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Editorial

No road to development

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By EMN Updated: Nov 15, 2014 9:38 pm
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[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he outstanding Roman road system and transportation network made possible Roman conquest and administration and later provided highways for the great migrations into the empire and a means for the diffusion of Christianity. This is what we learn when we delve back into history. In fact, as recorded by Greek historian Dionysius of Halicarnassus who flourished during the reign of Caesar Augustus – “The extraordinary greatness of the Roman Empire manifests itself above all in three things: the aqueducts, the paved roads, and the construction of the drains.”
The great Roman Empire is clearly not a role model for Nagaland as these are exactly three aspects – water supply, road and drainage – which don’t appear to ever be at the top of our priority list. Our roads particularly are always in the limelight for all the wrong reasons, but rather than improving it just keeps getting worse and, by the look of things, there does not seem to be any light at the end of the tunnel.One topic that is beloved by our politicians is development. We are constantly bombarded by sermons on development as our politicians enthusiastically dive into rhetoric every chance they get. Now the monkey wrench here is the correlation between development and good roads and connectivity.
To again go back to history, we learn that the Incas had an incredible system of roads. Referred to as an ‘all-weather highway system’, the over 14,000 miles of Inca roads were an astonishing and reliable precursor to the advent of the automobile. Communication and transport was efficient and speedy, linking the mountain peoples and lowland desert dwellers with Cuzco, the Inca heartland. They were built to last and to withstand the extreme natural forces of wind, floods, ice, and drought. This central nervous system of Inca transport and communication rivalled that of Rome and, in large part, it was how the Inca Dynasty was able to build itself into the largest pre-Columbian empire in the New World.
So, history has reminded us of the importance of good and reliable road and transportation systems for social and economic growth of a society. Reducing the distance between people, markets, services and knowledge is a great part of what social and economic growth is all about.
Given this fact, our chances at any quick or real development do not look very good, does it? About the quality of our existing roads, there’s nothing more that can be said that has not been said before. In fact, in some places, it is even embarrassing to call them roads and we’re not talking about the roads in the so-called remote areas but the bumpy, pot-holed ones right in the middle of our urban centres. Speaking about remote, the areas that had been remote to start with continue to remain remote even after fifty years of statehood. The discontent brewing in the ranks is no mystery. If connectivity had been given due priority in these past decades, the much talked about ‘backwardness’ of the various ‘remote’ areas would have been a thing of the past a long time ago. Good old common sense alone tells us that good and efficient connectivity can provide economic and social opportunities and benefits such as better accessibility to markets, employment and so on. Consequences of a deficiency in this regard are obvious – reduced or missed opportunities and poor quality of life.
Unless the most crucial component for development – roads and connectivity – is given the attention it deserves, there’s really no point in the development lectures that we’re constantly forced to listen to. It’s like putting the cart before the horse and amounts to only meaningless rhetoric.

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By EMN Updated: Nov 15, 2014 9:38:58 pm