located in urban centers such as New Delhi, and road transport is effective for the mobility of people and products. Much to it, it is flexible and convenient in that it is able to reach the remote rural areas where raw material and resources are located. Lastly, it is easier to transport perishable goods such as fruits and flowers easily through this mode rather than through railway networks.

References

Asturias, J., García-Santana, M. and Ramos Magdaleno, R. (2016). Competition and the welfare gains from transportation infrastructure: Evidence from the Golden Quadrilateral of India. Web.

Business Monitor International. (2013). India Infrastructure Report Q2 2013, Business Monitor International. http://bmireports.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/indiainfrastructure-report-q2-2013.html

Forbes, A. (2014). The geography of transport systems. Web.

Indianrailways.gov.in. (2015). Evolution of Indian Railways. Web.

Jagot, M. & Kala, A. (2012). “India’s PM Unveils Infrastructure Investment Plan”, Wall Street Journal June 6, 2012. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10 001424052702303665904577450692014546230.html

Kumar, A. (2014). Freight logistics & intermodal transport. Web.

Ministry of Road Transport & Highways. (2011b). Government of India Ministry of Road Transport & Highways 12th Five Year Plan (2012-17): Report of the Working Group on Central Roads Sector. Web.

Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways. (2011a). Report by India’s Ministry of Road Transport & Highways, September 2011. http://morth.nic.in/writereaddata/linkimages/ Policy%20Issues-9224727324.pdf

Mohan, H. (2014). Revenue From Road Transport In India. Web.

Rodrigue, J.P., Comtois, C. and Slack, B. (2013). The geography of transport systems. London: Routledge.

Sahoo, P. and Dash, R.K. (2009). Infrastructure development and economic growth in India. Journal of the Asia Pacific Economy14(4), 351-365.

Singh, H.M. and Malik, R., 2014. Revenue from Road Transport in India. Journal of Business Management & Social Sciences Research, vol. 4, no. 7, pp. 17-24.

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