Wednesday, 19 January, 2022
HomeOpinionHow Modi govt is building a new landscape in Old India

How Modi govt is building a new landscape in Old India

Modi govt has taken the powerful combination of infrastructure investment and welfarism to their current levels of ambition. However, there are hurdles.

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India is on a building spree: Highways, expressways, high-speed freight corridors, bridges over the sea, coastal freeways, metro lines in every large city, bullet trains, “semi-high speed” inter-city journeys from reimagined railway stations, new deep-sea ports, airports… it is a long and impressive list. If things had gone according to plan and schedule, the map of India would have been transformed by the time the 75th anniversary of Independence rolled around. Now, it will take a while longer.

Still, after three false starts, the trans-harbour link connecting Mumbai to its twin city on the mainland is finally getting built. The world’s tallest rail bridge, across the Chenab, is nearing completion. All-weather tunnels have been drilled under Himalayan passes. Bridges have been thrown across the Brahmaputra. High-speed freight trains 1.5 km long, with containers double-stacked, have been tried out on short stretches of the new freight corridors, at speeds faster than some express passenger trains. To these, one must add new-style urban centres like Dholera taking shape, however slowly, on the Mumbai-Delhi Industrial Corridor, even as Gujarat’s Gift City’s changing skyline and growing list of client companies suggest that an unlikely idea is finally bearing fruit.

Other transformations have been designed coterminously to accompany this change of the physical landscape. After bank accounts, cooking gas, toilets and health insurance, there will be tap water and electricity. There is also the intended shift from coal to renewables (vast expanses in the Rajasthan desert covered with solar panels), and to a new breed of electrical vehicles. Thus a new idea of India, if such it can be called, will be concretised to confirm to citizens, even those disappointed that farm incomes will not have doubled (as promised) or manufacturing increased its share of GDP sufficiently to provide millions of jobs, that there is indeed something to celebrate in the platinum jubilee year.

Meanwhile, the ever-more ambitious announcements of new projects that stretch to 2030 and beyond, and the investment sums involved, take one’s breath away. Bullet trains are now planned on seven routes, not just Mumbai-Ahmedabad. Signal-free expressways with eight lanes or more will crunch travel times over 18,000 km, and four-lane highways will connect most district headquarter towns, besides there being fast inter-city trains in every direction. The investment? Rs 2 trillion for this, Rs 20 trillion for that, Rs 50 trillion for a third project, and Rs 70 trillion for a fourth. A Rs 200-trillion economy talks only in trillions!

Also Read: This is a new Modi. He’s betting on growth and taking big risks on the economy

You could say it all started with the Vajpayee government’s Golden Quadrilateral highway programme, followed by the Manmohan Singh government planning a green energy push, blueprinting the freight corridors and even conceptualising the first bullet train service. But it is unquestionably the Modi government that has taken the powerful combination of infrastructure investment and welfarism to their current levels of ambition.

Yet a familiar India surfaces at every step. Centre-state squabbles, environmentalists’ concerns, hassles over land acquisition, and plain old project delays have affected most projects. For Mumbai alone, this includes the new airport and the main north-south metro line as well as the coastal road, the terminus for the bullet train from Ahmedabad and the trans-harbour link. Meanwhile, plans for connecting every gram panchayat with a broadband link are less than halfway there.

Like the Navy’s ship-building, the natural time-line for almost any major project progressing from idea to project completion seems to be 20 years, instead of half that. That might explain the prime minister’s frustration with the bureaucracy, and his ministerial colleagues’ reputation for venting anger at officials. But overweening ambition may also be the problem, like the green energy drive that is likely to fall short of sharply escalated targets.

Finally, and inevitably, where is the money? A faltering economy has deprived the government of revenues and the private sector of surpluses. Special purpose companies have been set up, but the National Highways Authority of India is neck deep in debt while saddled with endless incomplete projects. The railways have tasted red ink, and the fiscal deficit is hitting the bond market. Asset monetisation is the new mantra, but the proof of that pudding will be in the selling.

