The Guardian’s report today on yesterday’s North Indian power cut neatly demonstrates how to deftly ensure development context is included in stories about developing countries even if there’s no clear development angle.
For India’s middle classes, the first they knew of the power cut was when they awoke drenched in sweat as their air conditioning units failed. But for the hundreds of millions of Indians who live below the poverty line, regular electricity is a far-off dream.
In 2011, 289 million people – 25% of India’s population – had no access to electricity. In rural areas that figure rises to 33%, according to a report from the Indian government in 2011. Estimates from the International Energy Agency suggest that even in 2030, not all Indian homes will have electricity, according to AEA calculations.
India is the world’s fifth-largest electricity producer after the US, China, Japan and Russia, but its per capita consumption is among the world’s lowest. In 2009, Indians used 571 kWh per capita, compared with the US, which consumed 12,914 kWh per head.