South Asia

Press fumes at India's power failure

A shop owner during a power cut in Calcutta, India
Image caption The power cuts affected more than 600 million people in India, like here in Calcutta

India's mainstream press was unanimously scathing in its criticism of the power outages which caused major disruption to much of the country over the past two days. Several papers expressed concern at how the blackout had affected India's image as an emerging superpower.

Commentators were also displeased at the timing of a cabinet reshuffle which saw Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde moved to the ministry of home affairs on the second day of the outages.

A number of newspapers identified the overdrawing of power by three northern states - Uttar Pradesh (UP), Haryana and Punjab - as the probable reason for the outages.

Most papers agreed on the need for urgent reforms in the country's power sector.

The Times of India

The paper ran the headline: "Powerless and clueless". In an editorial it said: "Lack of power holds back India's industrial take-off, and prevents it from making the kind of strides in reducing poverty that China or East Asia have."

The Economic Times

The paper's main headline was: "Superpower India, RIP". In its editorial, it said India "cannot afford the power blackout witnessed on Monday and again on Tuesday… This simply must stop".

Hindi daily Dainik Jagran

"Not only is this a new example of incompetence, it is also an occasion for shame. The grid failures have provoked laughter at India around the world."

Hindi daily Amar Ujala

"If there was an Olympic competition for power blackouts, India would win gold."

Hindi-language Navbharat Times

"For a country that aspires to be an economic power, this incident is disgraceful."

Rashtriya Sahara

"What can we say of our country? When half the country was sunk in darkness due to a power failure and there was chaos all around, Power Minster Sushil Kumar Shinde was being promoted to the post of home minister… "

English-language daily The Indian Express

In its editorial, the paper said Uttar Pradesh was the "habitual offender" for taking more than its allocated share of power from the grid. "Without punitive measures in place, plans to set up a [higher-capacity] national grid… cannot be started on."

The Hindu

"State governments need to understand that they should either find the funds to invest in power generation, or make it worthwhile for the private sector to set up new plants that can feed into the grid in order to cope with rising demand."

Business standard

"The scale of the disruption was unprecedented. And coming as it did just a day after a similar collapse of the power grid for the northern region, with almost similar consequences, it underlined once again the depressing state of the country's power sector and its poor governance by regulators."

Hindi daily Hindustan

"What is most essential is that power should be treated as an industrial commodity. Only then can we end the atmosphere of wastage and mismanagement… but will this two-day crisis be able to compel the centre and states to implement the necessary reforms?"

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