In India, New Delhi’s Metro shut down and hundreds of coal miners were trapped underground after three Indian electric grids collapsed in a cascade on Tuesday, cutting power to 620 million people, half the population, in the world’s largest blackout. Hospitals, factories, and airports switched automatically to their diesel generators during the blackout that reached half of India. Some homes relied on backup systems powered by truck batteries, while hundreds of millions of India’s poorest had no electricity to lose.
The crisis heightened fears about India’s failure to invest in the infrastructure required to support its rapidly growing economy, in sharp contrast to neighboring China. The historic blackout also shattered any hope that the nation’s entrepreneurial spirit and vibrant private sector could somehow deliver a drastically brighter future without a dramatic improvement in the way the country is governed. “As one of the emerging economies of the world, which is home to almost a sixth of the world population, it is imperative that our basic infrastructure requirements are in keeping with India’s aspirations,” said Chandrajit Banerjee, director general of the Confederation of Indian Industry. “The developments of yesterday and today have created a huge dent in the country’s reputation that is most unfortunate.”