New Delhi: In Olympics season, India has been on a record-breaking spree. Monday's power outage, which affected 370 million people after the Northern Grid collapsed, beat the Java-Bali outage in Indonesia which had affected 100 million people in August, 2005. But India's Power department is on a roll. It broke Monday's record the very next day. Collapse of the Northern, Eastern and North-Eastern grids threw 600 million people out of power.
As hundreds of long-distance, sub-urban and urban trains came to a halt, bank ATMs stopped functioning. While scheduled surgeries were cancelled (till the generators started running), work at small businesses and offices came to a standstill. People struggled to get back home as public transport platforms proved to be inadequate.
Looking at the number of lives affected, it is unlikely that this record will ever be broken. Six hundred million is more than the population of the two Americas taken together. Mathematically, well...China can do it but one wonders if Beijing will be keen on such a unique distinction.
The 1999 and 2009 outages in Brazil which affected 97 and 87 million people or the northeastern blackout in the US in 2003 that left 55 million people pale in comparison to what has been witnessed in India over the last 48 hours.
Ironically, Union power minister Sushil Kumar Shinde has got the Ministry of Home Affairs portfolio, a serious lift in his ministerial career, on the very day India has created this record. While India's people go without power, its leaders seem to become more and more powerful. And they have failed to give power to the people. Quite literally.