Let's hope a newly elected government has the coherence and leadership to begin to deal right away with the mess in infrastructure, learning from what has gone wrong before. There are problems galore with our infrastructure, but a couple of examples stand out for what to look out for and avoid in future initiatives. There's little doubt that we must improve our approach to projects and undertakings in terms of functionality and efficiency, and that digital infrastructure is a key requirement.
While this article is on prioritising digital infrastructure, let us not underestimate the problems of deficient infrastructure. For sustained high growth, equally critical needs relating to power and logistics, with its interdependent linkages between transportation - by road, rail, air and water, and the associated holding/staging areas of terminals, airports and ports - need to be addressed with organisation and capital for capacity and de-bottlenecking.
One example is the multiplicity of schemes to register individuals, including the Unique Identification (UID) orAadhaar scheme, the National Population Register (NPR), the multipurpose national identity card, the voter identification card, and so on.1 Another example is the National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) by Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL). Accepting for the moment that these projects are well intentioned, there seem to be flaws right from the design stage, and on through execution. While the fallout from past errors has to be dealt with, it's most important to avoid these mistakes in fresh initiatives.
Shyam no-space Ponappa at gmail dot com
(1) An explanation of Aadhaar and NPR: http://egov.eletsonline.com/2012/04/there-is-actually-no-conflict-between-uid-and-npr/
(2) A discussion on systems aspects such as authentication and data security: "Do we need the Aadhaar scheme?", February 1, 2012, Business Standard (http://goo.gl/j3P5vf)
(3) "Reality check on the broadband dream", April 27, 2014, Business Standard(http://goo.gl/C9h4im)
(4) "Creating viable business models for inclusive growth through the National Optical Fibre Network": http://www.kpmg.com/IN/en/IssuesAndInsights/ArticlesPublications/Documents/KPMG_CII_Broadband_Report_Final.pdf