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India

India's Power Restored But Who Is To Blame?

HINDUSTAN TIMES, THE TIMES OF INDIA (India), AFP (France)

Power has been fully restored Wednesday in India after a grid failure left more than 600 million people without electricity for two days.

The failure of the northern grid in India's state of Uttar Pradesh (UP) on Monday brought the country's expansive railway system to a standstill, left millions in the dark, and trapped 300 coal miners, following the subsequent failures of the eastern and north-eastern grids.

Indian power officials have blamed certain states - including UP, Punjab and Rajasthan - for overdrawing their energy quotas.

Power minister Sushil Kumar Shinde told the Hindustan Times: "I have instructed officials to impose heavy penalties, including a pruning of regular quotas, on such states."

Anger has mounted in India against Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, who was promoted to Home Minister even before power was fully restored.

Veerappa Moily has taken his place as power minister as part of a cabinet reshuffle on Tuesday, despite the power shortage.

The new minister told reporters: "It is a very difficult and challenging situation, and solutions will have to be found."

Indians are still questioning the country's infrastructure failure and the government's apparent incompetence: the Times of India's front-page ran the headline "Powerless and Clueless' Wednesday morning.

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Ideas

Joshimath, The Sinking Indian City Has Also Become A Hotbed Of Government Censorship

The Indian authorities' decision to hide factual reports on the land subsidence in Joshimath only furthers a sense of paranoia.

Photo of people standing next to a cracked road in Joshimath, India

Cracked road in Joshimath

@IndianCongressO via Twitter
Rohan Banerjee*

MUMBAI — Midway through the movie Don’t Look Up (2021), the outspoken PhD candidate Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence) is bundled into a car, a bag over her head. The White House, we are told, wants her “off the grid”. She is taken to a warehouse – the sort of place where CIA and FBI agents seem to spend an inordinate amount of time in Hollywood movies – and charged with violating national security secrets.

The Hobson’s choice offered to her is to either face prosecution or suspend “all public media appearances and incendiary language relating to Comet Dibiasky”, an interstellar object on a collision course with earth. Exasperated, she acquiesces to the gag order.

Don’t Look Upis a satirical take on the collective apathy towards climate change; only, the slow burn of fossil fuel is replaced by the more imminent threat of a comet crashing into our planet. As a couple of scientists try to warn humanity about its potential extinction, they discover a media, an administration, and indeed, a society that is not just unwilling to face the truth but would even deny it.

This premise and the caricatured characters border on the farcical, with plot devices designed to produce absurd scenarios that would be inconceivable in the real world we inhabit. After all, would any government dealing with a natural disaster, issue an edict prohibiting researchers and scientists from talking about the event? Surely not. Right?

On January 11, the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC), one of the centers of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), issued a preliminary report on the land subsidence issue occurring in Joshimath, the mountainside city in the Himalayas.

The word ‘subsidence’ entered the public lexicon at the turn of the year as disturbing images of cracked roads and tilted buildings began to emanate from Joshimath.

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