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Mechanical Transport in India

Nature volume 131, pages 578579 (22 April 1933) | Download Citation



DURING the last forty years, railways have been a great boon to India, but now their practical monopoly is being seriously challenged by vehicles propelled along roads by internal combustion engines. The paper read to the Indian Section of the Royal Society of Arts on March 10 by Col. F. P. Barnes on the development of mechanical transport is therefore a timely one. He computes that the number of motor vehicles in India is about 160,000 and is rapidly increasing. But this only gives 1 vehicle for every 2,000 inhabitants. This compares with 1 in 5 in the United States and 1 in 32 in Great Britain. There is thus plenty of room for development. Amongst the advantages of motor transport are that it employs a large number of people, it adds to the amenities of life and has a civilising effect. It now gives employment to about 200,000 people in India. Instead of using the tonga and bullock wagon, the business man uses a car and can cover a much larger area in a much shorter time. He can also send his family to the hills in comfort. The civilising effect is shown in Waziristan, where a great circular road has been constructed running through a country of tribesmen who, a few years ago, were formidable enemies of the British. The road was largely constructed by men who had fought against the British and some of them are now employed as policemen to patrol it. Many passengers now leave their rifles at home, showing that law and order is being established. Col. Barnes pointed out the great advantages that would accrue to the railways if the motor industry were developed so as to feed and not to compete with them. Mechanical transport in India has received little encouragement from the Government. It has been mainly regarded as a source of extra revenue and heavily taxed. Despite this, it has flourished and is now one of the principal industries in the country. There can be little doubt that if it is encouraged, there will be a great future in India for mechanical transport.

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