It was as a newspaper-office intern in New Delhi in 1992 that I witnessed the birth of India’s homegrown belt-and-road initiative. The program was midwifed by an up-and-coming lender that few had then heard of: Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services Ltd.
It wasn’t called belt-and-road, a term that would gain currency much later as a catchphrase for China’s opaquely financed global infrastructure ambitions. There’s a lot of scrutiny now of those energy and transportation projects, and a growing discomfort that Beijing may be ensnaring developing countries in a debt trap. So it’s remarkable that India — itself a vocal critic of belt-and-road — allowed a local financier to do something similar on home turf, with little accountability or supervision.