Jeremy Hobson: We’ll start in India, where 600 million people lost power this morning. It’s the second major blackout there in just two days.
The BBC’s Rahul Tandon joins us from Kolkata. Good morning.
Rahul Tandon: Good morning to you — it’s not a good evening for thousands and millions of people here in India.
Hobson: Well, what’s the latest there? Is the power coming back on?
Tandon: Very, very slowly in some parts of India — but we’re still talking about hundreds of millions of people who do not have electricity across what is supposed to be one of the world’s rising economic superpowers.
Hobson: Yeah, from the outside, this looks like a fast-growing economy whose infrastructure just really can’t keep up with the growth. Is that what people are thinking within India.
Tandon: You’ve just hit the nail on the head. We talk a lot about India’s emerging middle class — well, they consume far more electricity than India did in the past; using air conditioners with the heat rising. With industry also demanding more power, it seems that the network suggests not being able to cope. Yesterday, the northern grid went down. To make matters even worse, today the eastern grid has gone in India as well, adding probably another 100, 150 million people without power — so 50 percent of the country don’t have power.
They’re trying to get it back, but the question many Indians are asking is: If this is happening today, will it happen tomorrow and the day after as well?
Hobson: Well that’s exactly the question I had — I mean, what is going to be done to make sure that you don’t have another blackout tomorrow?
Tandon: Investigations have begun, but one has to say: If there’s going to be such a drain on the electricity, until India can find ways of increasing power, there’s always going to be the likelihood that this is going to continue. And of course, for outside investors who look at BRIC economies, maybe they’ll be looking at those other letters rather than India now that they see the chaos that has engulfed this country over the last 48 hours.
Hobson: Rahul Tandon of the BBC, joining us from Kolkata. Thank you so much.
Tandon:Thank you very much.
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