October 12, 2009, Jaipur

“The Indian reform model, because of its calibrated nature and encouragement of interconnectedness with the rest of the world without dependence, is the only model in which no bubble has burst. The challenge before Indians is to harness the highest growth rate in free market democracies to achieve greater inclusiveness and alleviate food insecurity and poverty. Infrastructure constitutes a key link in facilitating sustainable growth and harnessing it for our policy objectives.”

These were the words of Kamal Nath, Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways, on the occasion of the 1st CUTS Silver Jubilee Lecture at the Nehru Bhawan of H.C.M Rajasthan State Institute of Public Administration. Mr Nath started by lauding the role of CUTS as an intellectual repository on policy issues. CUTS International — a civil society organisation which has just completed 25 years — works on trade, governance and regulatory issues from the Southern perspective. Headquartered in Jaipur, it has offices all over the developing world and some even in the developed world.

Mr Nath went on to say that the next decade in India will be the Decade of Infrastructure. Within infrastructure, the road sector, already immense in scope and spread and marked by ability to touch all sections of the Indian society and economy, is crucial for realising the objective of inclusive growth, he said. He added that the government has set itself a task of building 7000 kms of new roads every year, which requires that there should be work in progress of around 20,000 kms at any point of time.

Mr. Kamal Nath was welcomed by the CUTS founder and Secretary General, Pradeep S. Mehta who outlined the rise of CUTS from a humble consumer oriented NGO to an international civil society organisation linking the grassroots to international policy making platforms. He also highlighted work done by CUTS International on regulation issues in the Indian infrastructure sector, especially the role of regulation in promoting growth and equity.

The meeting was marked by knowledgeable comments by the programme chair, V.S. Vyas, a member of the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council, who lauded Kamal Nath’s contribution to progress in WTO issues. Other highlights of the afternoon were speeches by Mahadev Khandela, Union Minister of State, Road Transport and Highways and Rajasthan’s Transport Minister, Brijkishore Sharma, which focussed on the achievements of the Indian economy/government in maintaining rapid economic growth during the recent financial recession and facilitating road building and grassroots oriented infrastructure development.

For more information, please contact
Siddhartha Mitra, CUTS International, 09783398920, Email: sm2@cuts.org