• Infrastructure provides supporting services in main areas of industrial and agricultural production, domestic & foreign trade and commerce.
• Infrastructure development is crucial for social development of a country. Since economic reforms of 1991 in India, infrastructure development has been accorded a high priority by government.
• These services include roads, railways, ports, airports, dams, power stations, oil & gas pipelines, telecommunication facilities, country’s educational system including schools and colleges, a health system including hospitals, a sanitary system including clean drinking water facilities and monetary system including banks, insurance & other financial institutions.
• Some divide infrastructure into two categories — economic and social.
• Infrastructure associated with energy, transportation and communication are included in economic category whereas those related to education, health & housing are included in social.
• Infrastructure is support system on which depends efficient working of a modern industrial economy.
• Infrastructure contributes to economic development of a country both by increasing productivity of its factors of production and by improving quality of life of its people.
• Infrastructure can be defined as a kind of structure that is built to provide services in economy.
• Inadequate infrastructure can have multiple adverse effects on health.
State of Infrastructure in India
• Traditionally, government has been solely responsible for developing country’s infrastructure. But it was found that government’s investment in infrastructure was inadequate.
• Today, private sector by itself and in joint partnership with public sector has started playing a very important role in infrastructure development.
• India invests only 30% of its GDP on infrastructure, which is far below than that of China and Indonesia.
• Some economists have projected that India will become third biggest economy in world a few decades from now. For that to happen, India will have to boost its infrastructure investment.
• In any country, as income rises, composition of infrastructure requirements changes significantly.
• For low-income countries, basic infrastructure services, like irrigation, transport & power, are more important.
• As economies mature and most of their basic consumption demands are met, share of agriculture in economy shrinks and more servicerelated infrastructure is required. It is why share of power and telecommunications infrastructure is greater in high-income countries.
• If proper attention is not paid to development of infrastructure, it is likely to act as a severe constraint on economic development.
• Energy is an important part of growing economy and making life better. Because of this, power development has been put at top of our plans for growth. This is important for businesses. Now, it is used a lot in agriculture and other related fields, like making and moving fertilisers, pesticides, and farm tools. This is needed for cooking, lighting, and heating in homes.
• There are two principal categories of sources of energy : Conventional and Non-Conventional Sources.
• Conventional Sources of energy should be classified among two categories-Commercial and NonCommercial Sources of energy.
• Commercial sources are coal, petroleum & electricity as they are bought and sold.
• Non-commercial sources of energy are fuelwood, agricultural waste and dried dung. These are noncommercial as they are not available in market on a large scale.
• While commercial sources of energy are usually exhaustible [except hydropower], non-commercial sources or traditional sources are usually renewable.
• More than 60% of Indian households depend on traditional sources of energy for meeting their regular cooking and heating needs.
Non-conventional Sources of Energy
• Non – Conventional Sources of energy are basically renewable resources of energy. government has accorded a high priority to promotion and utilisation of renewable resources of energy. During past quarter century, a significant effort has been made for development of renewable energy technologies.
• Both commercial and non-commercial sources of energy are called conventional sources of energy.
• There are three other sources of energy that are commonly termed as non-conventional sources — solar energy, wind energy and tidal power.
• Being a tropical country, India has almost unlimited potential for producing all three types of energy if some appropriate and cost-effective technologies are used. Even cheaper technologies can be developed.
Consumption Pattern of Commercial Energy
• In India, commercial energy consumption makes up about 74% of total energy consumed in India. This includes coal and lignite with largest share of 74%, followed by oil at 10%, natural gas at 9%, hydro & other new and renewable energy at 7%.
• Non-commercial energy sources consisting of firewood, cow dung & agricultural wastes account for over 26% of total energy consumption.
• share of oil and gas is highest among all commercial energy consumption. With rapid rate of economic growth, there has been a corresponding increase in use of energy.
• most visible form of energy, which is often identified with progress in modern civilisation, is power commonly known as electricity. This is a critical component of infrastructure that determines economic development of a country.
