Is India finally improving its infrastructure?
Amidst all the hype regarding the Indian economy, the inevitable “Yes, India is doing well, but..” statement is most likely to peg India’s poor infrastructure as public enemy # 1.
For instance, Janet Yellen in a mostly optimistic essay, A Monetary Policymaker’s Passage to India says
In the view of most private and public sector representatives with whom we spoke, the number one barrier to sustainable growth at the recent accelerated pace in India is infrastructure, particularly transportation and power.
My actual knowledge of India’s infrastructure is limited to anecdotal observations in just two cities, Chennai and Mumbai. However, suspect that most of what I’ve seen is true of other cities. For instance, comparing Chennai 2006 with Chennai 1996.
– Telephones: tremendous progress, especially in cell phones.
– Air travel: growth and lots more options. The airports have improved but that isn’t saying a whole lot. They’ve got a long way to go.
– Power: Chennai was probably better off with respect to power compared to other Indian cities, back in 1996. In other words, it wasn’t as bad. Can’t see any significant difference, for good or bad. However, power for commercial and industrial use is expensive.
– Roads: Chennai’s traffic is far worse today and I fear that it’s about to get even more horrendous. I’ve heard innumerable horror stories about Bangalore’s traffic jams. Looks like Bangaloreans will have someone else to commisserate with.
– Ports, railways, inter-state road transport: Don’t know enough to comment.
However, T N Ninan thinks that there may be a glimmer of hope, yet.
... it is probably true that the worst phase of India’s infrastructure problem (communications, transport, power) is over. In the case of even the most intractable problem (power), the solutions are more or less in place and the results have begun to show.
Q) Do you think Ninan’s optimism is justified?