Passengers waited Tuesday for train service to be restored in New Delhi.
On Tuesday, India suffered the largest electrical blackout in history, affecting an area encompassing about 670 million people, or roughly 10 percent of the world’s population. Three of the country’s interconnected northern power grids collapsed for several hours, as blackouts extended almost 2,000 miles, from India’s eastern border with Myanmar to its western border with Pakistan.
For a country considered a rising economic power, Blackout Tuesday — which came only a day after another major power failure — was an embarrassing reminder of the intractable problems still plaguing India: inadequate infrastructure, a crippling power shortage and, many critics say, a yawning absence of governmental action and leadership.
India’s coalition government, battered for its stewardship of a wobbling economy, again found itself on the defensive, as top ministers could not definitively explain what had caused the grid failure or why it had happened on consecutive days.
Theories for the extraordinarily extensive blackout across much of northern India included excessive demands placed on the grid from certain regions, due in part to low monsoon rains that forced farmers to pump more water to their fields, and the less plausible possibility that large solar flares had set off a failure.
By Tuesday evening, power had been restored in most regions, and many people in major cities barely noticed the disruption because localized blackouts are so common that many businesses, hospitals, offices and middle-class homes have backup diesel fuel generators.