India in its past did not allocate enough resources to build or maintain its road network. This has changed since 1995, with major efforts currently underway to modernize the country's road infrastructure. The length of national highways in India has increased from 70,934 km in 2010-11 to 101,011 in 2015-16.
As of May 2017, India had completed and placed in use over 28,900 kilometres of recently built 4 or 6-lane highways connecting many of its major manufacturing centres, commercial and cultural centres. According to Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, as of March 2016, India had about 1,01,011 kilometers of national highways and expressways, plus another 1,76,166 kilometers of state highways. Major projects are being implemented under the National Highways Development Project, a government initiative. Private builders and highway operators are also implementing major projects - for example, the Yamuna Expressway between Delhi and Agra was completed ahead of schedule and within budget, while the KMP Expressway started in 2006 is far behind schedule, over budget and incomplete.
According to 2009 estimates by Goldman Sachs, India will need to invest US$1.7 trillion on infrastructure projects before 2020 to meet its economic needs, a part of which would be in upgrading India's road network. The investment in national highways increased from ₹14,095.87 crore (US$2.2 billion) in 2005-06 to ₹98,988.06 crore (US$15 billion) in 2015-16 During the same period the total investment in national highways was ₹476,589.37 crore (US$73 billion). The Government of India is attempting to promote foreign investment in road projects. Foreign participation in Indian road network construction has attracted 45 international contractors and 40 design/engineering consultants, with Malaysia, South Korea, United Kingdom and United States being the largest players.
The first evidence of road development in the Indian subcontinent can be traced back to approximately 2800 BC from the ancient cities of Harrapa and Mohenjodaro of the Indus Valley Civilization. Ruling emperors and monarchs of ancient India had constructed roads to connect the cities. Archaeological excavations give us fresh information about road connectivity in ancient India. The Grand Trunk Road was built by Sher Shah Suri in 1540-45 connecting Sonargaon near Dhaka in Bangladesh with Peshawar in modern-day Pakistan linking several cities from in India.
In the 1830's the East India Company started a programme of metalled road construction, for both commercial and administrative purposes. The Grand trunk road, from Calcutta, through Delhi to Peshawar was rebuilt at a cost of £1000 / mile, roads from Bombay to Pune Camp, Bombay to Agra, and Bombay to Madras, were constructed, and a Public Works Department, and the Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee founded, to train and employ local surveyors, engineers, and overseers, to perform the work, and maintain the roads. The programme resulted in an estimated 2,500 km (1,600 miles) of metalled roads being constructed by the 1850s