There was more to the Golden Quadrilateral project than pump priming. It was also testimony to Vajpayee’s vision. He later also backed an ambitious project to link India’s major rivers, though with less success.

The highways project was a perfect example of what has sometimes been termed national greatness conservatism: “Great projects designed to physically and spiritually unify the nation,” as New York Times columnist David Brooks once described it. It is also in tune with the grand nation building projects in the Nehru era, or what were famously described as the temples of a new India. The US had its own flurry of highway building after the end of World War II. The current Chinese attempt to build high-speed railways is a contemporary example. Read More