India’s Energy Crisis

Indians on a darkened roadside in Allahabad during the power outage

On July 30 and 31, the electric power grid in north and eastern India crashed twice, leaving half of the South Asian nation literally in the dark. In what was the largest power outage in world history, 18 states and two territories lost electricity. An estimated 670 million people were affected. Railways, including the Delhi Metro (subway), screeched to a halt. Traffic lights went dark, creating massive traffic jams. Factories and hospitals switched to diesel-powered backup generators, and resourceful Indians turned to other power sources or just endured the sweltering summer night. In eastern India, more than 200 miners were stranded below ground for several hours when elevators stopped functioning. All were later rescued.

The western and southern parts of India were unaffected, and power was about 80 percent restored by late on the 31st. However, the outage caused financial losses to Indian businesses estimated in the hundreds of millions of dollars—and significant embarrassment for Asia’s third-largest economy. India’s government undertook an investigation of what caused the grid’s collapse. The recent outages resulted when parts of the grid were shut down for upgrading, and other circuits became overloaded. The complex network of electric transmission systems requires coordination and discipline on the part of all members.

The underlying cause was obvious enough: the country’s aging electrical infrastructure and shortage of power-generation capacity. Not all Indians enjoy reliable access to electricity, and many are used to regularly scheduled blackouts. Many villages in rural areas have no electricity. But demand is outstripping supply as economic growth makes electricity consumers of an ever-growing share of the country’s 1.2 billion people. Some experts say that massive investment will be needed in India’s power infrastructure to avoid similar power failures in the future.

Image Credit: © AP Photo/S.K.Yadav

Related Links

Hundreds of Millions without Power in India
Read about the massive electric power outages in India this summer; includes a map showing areas affected.
(Source: BBC News, July 31, 2012)

Power Grid Failure: How to Prevent It from Happening
This report from an Indian business news outlet assesses the causes of the electric grid failure.
(Source:, August 28, 2012)

India’s Power Network Breaks Down
This article recaps India’s historic power outage, with special focus on the politics of electricity.
(Source: Wall Street Journal, July 31, 2012) 

An Electrical Grid Is Pressed to Its Limit
Read how India’s electric power grid works, compared to the grid in North America.
(Source: New York Times, July 31, 2012)

Visualizing The U.S. Electric Grid
Explore this interactive map of the electricity grid of the United States, part of a 2009 NPR series “Power Hungry: Reinventing the U.S. Electric Power Grid”; shows major sectors, both existing and proposed transmission lines, power sources, power plants, and more.
(Source: NPR; accessed August 31, 2012)


  1. jesse james says:


  2. hatiee says:


  3. Anonymous says:

    wow thats crazy

  4. giovanni says:

    they got 99 problems but the girl ant one

  5. ryan says:

    thats not cool anass

  6. Omkar says:

    We’re fine. The power was off for five days after the storm (but many of our neighbours lost power for a full week). This is the first time power has frkcieled since the storm (over two weeks ago now) but we never lose power, so it’s disconcerning.

  7. emily says:

    oh i feel bad 4 them

    • Anonymous says:


  8. tamar says:

    this is boring

  9. ryan says:

    thats mess up

  10. what a shame says:

    I feel bad for them.

    • shelby brown says:

      what do you mean you don’t know? you need to post your comment with complete scentce or else dont say any thing .

  11. Elijah says:

    meh iv seen worse.

  12. Colin Mochrie says:

    Anyone else getting forced to do this by their history teacher. -.-

  13. gangnam style says:

    ive seen worse plus this is prob normal considering that india is not as developed mehhh

  14. shelby says:

    this doesnt make scence

  15. shelby brown says:

    this doesnt make scence
    this is not a good artical it needs more information.

  16. BOOLLYYYYY says:

    this is boring ._.

  17. allen says:

    yep colin

  18. Sean Flannigan says:

    I think the US should help with the power problem in India because it’s bad for them because they can’t do much without power.

  19. john._. says:

    i think that the u.s. should help in dia and help them get oqwer back. also feel bad for the 270 million pople that do not have power and the U.S has power but will not help.

  20. john._. says:

    i really am with yo sean because the U.S has power but india does not.

  21. Ebaad Qureshi says:

    That is very scary to here about the indians. I can’t beleive that 670 people were affected this electricity should have control. 80 percent of light that didnt go out on people thay are saved and lucky!

  22. john._. says:

    i think that the U.S should help the indians get electricity and supply them with wht ever they need.

  23. john._. says:

    i also aggree with you a hundred percent because we ahevall of these tools and barrall use them.

  24. john._. says:

    I am also worried about all of those people that live in India. If I was in that situation I would try to make and attempt to help other people with their electricity.

  25. john._. says:

    I also agree with you sean it is total bizar that the U.S is not helping india and support them with supplies.

    • john._. says:

      it is very upsetting like you said Sean.

      • Wesiley says:

        about this, because i can’t unandstred your language. But, hey, I’ve got something to say about the tragedy that got the Spiderman thinking this. See the movie: his uncle dies because of his failure. But think again: if he got no power at all, he would not save his uncle either. And would never see the killer, because he would never go to fight. See the movie: that’s all a fallacy.

  26. john-_- says:

    i think that the U.S should help Indea because we have all of these tools and very ralely use them, and i also think that we should help all of those people get power back so they can help us in return.

  27. Dylan says:

    This is just like hurricane sandy the power outages are crazy

  28. kevin says: