One hot day last July, India -- one of the world's largest, fastest-growing economies -- suddenly and unexpectedly ground to a halt. Unable to handle soaring electricity demand, much of the country's electrical grid collapsed, leaving more than 600 million people without power.
Observers abroad reacted in disbelief. At home, exasperated residents responded in a manner that tells us much about what electrical service has come to signify in emerging economies. A common joke asked, What do you call a power failure in Delhi? Answer: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
In other words, an electrical failure is a power failure -- a political power failure.