India's Massive Power Outage

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Late yesterday, most of India had its power back. But for much of Monday and Tuesday most of the northern half of the world's second largest country had been brought to a standstill. If you take the population of the U.S., add Mexico, and throw in Canada, you'd still need to find another 200 million people to come up to the number of Indians who have been without power this week. Today we look at the impact of the blackouts and what they say about the gap between Indian economic growth and the country's current infrastructure.


Today's guest host was Jim Brown.

Part One of The Current

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It's Wednesday, August 1st.

A power blackout in India left an estimated 700 million people without transit, lights, television or internet.

Gee, that's rough, say the millions of other Indians still waiting to get hooked into the grid.

This is The Current.

India's Massive Power Outage - New Delhi Reporter

The pumps stopped in the coal mines, the trains stopped far from stations, the electric crematoria stopped burning the dead and Indians themselves stopped to consider what a blackout of this magnitude says about their aspirations.

India's economic miracle has lifted millions out of poverty and nurtured a dynamic and growing middle class. But some say the blackouts expose an uncomfortable reality: financial success is not matched by the necessary infrastructure and institutional reforms.

Rohit Gandhi is a freelance reporter in New Delhi and that's where we reached him.

India's Massive Power Outage - Professor of Contemporary Literature

Powerful economies need energy, but they also need well-run institutions, respect for the rule of law and predictability. Our next guest believes the power outage is a symptom of larger problems faced by India. Amit Chaudhuri is an internationally-recognized author and a professor of contemporary literature at the University of East Anglia. He joined us on the phone from Calcutta.

India's Massive Power Outage - Professor of Political Science

Our next guest believes the blackouts point to another problem India must solve quickly. Most of India's electricity comes from coal. Ananya Mukherjee thinks the country needs a more sustainable and equitable energy strategy. She is a professor and chair of political science at York University and she joined us in our Toronto studio.

This segment was produced by The Current's Josh Bloch, Andrea Cardillo and Tendisai Cromwell.


Other segment from today's show:

After the Storm - Documentary Repeat

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