The Impact of Infrastructure on India’s Hill Stations

“Infrastructure is the backbone of economic growth. It improves access to basic services such as clean water and electricity, creates jobs and boosts business,” said Alok Sharma, a prominent political figure who was designated full-time president for COP 26, The 26th UN climate change conference. Infrastructure is imperative for the competent employment of finite resources. Well maintained infrastructure also reduces the price of a commodity or delivered goods and increases the mobility of products as well as people making it the backbone of economic development. However, over the past 70 years there has been a noticeable increase in detrimental infrastructural maintenance in India. To figure out when it got to this point, let’s take a glance at a frame of time when it was not an issue on the national level.

A quintessential example of exemplary infrastructural maintenance is the time when the British ruled over India. Their endeavor of establishing good infrastructure was admittedly not for the benefit of India’s economy (the motive was to serve the colonial interest), however there were undoubtedly numerous infrastructural advancements made when India was a colony. This includes the introduction of railways in the year of 1850, the immense progress of India’s water transport system that was made in 1947, and the development of telegraphs in India. 

Schools like Woodstock and Wynberg Allen in Mussoorie are prime examples of apt infrastructural development. Woodstock was founded in 1854, its earliest days coinciding with the time in which the East India company was active.The first staff of this school were appointed by the London Society membership organization. There is a striking contrast between financial hubs like Shimla and Mussoorie and remote settlements on the hills such as Sankri and Gwaldam, both of which are comparatively less active, economically speaking. I would like to further accentuate this observation from here on. The British had developed the majority of hill stations in India. The origins of hill stations can be traced back to the beginning of the 19th century, during the time in which medical treatments were established for European invalids in the subcontinent. The vast majority of these convalescent individuals were recovering from the heat as well as tropical diseases.

During the Gurkha war, which commenced in 1815 and ended in 1816, Shimla was founded. Similarly, the British were developing Mount Abu during the time frame of the Anglo-Maratha war. It is decided that hillstations in India would not have been the same without the immense progress made by the British. For the British Raj, hill stations were a pivotal aspect of colonial urban development. They fulfilled the facilitation of a defense for the frontiers, but in the grander scheme of things the climate of a hill station was optimal for the British, and hill stations were also economically favorable since they had an estate of tea and coffee in nearby areas and hence they had a large number of immigrant labor. These ambitions succeeded in fulfilling the needs of the British Army.

The British found great utility in small hamlets such as Darjeeling, further developed in the 19th century by the British Raj. The development of Darjeeling was accelerated when a railway route was established, in the year of 1881, and eventually became a well known UNESCO world heritage site in the year of 1999. This also exemplifies the incessant development of railroad service in India. Other than this the British strategically established a law in the year of 1850 that was based that permitted an Indian who had converted to Christianity to inherit the property of the individual’s ancestors in the year of 1850. During the establishment of the British Raj, there were numerous other missionary endeavors fulfilled by the empire, including founding Church-affiliated educational institutions such as the Christ Church College (of 1866) 

and St. Stephens College (of 1881). In India, there was immense progress made in the transport system during the colonial period. This is not only due to railway facilities but also crucial structures such as roads but also water and air transportation . These are all vital facilities and act as the backbone of transportation as a whole.  An instance of infrastructural disintegration is in Joshimath within Uttarakhand. The city is currently inoperable experiencing monumental floods, landslides, as well as earthquakes. One could argue that this is primarily due to its geographical location. But I would say the more significant factor is due to the construction of buildings on unstable land, due to which more than 603 houses had cracks. This is concrete evidence that shows that we are indeed going on the opposing trajectory of development. It goes to show the dangers of underdeveloped infrastructure, using the example of India. Hence it is imperative that we make a difference, which would show how good infrastructure is a representation of our contributions to the society as a nation, as well as the maintenance of a safe place on a national scale.

Paranjay is a staff reporter.

Edited by Asha. 

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