Niti Aayog Vice-Chairman Arvind Panagariya on Tuesday complimented the Delhi Metro for its ‘incredible feat’ in laying an efficient urban transportation network in the city and said it was one of the key factors that helped ‘break his pessimism’ about India's future.
The economist, drawing parallel with New York City, said, "Delhi comes to a halt when the DMRC stops just like the NYC which also halts when the Subway (NYC metro) stops.
"The DMRC's journey is astonishing. And, in these decades, it has grown from 0 km to 213 km. It's an incredible feat.
“It is like an island of excellence, sort of a developed country island within a developing country.
"And, gives one a great hope," he said, addressing a gathering to mark the 22nd Foundation Day of Delhi Metro Rail Corporation at Metro Bhawan in New Delhi.
The DMRC network began its journey in the late 1990s and ever since it has been tunelling ahead into the future connecting Delhi with the National Capital Region and has also offered consultancy for building metro networks in several other cities.
"A country that I have most closely analysed is India, pretty much post-independence development process of the country. And, often you get very pessimistic during this journey.
“From 1980s I used to very pessimistic. . .will India be able to do what some of the developing countries like South Korea, Taiwan or China have," he said.
Panagariya said the liberalisation policy of then Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao in 1991 that opened up the economy was his point of transition from being pessimistic to being optimistic about India.
"One was sort of worried. . .kind of this licence permit raj. . . and, it takes somebody to break that pessimism and then came along PM Narasimha Rao and in one stroke in 1991, the entire import-export license raj ended and opened the economy to foreign investment," he said.
After that ‘I had another phase of pessimism’ about the road infrastructure and that was broken by the ‘Golden Quadrilateral project’ of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, he said.
"And, the third one (pessimism) was about inter-city and intra-city transportation. . . We are building large cities. . .with FSI rules. . .And, not everyone can live in the city, but because of work they need to travel.
"And, that is when DMRC broke my pessimism," Panagariya, author of India: The Emerging Giant, said.
"Later speaking to reporters after the function, the NITI Aayog Vice Chairman said, "The Delhi Metro has a wide network but we still need to expand the last mile connectivity at least in the inner city areas."
"DMRC Managing Director Mangu Singh, Additional Secretary, Urban Development Ministry D P Mishra and Delhi Chief Secretary K K Sharma were also present at the function.