India’s infrastructure needs

Some thoughts inspired by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s tour of India (15-17 December):

India’s economic momentum is impressive …. But it is achieving this development in spite of its infrastructure, not because of it. Road traffic is slowed by single lanes and uneven surfaces. Ships take almost 96 hours to unload and load at Indian ports, about 10 times longer than in Hong Kong. And 18 per cent of India’s urban population defecates daily in open spaces, compared with 6 per cent in China. [emphasis added]

Unlike China, of course, India is burdened by democratic government, a respect for private land rights, and a very zealous Environment Ministry, which means that the state cannot simply bulldoze settlements or drain wetlands to make way for power plants.

Lex, “India”, Financial Times, 30 December 2010.

The ‘Lex’ business and finance column is published daily in the Financial Times. It is written anonymously by a team of eleven FT journalists: six based in London, four in New York and one in Hong Kong.

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