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Infrastructure Sector

Infrastructure Sector

 There is so much of buzz about the infrastructure sector in India. This buzz is attributed to a marvelous growth recently noticed in the infrastructure sector. Through this piece of article, we shall try to understand the Infrastructure sector in depth and understand why there is so much of buzz about the same in India.

In general the word infrastructure refers to both the physical structure and various services required by a society or nation to function. It provides a set of framework that is required by a society for its overall development. Typically infrastructure includes the roadways, water supply lines, electrical grids, telecommunications etc.
Although Infrastructure is considered as a very important input for the development of a nation, yet there is neither a specific definition of infrastructure in India nor well defined sectors that lie under it.  For the sake of formulation of policies, setting sectoral targets and monitoring various projects, it was felt that a clear understanding of what all sectors are covered under the term ‘infrastructure’ is necessary. To do this tactical job The National Statistical Commission headed by Dr. C. Rangarajan, attempted to identify infrastructure based on certain characteristics. In the initial stage Infrastructure Sector was divided into six different categories and later several changes were made and currently there are various sub classes of Infrastructure sector in India-
Transportation Infrastructure
Transportation Sector in India is a vital part of Infrastructure sector. Ever since independence a need for better transportation infrastructure was felt. But it is only after liberalization that this sector has witnessed a rapid growth. Today, there exists a large and diverse transportation in India which caters to the need of more than 1.1 billion people. 
This sector includes roadways, railways, aviation and ports. Indian Railways is fourth largest rail networks in the world catering more than 30 million passengers everyday. The total track length of Indian Railways is 114,500 km which covers a route of at least 65,000 km. 
Similarly the roadways network is one of the biggest roadways in the world carrying around 90% of the passengers in the entire country and aggregates more than 3,300,000 kilometers in which National Highways alone constitute for 66,590 km and state Highways constitute for 131,899 km. 
India possesses one of the biggest peninsulas in the world. There exist 13 major ports and more than 187 minor ports. There exist a total of 449 airports throughout India. Privatization of Aviation Sector created this boom. In the year 2010-2011 the aviation sector catered to the needs of 143.3 million passengers.
The Airport Council International has ranked Rajiv Gandhi Airport as number one among 49 airports around the world that handle around 5-15 million passengers per annum. Indira Gandhi International Airport has been ranked 4th among 19 airports in another category. 
Ports and aviation sectors are far behind Roadways and Railways. Despite the high demand these two sectors did not see much of development for several years. But over a past few years the aviation sector grew rapidly. The aviation sector is dominant only in metropolitan cities.
Energy Infrastructure
The Energy Infrastructure includes the electrical power networks including the power generation plants, electricity grids, substations etc. It also includes Natural gas & Petroleum pipelines and its distribution network.  
Energy need has always been increasing in India without any exceptional period. Especially in Past few years, it has increased exponentially. Yet, even today, the average energy consumption in India remains the lowest in the world with merely 630 kWh per head.
Total energy produced in India is currently 1, 70, 229 MW. The share of thermal power is 64.75%, Nuclear Power is 2.78% and Hydro power is 21.73% and of other renewable sources is 10.73%.  In 2010 peak power shortage was of 12%. The electricity demand is expected to grow by 7.4% per annum, which indeed, is a sense of concern.
Nevertheless the government has also understood the gravity of the scenario and it has been planning to increase the power generation in every 5 year plan. The Ministry of Power is currently focusing on its agenda- “Power to all” which must be completed by 2012. 
India has more than 20 nuclear reactors in 6 nuclear power plants. They generate 4,780 MW power. There are seven more reactors under construction. Bu these Nuclear Reactors have attracted many protestors who are afraid of any possible threat to mankind. One such Nuclear Power Plant is Kudankulam Power Station in Tamil Nadu and another one is Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project.  
Catering the high demand the energy sector has also been growing at a fast rate. But it is a matter of fact that despite huge amount of power generation the power so generated has never been surplus. Nuclear Power Plants have been empowering the Energy infrastructure in past few years which has also made quite significant buzz in the nation.
Water Management Infrastructure
Water Management Infrastructure includes both Water Supply and Sanitation in India. The core infrastructural part includes pipe networks, pumps, storage reservoirs, water treatments plants, sewage, and drainage system. 
Despite various measures taken up by the government the water supply and sanitation system is still inadequate to cater the need of all. The level of investment in this sector has been low as compared to other sector. This is one of the major reasons for fractured water Management System in India.