By Special Arrangement with Business Standard

Also Read: Why Narendra Modi’s India is ‘partly free’, and where it is headed

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  1. The saltiness in the comment section is a heartening reminder that this government is doing quite well and has its priorities sorted. Whenever India does something good there is a barrage of ill-intentioned comments on various things. Be rest assured detractors, this government will make India a strong country in every department, from technology to hunger. And yes we’ll make sure they get full majority in 2029-2034 as well (2024 is a done deal already).

    • ”The saltiness in the comment section is a heartening reminder that this government is doing quite well and has its priorities sorted. ‘
      You have a perverse reasoning : criticism of faulty policies is admiration. In that case, why do they arrest opponents ?

      ‘Be rest assured detractors, this government will make India a strong country in every department, from technology to hunger.’

      Indeed, Modi is making Indians strong in hunger. You got that one right !

      • You have option of catching Samjhota Express to move to land of milk & Honey. After all this is land of Kufrs, Idolaters, Pagans, Heathens.

  2. We must trust the current government. Those who don’t observe India developing super fast are blind.
    Demonetization, implementation of GST etc. are master strokes. Judiciary was never so good before. India has become corruption free under current government. Minorities and farmers are enjoying the privileges given by the current government.
    Time is not far when Americans and Europeans would start migrating to India in next couple of years.

  3. India is heading in right direction. Demonetization, implementation of GST or any other policy which most of the people are not fine with, are the master strokes and the benefits of such policies are stealth and will become evident in the near future. At this rate of growth, I am afraid that people from USA, Canada and Europe will start migrating to India in next couple of years. Those who don’t see India developing super fast are blind. We must trust the current government and instead of criticizing it we must appreciate the efforts it has taken..

    • ‘…. benefits of such policies are stealth and will become evident in the near future.’

      Modi said wait for 58 days to see benefits of demonetisation, otherwise hang him. Why are you asking for an extension after 5 years to see the benefits of demonetisation? That is a pathetic admission of failure.

      ‘….I am afraid that people from USA, Canada and Europe will start migrating to India in next couple of years.’

      Yeah right, Indians are scrambling for H1 B visas and taking their money out. I don’t think tourists want to come because of attacks on women.

  4. You mean it? 70% of his term in office is over. Got covid-1 as solid corect excuse for no Economic progress. Now what will be the new excuse. Tired of anticipatory Bullet trains in India.

  5. Ninen attempted to paint a picture of India on China background. It is not easy to achieve at a pace we have seen infrastructure dev what we have seen in China. To an has fallen prey for govt. advertisements like mentioning about highest bridge of railways in Kashmir as an achievement of Modi government, though it would be a engineering marvel, unless Nina had been privy to some information about PM involvement in finding engineering solutions as he has done in surgical strikes. Yes, we should agree on welfare measures like gas and toilets. On insurance this govt. again has shown unilaterism rather than working with state govt. for better delivery of health care, as many states already have such govt. sponsored insurance schemes. Unfortunately the media also failed to highlight this aspect.

  6. This article is in the Shekhar Gupta style. Start with a long list of achievements of Modi the transformer, none of which has concretised, and then say in the last two paragraphs ‘I have doubts’ !! That way, you will not get a raid from the Gestapo or be waylaid by the Bajrang Dal.

    The last part of the article shows Ninan does not believe the glowing first part ! They talked about 100 Smart Cities. Not one has taken off.

    About the Bullet train being built with Japanese money – we don’t hear about it anymore.

    Indeed, when the economy shrank after demonetisation, it is scarcely credible that any of this can materialise. A lot of money is poured into defence now. Adani’s GDP has grown the highest, above Elon Musk and US tycoons, during the Covid period – while the rest of the country has become poorer. Logically that has to be the case – if the national GDP went down, but a few people became super rich, the majority had to become poorer; and it is clear that Modi was the enabler for the super rich, for which they give him all electoral financing and media support.

