According to Cambridge historian Angus Madison, around 1700 AD, India’s contribution to the world economy was around 22.6 percent. This Indian economy was 3.8% of the global economy in the year 1952. The reason for this contraction in the economy was the British rule of 200 years. The British adopted the policy of de-industrialization here and in the name of development of infrastructure, only those construction works should be done which strengthen the colonial rule of the British.
When India became independent in 1947, there were only ‘consumer goods industries’ in the name of industry. Apart from this there were few cotton-jute based industries. Jamshedpur and Kolkata had only a few iron-steel based factories in the name of heavy industry. Although the condition of the railway network was good at the time of independence, the roads were not given much attention. In the year 2018, where the length of national highways was 1,29,709 km, in 1947 its length was only 21,378 km.
The ‘Bombay Plan’ was brought for ‘Future India’ only 3 years before independence. Under this, the government and the public sector work together. Apart from this, there was also a provision to protect the domestic industry which was destroyed by the British. The first industrial policy is brought in India in the year 1948. In this industrial policy, the idea of mixed economy is carried forward as our nationalist politicians and economists also thought. After this, the Planning Commission is formed in the year 1950, which shapes, implements India’s plans for more than 6 decades.
The responsibility of deciding the direction of development of independent India is given to this Planning Commission. The first five year plan is brought in the year 1952. Based on the Harrod-Domar model, this model focuses more on the steel industry and irrigation systems. A new industrial policy is introduced in the second five year plan itself. The plan focuses on rapid industrialization. In these five years, many public sector industries, government institutions, universities etc. are built in the country. The third five year plan begins in the year 1961. In this plan based on Mahalanobis model, the vehicle of development of the country was to be carried forward with the help of trickle down effect. However, this plan failed because India had to face war with China-Pakistan during this period, and in the year 1966 there was a severe drought.
The next three years were only planned holidays. Or rather, work was done on a short-term development plan of one year each. Banks were nationalized in the Fourth Five Year Plan. With this, capital came to the industries and the government also got money for capital development. Its effect was seen in the fifth five year plan, while emphasis was laid on the construction of national highways in the country.
The transition period for the Indian economy was 1991. At this time the condition of the country’s economy was in dire straits; The country had only foreign exchange reserves left for only three weeks of imports. In such a situation, the government adopted a new economic policy. This new economic policy based on ‘liberalisation, privatization and globalization’ opened the doors of ‘closed Indian economy’ to the world. Now instead of controlling the industries, they were regulated. This increased investment in the country. Product self-sufficiency increased with increased investment and the country’s imports decreased with increased product self-sufficiency. This increased the foreign exchange reserves in the country.
The transfer of some of the money the government was using to promote public sector industries into private hands left the government with sufficient funds for capital infrastructure development. In the Ninth Five Year Plan, the government allocated substantial funds for human development, poverty reduction and development of capital infrastructure. The Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana was also introduced in the year 2000 during this period. This scheme connected the cities and remote villages with them. This brought ease in transportation of people including movement of goods.
It was during the year 2000 that the government gave further impetus to privatization. During this period, disinvestment was encouraged so that there would be more efficiency and competition in the functioning of public industries. The Golden Quadrilateral road project was also brought in during this time to connect the major metros of the country. The communication infrastructure in India was revolutionized when a new telecom policy was introduced in the year 1999 and BSNL’s monopoly in this sector was abolished. Through the revenue sharing model, people got the advantage of calling at cheaper rates and also opened up avenues for further development and research of this technology.
The twenty-first century was the era of communication revolution and in this era, apart from road, rail, aircraft, a great need was felt for another infrastructure, which we know as digital infrastructure. Digital India was launched in the year 2015 to fulfill this objective. For this, BharatNet project was started so that internet service can be provided through optical fiber even in remote areas of the country. It is the growing network of the Internet that even in times like epidemics, the country was not allowed to lag behind in the race of development through telemedicine, tele-education.
Bharatmala project was brought in the year 2015 to repair the road network. It is the effect of this scheme that the length of the National Highway has increased by about 50 percent in the last seven years. In the year 2014, where the total length of the highway was 91,287 km, it has increased to 1,37,625 km by March 2021. The government is also paying special attention to the repair of waterways. In the year 2015 itself, the Sagarmala project was created with this objective. Ports are to be modernized under this scheme. The development of an integrated freight transport system by connecting all the ports through rail, road etc. is also included under this plan.
‘Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik’ i.e. UDAN scheme is being developed with the objective that the common people of the country can also get the benefits of air travel at affordable prices. Under this, various airlines will provide flight services to the customers at cheap rates and the government will give them financial assistance in return for compensation for the loss caused to the airlines by these cheap rates. In order to enable the government to get the support of private sectors in infrastructure development, the government has prepared a scheme called National Infrastructure Pipeline.
While addressing the nation on 15 August 2021, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the PM Gatishakti Yojana. The scheme offers an integrated model of infrastructure development. Under this, various ministries and departments will contribute in infrastructure development through mutual coordination. Apart from the basic infrastructure, the present government is also paying enough attention to strengthen the defense ecosystem. For this, under the Make in India scheme, attention is being paid to the production of raw materials used in the defense manufacturing industry.
Along with improving the infrastructure of the country, it is also the responsibility of the government to provide employment to the countrymen. For this, the government started MGNREGA scheme in 2005. Under this, 100 days of employment is guaranteed to the villagers. MGNREGA beneficiaries do various infrastructure related works like construction of pavement, pond construction, community building etc. allotted by the Gram Panchayat.
Today, when India is entering its 75th year of independence, India has a huge infrastructure system. India has easy access to all three places – water, land and sky. If there is a steady increase in FDI coming from abroad in India, then one of the major reasons for this is that today India has the best infrastructural system.