No major city in India has a continuous water supply and the condition is so abject that 72% of Indian population even today lack access to improved sanitation facilities. The figures are mind boggling but that is the appealing reality. 
Communication Infrastructure
The Communication Infrastructure of India is very much diversified which connects people through internet, television, radio, telegraph and telephone. Due to its large population India has world’s second largest telephone users aggregating around 914.59 million, 881.40 million mobile phone users and world’s fourth largest internet users accounting for 112 million users. Indian telecom Industry is considered as world’s fastest growing industry. 
Due to the advancement of Information age the use of telegraph has reduced significantly and hence this particular sector doesn’t require much of funding. On the other side the IT sector is developing at a very fast rate and is also giving favorable results. 
Earth Monitoring and Measurement Networks Infrastructure
Earth Monitoring and Measurement Networks Infrastructure includes, Meteorological monitoring networks, Tidal monitoring networks, Earth observation satellites and related infrastructure.
This infrastructure helps in predicting climate changes, Space Research, Positioning (through GPS) and many more ways. It is a vital part of a countries development in infrastructure. Although India lie far behind the other developed countries in this sector ye its achievement so far has been exceptional. India has achieved certain milestones in few decades which many other countries could not. Every year a huge sum of capital is spent on this sector.
Governance Infrastructure
Governance Infrastructure refers to the system of government including legislative, political, judicial system. This sector also includes various emergency services such as police, ambulances, and buildings for the same. Military infrastructure also falls under this category which includes military bases, arms depot, command centers etc.
With the advancement of the information era the e-governance is emerging gradually as a very efficient and effective way of governance. This will lead to lesser investment in this infrastructure sector in the years to come.
Economic Infrastructure
As the name suggests, this sectors has a lion’s share in the country’s GDP and it directly affects the economic development of the country. This sector includes different financial systems like banking system, payment systems, money supply, financial regulations etc. Various logistical supports for the functioning of businesses; such as manufacturing infrastructure, warehouses, industrial parks, Special Economic Zones etc. also fall under this category.
Agricultural, fisheries and forestry infrastructures are vital part of economic infrastructure and this includes feedlots, agricultural research centers, experimental farms and many other infrastructures supporting the same. 
Social Infrastructure
This infrastructure sector includes various health care systems such as hospitals, dispensaries, laboratories for medication testing and institutes for training the doctors. Apart from health care infrastructure, various educational infrastructures including schools & universities, and several other structures for social use rest under this category. 
Cultural, Sports and recreational Infrastructure
Cultural infrastructure consists of various museums, concert halls, theaters etc. Tourism infrastructure such as hotels, restaurants and other services catering the tourism industry are also included in this category. Sports infrastructure such as parks, stadiums, training camps for potential sportsmen, and other similar recreational infrastructure also fall under this category. This sector grew at a very fast rate in past few years mainly due to the Commonwealth games in India.
Currently, the core sector was a media staple of news when it recorded a mind blowing growth increase of 6.8% against earlier figure of 3.7%. Earlier in the month of October the core sector was observed to have a growth rate of merely 0.3%.     
The infrastructure sector of a country is of great importance as it directly affects the economic development of that nation. The investment in infrastructure sector is done very tactfully. The infrastructure growth depends on various socio-cultural and economic aspects of a region. Generally, in developing nations, the infrastructural development is mainly focused on power sector, roadways, and railways which indirectly show growth in economic development. However, in developing nations like India, the infrastructure growth is focused on several aspects according to the demand. 
However, infrastructure development yields indirect economical benefits in both the developing and developed nations. At the same time the social benefits due to the development in social infrastructure sector can’t be overseen. 
Compared to the significant growth in the infrastructure sector the Indian population has grown at a much faster rate. Despite huge spending on the infrastructure sector, the demand of the public is yet to be met. Although the fact can’t be denied that the infrastructure sector is growing, government has formulated ambitious plans, the private sector participation through PPP is also being encouraged, yet there is lot more to do.
For such topics of Basic understanding on the subject matter which will keep you motivated to crack  GD & PI at CAT 2011, NMAT, XAT, SNAP  and forthcoming  exams Feb.MAT2012, ATMA, MHCET 2012, CMAT 2012 along with various other state specific MBA entrance tests. This would also be useful for WAT, Extempore speaking, Essays. 
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