by Pamela Powers Hannley
Buried in the back of today's Arizona Daily Star was this story about massive electrical blackouts in India.
'Decisions not made' at root of massive India blackouts
Who cares? Right? Americans are focused on how many gold medals US Olympians have won yesterday and how many gaffes presidential hopeful Mitt Romney made in that same time period.
But, we should care about the Indian electrical grid failure. In this story is a warning for our do-nothing, fiscally conservative, business friendly, low-taxes-for-corporations lawmakers: If you ignore the country's infrastructure long enough, you'll be sorry… in a big way.
Does this sound familiar? From the Star article…
…But taken another way, Tuesday's massive blackout, the second in two days, underscored the yawning gap between India's superpower dreams and a sweltering, gritty reality. Problems with an aging electrical grid, pricing system and inefficient mining practices combined to darken a stretch of northern and eastern India that is home to 600 million people, illustrating deep structural problems.
Among them, analysts say, are a weak and indecisive national government, entrenched bureaucracy and a singular focus on local issues at the expense of the common good, all of which threaten foreign investment and undercut the aspirations of a young, vibrant population.
"The size of this is a surprise," said Pramit Pal Chaudhuri, foreign editor of the Hindustan Times newspaper. "But the fact it happened as a consequence of a whole series of micro-decisions not made, is not."
The trouble started shortly after midnight on Monday. India's northern grid failed, affecting 300 million people in seven states. With the help of power diverted from neighboring states and as far away as Bhutan, service was restored by evening.
It collapsed again shortly after 1 p.m. on Tuesday, taking two more of the country's five grids with it. That left the capital with only 1 percent of its usual power supply and tempers fraying in 90-degree heat. [Emphasis added.]
Maybe we can learn from India's mistakes and address our aging electrical grid before the US has a major, life-threatening power failure. Gosh, aren't there millions of people unemployed or under employed? What if we paired the nation's unmet infrastructure needs and our employment needs? What a concept.