India to invest $1.5 trillion in infrastructure boost to sagging economy

Photo: Indian prime minister Modi addressing the nation on Independence Day.

By Amit Agnihotri

New Delhi: To provide a booster shot to its pandemic-hit economy, India will invest over Rs 110 lakh crore (Rs 110 trillion/$1.5 trillion) in the National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP) comprising more than 7,000 projects across sectors.

Among the major focus areas are the construction of a four-lane road across India’s entire coastline, development of the Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor, connecting the eastern region with the gas pipe line, and developing new rail infrastructure and new ports.

“(The) NIP project will play a crucial role in pulling the country out of the impact of COVID-19. The project will revolutionise India’s infrastructure creation efforts. This will create new jobs for the youngsters, and benefit the farmers and the entrepreneurs,” India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi said from the ramparts of the historic Red Fort on the occasion of the country’s 74th Independence Day.

Noting that the South Asian nation is just a step away from the 75th anniversary of Independence, India’s prime minister said it is essential for the nation to become self-reliant, as the world has become interconnected and interdependent.

“We must make ourselves capable of contributing towards world welfare,” said Modi, as he highlighted that a nation rich in natural and human resources must strive to achieve new heights.

“How long shall we continue to export raw material to the world? How long will the process of exporting raw material and importing finished goods continue,” said Modi, while acknowledging that self-reliance is quite a distance away.

“I know that when I talk about becoming self-reliant then people raise several doubts. We should realise that for the millions of challenges we face, our nation has the capability to provide billions of solutions,” said Modi.

India’s prime minister noted that the world is closely watching the reforms being brought about by the South Asian country, which has resulted in a record 18 per cent increase in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) last year.

Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, top global companies are turning to India, and their confidence has grown because of the hard work put in by the South Asian nation in its policies, democracy, and strengthening the foundation of its economy.

“Today, many businesses of the world are viewing India as the hub of the supply chain. So now, we have to move ahead with the mantra of ‘Make for the World’ alongside ‘Make in India’,” said Modi.

In the same breath, India rues lack of coordination between the railways and the roadways, the airport and the port, the railway station and the bus station, saying the situation is not desirable, and calls for infrastructure development in a comprehensive and integrated manner.

Noting that the borders and the coastal infrastructure play a pivotal role in national security, Modi flagged focus on connectivity in every direction, be it the Himalayan peaks or the island territories in the Indian Ocean.

New roads are being constructed everywhere from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh keeping in mind national security, Modi said, though he did not directly refer to the ongoing border dispute with China in eastern Ladakh.

As he sought integrated development within the country, India’s prime minister urged the other South Asian leaders to work together for betterment of their people, and noted that neighbours are not the only ones with whom a nation shares geographical boundaries but also those with whom it has close and harmonious relations.

India noted that while it has close ties with the West Asian countries, members of the Association of South East Nations (ASEAN) are its maritime neighbours and hold special importance for the South Asian country, which has thousands of years of religious and cultural ties with them.

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