India’s growth held hostage by lack of leadership and management

In a summer study abroad trip to India I saw firsthand the result of poor management on a national scale.  As part of the course I was required to write an exhaustive essay that required in-depth research.  The paper focused on the state of infrastructure in India

The infrastructure found in a country is the backbone of the economy.  The level of development of the infrastructure determines how advanced an economy a country or region can have. It is no secret that India’s infrastructure is in a state that may derail its economic growth and keep it from reaching the upper echelon of global powers.

There are several reasons for the poor conditions of India’s infrastructure.  One of these reasons is poor management.  It must be said that India has shown the capacity to swiftly develop the infrastructure necessary to sustain its growth.  However, it seems as though that development has stalled.

The development of the electrical grid infrastructure has stalled due in part to the lack of urgency of those in power.  Throughout the country there are regional grids that have fallen into disrepair with no plans to fix them.  The country’s politicians use electrical power as a bargaining chip or as political capital when seeking election or reelection.  Electrical power is given to certain constituencies at discounted rates in exchange for votes.  There have been attempts at revamping the infrastructure but the plans are filed away because of a lack of consensus.

The poor state of the infrastructure is adversely affecting the country’s economy, yet the politicians see no reason to develop an efficient way of building up the infrastructure.  Throughout the country there are projects that are left only partially completed.  They are left unfinished due to a lack of cash flow or because the projects have gone over budget and additional funding cannot be secured.  There are projects that are undertaken in rural India with the stipulation that only the most basic tools are used.  The idea behind this is that more laborers will be required, thus creating more jobs.  Although well intentioned, projects like these cause more harm than good.  Instead of having a project take 5 years to complete by restricting the use of machinery and having the workers sit idly around, the country would be better served by having one project completed quickly and another one started and so on.  One such government initiative, The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, is drowning in corruption.  Because of this less than half of the projects begun in 2006 have been completed.  These inefficiencies are holding the development of the infrastructure hostage.

There needs to be a serious effort to streamline the processes necessary.  Apart from that there also need to be a real sense of urgency and organization from those in power.

Once leadership does what it is supposed to do, lead, then the infrastructure may finally reach the level of development necessary to allow India to become the superpower that it has the potential to become.  It is disturbing that the ineptitude of a few and the self-interest of some have served to stymie the development of something so critical to a nation’s economic growth and ability to raise its people out of poverty. Any thoughts?

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