Local and regional parties are pushing for policies favorable to them, making it increasingly difficult to govern the world's largest democracy.
India has earned the dubious honor of having experienced the world's largest power blackout. On Tuesday, three of the country's power grids tripped leaving 20 states with a total population of 600 million without electricity for several hours. This followed a collapse of the northern grid on Monday that put out the lights in a few states, including the capital New Delhi, for a similar period of time.
Though there were cases of miners&and city commuters stranded under the ground and in trains, there were no reported casualties and the impact of the blackout was surprisingly minimal for many Indians.
One reason is that about 30 percent of the population already has no access to electricity. The other reason is that India has suffered from chronic power shortages for decades. Factories, hospitals, office building, apartment complexes and even individual houses have, over the years, installed spare generators to compensate for ubiquitous small powercuts. Estimates say India has four to five million such private, largely diesel-powered, backup generators.
Experts noted that India had experienced a similar blackout only 11 years ago. The latest one only highlighted that the many dysfunctionalities that affect India's power sector remain unsolved after so many years.
Some of the clear and present issues:
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- The Golden Eagles of Mongolia
- Revolutionary Photography in Bangladesh
- Oprah Goes to India
In many ways, the present power crisis is a metaphor for how local politics is eating away at the Singh government's ability to make rational policies at the central level. For example, the present grid crisis is being partially blamed on the largest state, Uttar Pradesh, overdrawing electricity from the northern grid. But Uttar Pradesh is ruled by a regional party that Singh needs in order to pass legislation. So though the outgoing power minister (he was transferred to another post even before Tuesday's crisis was fully resolved) promised penal action against UP, everyone knows that electoral politics will ensure that nothing more than a slap on the wrist will follow.
This is also why it is assumed that only an election can clear the air on reforms.
This article originally appeared at Asia Society, an Atlantic partner site.