FOR an aspiring economic superpower, there can be few more chastening events than electricity cuts as massive as those that struck northern and eastern India this week. An area (including the capital, Delhi) in which more than 600m people live faced blackouts over two days. Infrastructure, from traffic lights to trains, stopped working. Hospitals, sanitation plants and offices ground to a halt. Airports and factories had to rely on backup generators, often fuelled by truckloads of diesel.
The impact on India’s economy goes far beyond lost output. The blackout will badly damage the country’s reputation, and highlights the rotten infrastructure that is hobbling its efforts to catch up with China.