Rahul Gandhi allegedly made this statement. It is sad that an armchair, untrained economist like me understands the significance of roads while someone who is poised to lead India does not. Check out this vice documentary on truckers in West Africa to get the connection between roads and economy. Jim Rogers, the author of the excellent book Investment Biker, also alludes to how Africa is rendered destitute due to adverse road connectivity. In spite of so much evidence suggesting road connectivity being essential for a vibrant and healthy economy, Rahul Gandhi makes this foolish statement, and our so-called independent media is busy discussing his dimples and charm working up pubescent teenage girls.
A road is something that transcends caste, religious, and socioeconomic boundaries. A road does not discriminate between a rich man driving his BMW or a poor milk seller on his bicycle, a pandit riding his Luna or a moulvi plying his scooter. I do not for a second doubt the ingenuity of our so-called secular politicians to come up with a statement on the lines of Minorities have the first right to our roads; but until that happens, for all purposes, we can take rest in the fact that a road is a great unifier of all sections of the society.
How do roads benefit the poor?
Connectivity makes transportation efficient, thus reducing the cost; this is an indirect benefit for all. Let us take a specific case of how roads will make the life of an impoverished auto-rickshaw driver better. If an auto driver plies on potholed roads all day long, it takes a toll on his auto; this will directly reflect in the efficiency of the auto as well as the money he has to spend on maintenance, not to mention the lost opportunity to make money by ferrying more customers due to the reduced travel time. All in all, an auto driver has to gain a lot with smooth roads. Instead of working on these, our government is hell-bent on extending the economic black hole of NREGA to urban poor, and our media is a silent spectator to this theater of absurd.