The Diplomat: How Darkness Sheds Light: India’s Democratic Dysfunction
Truman Fellow Manik V. Suri in The Diplomat on the Implications of India’s Power Failure:
India’s recent power problems highlight a lack of infrastructure development, failed political leadership, and an unwillingness to act.
India is a nation of superlatives. So it should seem unsurprising that its massive power failure earlier this week was the largest in history, affecting more than 650 million Indians – nearly 10 percent of humanity. Coming on the heels of a huge grid failure the previous day, Tuesday’s blackout brought large swaths of northern and eastern India grinding to a halt: trains stalled, subways shut down, shopkeepers shuttered businesses, and hospitals postponed surgeries. Power was restored in a matter of hours, but the blackout offered a sobering reminder that for a third of Indians who live each day without electricity, darkness is a part of life.
As photographs depicting Indians huddled around candlelight spread worldwide, the blackout has ironically cast a bright light on the nation’s deep-seated structural problems – particularly severe shortages of public goods like infrastructure, education, and health – that continue to leave millions behind. Reformers should seize this moment, for the power outage provides an opportunity to spur India’s weak national government into action. The country’s political leaders must heed this warning, or they will remain its greatest obstacle to growth.
The views expressed in this opinion piece are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Truman National Security Project or Educational Institute.