India PM: Use Covid-19 crisis to fix our roads & infrastructure

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While the crisis is far from over, many have heaped praises on you that you have led India through this crisis with rare pro-activeness, toughness and public empathy. I tend to agree with them. 

I realize many who want to sign this petition may not agree with the above assessment. Maybe it is too early to judge the results. Maybe more could have been done. I won't argue with those critics, if they choose to say so.

Personally I feel, the most impressive and least debatable achievement than all of the above listed is the delicate balancing act our central government has demonstrated with state CMs and governments to orchestrate a national policy action at the local level across our country. 

Now we ask for another BIG bold move from you - which can only be driven at a national level and executed at the local level.

Utilize all these temporarily empty city roads and blocked inter-city highways to fast track fixing of our roads, expanding our highways and completing various transport initiatives underway like intra-city Metro Rail projects.

(I'd like to plug in a call out for my city of Bengaluru - for the special state of our roads!!)

Request you to announce a massive nationwide and state level infrastructure building program to be executed over the next 12-18 months, with a huge initial momentum - capitalizing on the next 3 months of semi lock down status. 

We will never see another time in our lives when roads will be so empty, in the summer season and so many people willing to earn a living through construction jobs. 

#1. A window of opportunity, in this moment of crisis

Great leaders have often used a crisis to lay the seeds for long term transformation. President Roosevelt created a massive initiative to build the national highway system in the US at the height of the great depression, creating millions of jobs and spurring economic recovery. Some of the greatest companies of our times like GE, Toyota Motors and Disney invested and started during times of tremendous economic slow down.  

#2. The poor are hit disproportionately. We need to help them by creating opportunities to earn a living and regain their pride

The current Covid-19 lock down has created tremendous pain to everyone across the world. Yet, at the end of all this our middle class and above will be alright. Like all economic problems, the poor and weak will get impacted disproportionately through this crisis - daily wagers, construction workers, street hawkers and the homeless are the hardest hit. This massive investment in roads and Metro projects can be the perfect income generator for all the underprivileged.  

#3. An investment opportunity

I am sure there are many wise public policy makers in our Government who can craft interesting instruments such as Infrastructure Bonds and other investment incentives to create benefits for investors as well as large businesses.

#4. An economic problem, as much as a human issue

Bad roads cost our country severely. Even when viewed solely from an economic POV. Traffic congestion in top 4 cities (Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Kolkatta) costs Rs. 1.5 Lakh Crores ($22 BN) per year [Source: BCG Study, 2018]. India’s GDP takes a 3% hit every year due to road accidents, equivalent to over $58 BN in value terms [UN Study, 2016]. 

Hope you act on this petition to enable India to not just survive, but thrive from this crisis.