    When Trump came to Gujarat, where there is supposedly a lot of development. why did Modi build a wall ?

    Their whole culture is crony capitalism and building an oligarhcy between the RSS, a few Gujarati tycoons and govt… Lying and teaching everyone to lie to survive is their culture. Shekhar Gupta and Ninan have to conform – otherwise, you will be attacked like Rana Ayyub or Disha Ravi.

    For the common man, they keep people occupied with Ram mandir and religious ceremonies, and destroy the business of minorities. This is their model.

    • destroy the business of minorities. This is their model.

      It this is the case why don’t we see flood of minority moving to Pakistan?

      As Tasleema said if Muslims were persecuted in India they would leave India as Hindus left Pakistan. The fact is none of the Muslims including Tog has moved to Pakistan means situation is not bad.

  7. Corrupt congress and evil dirty left liberals had 70 years to at least provide drinking water to the masses, they blew their opportunity. Now that Modi is here he will make it happen and make you pay for it. At least am glad there is some nationalist like him. all other issues like religion, right to abuse others, incessant complaining, and other crap can be flushed down the toilet. Modi will bring a better India for everyone, there will always be loosers and naysayers–proof is in eating the pudding, the masses want more of it.

  8. In a country where the governments have worked with the next election in view, none bothered to plan for long term. Whether a project needs 20 years to complete is a different issue. But, governments have to plan for tomorrow, next year, next decade, and perhaps next several decades. After all the money need not come out of one year’s union budget.

  9. What a change…from the good for nothing, minority appeasing Hindu-hating UPA — to Modi’s govt striving to build on the ground and change people’s lives for the better: sab ke saath sab ka vikas.

    Rightly said Vajpayee showed the way with the golden quadrilateral project of connecting all of India with modern 4 lane highways — something that was rocket science for all the govts before that?

    • UnLike your fake and strange name, the real Bharat is being built and yes their are ups and downs but the intent and its implementation is strong

  10. Refreshing to read an opinion which lists a lot of positive developments, one thing missing is the reference to whatever is happening in the defense sector.
    Putting money in the hands of people through the states (not by DBT) to boost consumption seem to be a popular demand against spending through the infra projects which will create assets and provide jobs.
    Instead of ending with where is the money, would it not have been better to give some suggestions as to where it could be found. Finding faults and shortcomings is the human tendency finding solutions needs application like Einstein.

  11. Meanwhile India is having worst unemployment crisis, India’s ranking in Hunger Index is worsening,malnutrition-stunting&wasting has increased in the last three years as per NFHS-5, rural distressing is increasing, India is losing its democratic credentials , free and independent press would soon be a thing of past. While of some of these has their roots in previous governments, Modi Government has really catapulted India towards the present condition. From his decision of demonetization, ill fated implementation of GST, harassing of Journalist has been the hallmark of this Government. Not to mention giving full freedom to his ministers, Godi media and IT cell to call every democratic protest an anti-national, tukde tukde gang, urban naxals and conspiracy against India, MODI Government is hell bent on converting India into Orwellian dystopian society of Nineteen Eighty-Four.

    • Learn to acknowledge on what is going right. Don’t give too much credit to mostly western based reports on hunger and poverty, they are mostly written by loony leftists with an axe to grind against Modi. The farm bill is a bold step which will most definitely increase incomes. Bottom a lot of good is happening in Bharat and learn to acknowledge that

      • @A.Mehta: You can’t expect enslaved coconuts; brown outside (despite fair & lovely!) and deep white Christian supremacists inside just the British who enslaved them!! They & their Jihadi/commie comrades are people who have to be shown the mirror with a bumboo up their ***!!

    • May be you should move to our Pakistani brother’s house, as you see India going down. I am sure you will be happy there. i love it when I hear Hindu sounding names in Pakistan.


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