Not to downplay the challenges  — and opportunities — we are facing here in the U.S., or that many are facing in less developing countries around the world, here are a few thought-provoking points from a recent survey of India published in The Economist magazine. I have not independently verified but have little reason to question them:

  • Discussing the Indian government's enormous subsidies for fertilizer, gasoline and kerosene, which are intended to keep prices low for consumers: "the more ruinous kerosene subsidy is likely to remain as long as most poor Indians have no access to electricity."
  • How many is "most"? Six hundred million Indians have no access to "mains electricity", that is, the grid.
  • Even then, in 2007, "peak demand [for electricity] outstripped supply by almost 15%."
  • When power is cut-off India's powerful computer services firms "switch on their generators, but factories shut down."
  • The World Bank estimates "9 percent of potential industrial output in India is lost to power cuts."
  • "Thirty-five percent" of the power that is generated "is stolen."

You can access the whole survey on the world's largest democracy here.

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