• growth rate of power demand is usually higher than GDP growth rate.
• Studies point out that to have 8% GDP growth per annum, power supply needs to grow around 12% annually.
• India’s energy policy encourages three energy sources — solar, hydel, & wind — as they do not rely on fossil fuels and, hence, avoid carbon emissions. Yet, this has not resulted in faster growth of electricity produced from these sources.
• Atomic energy is an important source of electric power, it has economic advantages. At present, nuclear energy accounts for only 2.5% of total energy consumption, against a global average of 13%. It is far too low.
• Health is not only absence of disease but ability to realise one’s potential. This is a yardstick of one’s well-being. Health is holistic process related to overall growth and development of nation.
• Generally, scholars assess people’s health by considering indicators, like infant mortality and maternal mortality rates, life expectancy and nutrition levels, and incidence of communicable and noncommunicable diseases.
• In recent times, scholars argue that people are entitled to health care facilities. This is responsibility of government to ensure right to healthy living.
• Health infrastructure includes hospitals, doctors, nurses & other paramedical professionals, beds, equipment required in hospitals and a welldeveloped pharmaceutical industry.
State of Health Infrastructure
• government has constitutional obligation to guide and regulate all health-related issues, such as medical education, adulteration of food, drugs & poisons, medical profession, vital statistics, mental deficiency and lunacy.
• Union Government evolves broad policies and plans through Central Council of Health and Family Welfare. It collects information and renders financial and technical assistance to State governments, Union Territories and other bodies for implementation of important health programmes in country.
• At village level, a variety of hospitals, technically called Primary Health Centres [PHCs] have been set up by government.
• India has a large number of hospitals run by voluntary agencies and private sector. These hospitals engage professionals and para-medical professionals trained in medical, pharmacy & nursing colleges.
• expansion of health infrastructure has resulted in eradication of smallpox, guinea worms and near eradication of polio and leprosy.
• Global Burden of Diseases [GBD] is an indicator used by experts to gauge number of people dying prematurely due to a particular disease, as well as, number of years spent by them in a state of ‘disability’ owing to disease.
Indian Systems of Medicine [ISM]
• It includes six systems—Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha, Naturopathy and Homeopathy [AYUSH].
• At present, there are 4,095 AYUSH hospitals and 27,951 dispensaries and as many as 8 lakh registered practitioners in India.
• But little has been done to set up a framework to standardise education or to promote research.
• ISMs have huge potential and can solve a large part of our healthcare problems because they are effective, safe & inexpensive.
Private Sector Health Infrastructure
• A study reports that more than 70% of hospitals in India are run by private sector. They control nearly two-fifth of beds available in hospitals. Nearly 60% of dispensaries are run by same private sector. They provide healthcare for 80% of out-patients and 46% of inpatients.
• In recent years, private sector has been leader in medical education and training, medical technology and diagnostics, making and selling drugs, building hospitals, and giving medical services. Scholars say that India’s private sector has grown on its own, without much regulation. Some private practitioners aren’t even registered doctors, so they’re called “quacks.”
• Since 1990s, owing to liberalisation measures, many non-resident Indians and industrial and pharmaceutical companies have set up state-of-theart super-speciality hospitals to attract India’s rich and medical tourists.
Urban-Rural and Poor-Rich Divide
• Though 70% of India’s population lives in rural areas, only one-fifth of its hospitals [including private hospitals] are located in rural areas. Rural India has only about half number of dispensaries.
• Thus, people living in rural areas do not have sufficient medical infrastructure. This has led to differences in health status of people.
• PHCs located in rural areas do not even offer X-ray or blood testing facilities, which for a city dweller, constitutes basic healthcare.
• Villagers have no access to any specialised medical care, like paediatrics, gynaecology, anaesthesia and obstetrics.
• Health is a vital public good and a basic human right. All citizens can get better health facilities if public health services are decentralised. Success in longterm battle against diseases depends on education and efficient health infrastructure. It is, therefore, critical to create awareness of health and hygiene and provide efficient systems.