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Restart summary

Mihir Sharma

The Last Chance for the Indian Economy

17 mins
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    India’s insufficient infrastructure stems from cultural beliefs and severely impacts the country’s manufacturing.

    You might think the stories about Indian traffic jams that run over a mile long are just exaggerated rumors. When you step out of the Delhi airport and see it for yourself, however, you’ll feel differently.

    These terrible traffic jams exist in spite of the newly built Rao Tula Ram Road flyover, a single lane bridge intended to absorb some of the traffic on the main road in Delhi. But it’s simply not big enough to accommodate the city’s traffic load. And the crazy thing is that, even before it was built, city planners knew it wouldn’t be big enough!

    So why did they go forward with the construction? Well, in Indian culture, anything more complex or bigger than the bare minimum is considered a waste of money and resources. Indians are accustomed to living with shortages and delays, and people generally look down on anything they feel is excessive or superfluous.

    This viewpoint is largely rooted in the socialist mindset promoted by Gandhi, who always rode in third-class train carriages. But it’s had serious repercussions for the country.

    India’s insufficient infrastructure, for instance, makes it difficult for manufacturers to send out customer orders on time. Indian trucks only spend about 40 percent of their time on the road actually driving; the other 60 percent is spent waiting in the long queues for the various tax checkpoints.

    Time is money, and this waste of time costs a lot for manufacturers. In fact, the cheapest way to send something from Bangalore, India, to Hyderabad, India, is to first send it to Europe, and, from there, back to Hyderabad! The traffic jams don’t just create stress and waste time for people going to work – they hurt the country’s economy, too.

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    What is Restart about?

    A few decades ago, India seemed poised to become a major player in the global economy. Today, a number of serious problems hold the country back. Restart (2015) explains what caused India’s decline and offers insights about what could be done to fix it.

    Best quote from Restart

    Its the Indian way, …: if you have created excess capacity in anything... then you have wantonly wasted money.

    —Mihir Sharma
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    Who should read Restart?

    • Students of economics, political science and sociology
    • Anyone interested in India

    About the Author

    Mihir Sharma is a Harvard-educated economist who started his career as a journalist for the Indian Express. He serves as the Opinion Editor for the Indian broadsheet Business Standard.

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