Pathway to Progress
The history of humankind is replete with instances of migration – Africa to Asia & Europe; Central Asia to India (the ‘Aryan invasion’); across the freezing Atlantic from North America to Alaska & the ARctic regions or visa versa. All this entailed transport of men & material. So, means of transport were always an important factor in human evolution – whether it be on foot, bullock carts, horses, donkeys, yaks, camels or the high flying aircraft carriers which reach you to places across the globe in a few hours.
When we talk of transport today, what we actually mean are highways and super-highways, bullet trains flying by on fast tracks, the metro rail which has metamorphosed urban life, et al. Road transport is still the prime means of conveying people & goods from one place to another. This means that a country needs good, well maintained roads covering the length and breadth of the country, including remote and inaccessible regions. This is a generation of migration again, like our ancestors, when people move away from their hometowns to the big cities in search of livelihoods. Travelling for holidays has also become a big fad nowadays. And, of course, consumer and non-consumer items are also transported from one place to another, whether it be milk & vegetables or refrigerators & washing machines. Roads are, thus, to a large extent the nerve centre of the economy. Planning & building more roadways, connecting the remotest parts of the country is thus, crucial to a developing economy like India, specially with ‘ Make in India’ policies of the government.
One of the excitements of travelling during my childhood was to watch through the windows of the train for curves when you could see the entire train. But the railways are not just the kind of things dreams of made of. The railways, with its wide network of goods and passenger trains, is truly the lifeline for a vast country like India. From transporting passengers from Kashmir to Kanyakumari to conveying coal and iron to our factories, railways does it all. India, has perhaps, one of the best and most extensive rail networks in the world, operating 21,000 plus trains per day, though sadly, a highly unsung fact. It is only the accidents and delays that make the news, not the fact that it conveys passengers & goods at such cheap rates.
Shipping and waterways are just as important means of transport in a country with oceans on three sides and a mighty rivers criss-crossing the country. The Sagarmala project of the government aims to make ports engines of growth. So also its decision to make inland waterways national waterways, thus utilising our riverways as tools of development.
You cannot talk of transport without talking of pollution in the same breadth. Both seem to go hand & hand, the one not existing without the other. Green means of transport like the cycle, cycle rickshaws, victorias, hand carts, etc and of course, he daddy of them all, the human foot, should be encouraged as means of transport at least for short distances. Why should one take a bike or car to go grocery shopping at the nearby grocery shop? A morning walk to buy milk and bread is definitely more healthy than zooming over on a bike. Also, green belts around highways and major roads should be planned to create an oxygen belt around them. The government’s Green Highway Policy is a welcome step in this direction.
Aviation is still thought of as the rich man’s mode of transport. However, that is fast disappearing myth , if one only checks out the airports today. They are full of people of all ages & economic status. This is primarly because people want to travel fast & reach speedily. Civil Aviation has, therefore, become an important means of travel. The government is trying to come to terms with this fact and the civil aviation policy is soon expected.
The English poet Robert Frost said in one of his poems, ‘ The woods are lovely, dark & deep. And I have miles to go before I sleep” . Our first Prime Minister Pandit Jawarhalal Nehru quoted this often when he talked of development milestones. It is true that the major means of transport – roadways, railways and aircraft carriers – are crucial to development of the nation and issues related to them should be addressed if the government wants to put the nation on the economic map of the world.
On The Path of Progress
India today is consistently progressing and moving forward to attain newer heights in numerous sectors such as infrastructure, innovation, space technology, resource conservation and so on. From progress towards improvement in governance, policies and quality of institutions to setting international benchmarks, India has been making remarkable strides towards developing into a modern nation while retaining its strong traditional roots. It has rightfully earned its place of pride and eminence on the global platform.
The wheels of transformation are thus moving towards paradigms that make the Government an “enabler” and not a mere “provider”. As we observed, “If India is to meet the challenge of change, mere incremental progress is not enough. A metamorphosis is needed.” As he stated, the transformation of India cannot happen without a transformation of governance, the transformation of governance cannot happen without a transformation in mindset; and a transformation of mindset cannot happen without transformative ideas.
India is a unique combination of urban-rural, agricultural-industrial and formal-informal skill components and as such India’s development plan or its trajectory is unique in terms of interventions, ideas as well as approaches. With one of the world’s youngest population to its advantage, India has tremendous potential. Initiatives for employment and skill generation, focus on MSMEs and research, launch of ‘Study in India’ programme are among the numerous steps being taken towards progress. With initiatives such as the National Health policy 2017, the launch of Chandrayaan-2, Direct Benefit Transfer, among others, India is making significant strides in its quest for development. The Jal Shakti Ministry has been formed for a unified and integrated approach towards the conservation, development and management of the country’s precious water resources.
India aims to achieve the 5 trillion dollar economy target by 2024. To catapult India into becoming future ready, various citizen oriented initiatives have been launched in diverse sectors like infrastructure, financial services, e-governance, banking, education, agriculture, healthcare and logistics, among others. Likewise, rural electrification, Smart Cities, Swachh Bharat, Bharatmala and so on speak of the vast reach of initiatives for all round development.
Building effective, accountable and transparent mechanisms is thus an important part of building a nation that would make an inclusive path to rapid growth possible.
These initiatives have made public participation and inclusion possible like never before, thus making citizens active partners in the growth story where India stands connected globally and also contributes to global endeavours. The focus areas and role of the Government are ever widening and dynamic. With its pro-people, pro-growth, ransparent and active engagement, the Government is consistently taking its people forward on a progressive path to development.